Now that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has reached the lofty 600-home run plateau, that is the question.
He has seven years left on his contract. Can he erase Barry Bonds' name from atop the all-time home run leaderboard by the time he is done playing? It's a good question. He is 35, will be 42 when the contract runs out, and is showing signs of slowing down -- not hitting as many home runs, hardly running at all and needing more time off.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post examined all of that, and had this to say.
Could he rebound? Sure, betting against a talented player is never a great idea. Remember that Rodriguez hit two homers and seven RBIs in his final regular-season inning last year to reach 30 and 100. He followed with a brilliant postseason. So maybe hitting that 600th homer Wednesday against Shaun Marcum will serve as liberation. With all the dents, Rodriguez still has the second-most RBIs in the majors; still remains a force that the Yanks are elated to have in their lineup at present.
But it would seem another hip surgery is as likely in his future as a whole season that evokes the best of his past; especially when you see so many days now when the fluidity is absent from a once graceful athlete.
Rodriguez needed three years to the day to hit the 100 homers necessary to go from 500 to 600. Do you think he will be at 700 on Aug. 4, 2013? He needs 163 homers to break Barry Bonds' all-time record. Nine players in major league history have exceeded 163 from their age-35 season onward. But positions one and three on that list belong to Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro, whose late-career exploits are now soiled by ties to illegal performance enhancers.
A while back I took a look at how some of the greatest sluggers of all time performed from age 35 on. A-Rod has a chance -- Willie Mays retired at 42 and hit exactly 163 home runs from 35 on -- but it's not a given.
He could get there. The Yankees, though, could also end up regretting the length of that 10-year contract they gave him.