Friday, May 30, 2014

A-Rod: A Modern Willie Mays

A-Rod was the second coming of the amazing Mays (Examiner)
Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez both rate as each other's second best comp according to Baseball-Reference. B-R says Ken Griffey Jr. was most similar to A-Rod and that Frank Robinson was the Say Hey Kid's closest match. Frankly, I don't see how two players could be any more similar. For starters, many of their career numbers are almost inseparable:

Doubles: Mays 523, A-Rod 519
Home runs: Mays 660, A-Rod 654
RBI: Mays 1,903, A-Rod 1,969
Steals: Mays 338, A-Rod 322
OPS: Mays .941, A-Rod .942
Iso: Mays .256, A-Rod .259
wOBA Mays .409, A-Rod .400
GIDP: Mays 251, A-Rod 240
SH: Mays 13, A-Rod 16
SF: Mays 91, A-Rod 101
BSR: Mays 32.9, A-Rod 33.3

The similarities don't end there, of course. Their careers shared many parallels despite playing out nearly half a century apart.
  • They both batted from the right side
  • They both played in New York and won one World Series playing there. They played for many great teams surrounded by numerous Hall of Fame-caliber players (Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, and Juan Marichal for Mays, Griffey, Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera for Rodriguez)
  • Were stellar in their first full seasons/broke out at age 20--Mays won the 1951 NL Rookie of the Year and Rodriguez finished second in the AL MVP race to Juan Gonzalez
  • Emerged as elite players in their third seasons--1954 for Mays (MVP) and '96 for A-Rod (MVP runner-up)--and won their one and only batting crowns
  • Their career batting lines are almost identical: Mays batted .302/.384/.557 and Rodriguez hit .299/.384/.558
  • Rodriguez won five home run titles and four slugging titles. Mays won four home run titles and five slugging titles
  • Both had five full seasons with an OBP better than .400
  • Both led the league in hits once and won a batting title (but not in the same season)
  • Each had one season with at least 100 walks
  • Mays topped 300 total bases for 13 straight seasons, from 1954 through 1966. Rodriguez exceeded 290 13 consecutive years; 1996 through 2008
  • Both had 13 straight seasons with at least 99 runs scored
  • Both won multiple MVPs (but deserved more) and were runner-up twice. Mays won his first and last MVP 12 years apart, something A-Rod would have accomplished if the voters in 1996 had an ounce of sense in their heads
  • Both had multiple seasons with at least 50 home runs, and each won their last MVP with a 50 home run season (Mays with 52 in 1965 and Rodriguez with 54 in 2007)
  • Each switched teams but never leagues, and called three separate cities home
  • Both supplemented their elite power with great speed, and were excellent baserunners/basestealers. Mays stole 338 bases and was caught 103 times (76.6 percent success rate), while Rodriguez swiped 322 and was nabbed 76 (80.9 percent). Reached 40 steals in a season one time each
  • Were regarded as outstanding defensive players and won multiple Gold Gloves, Rodriguez was a slick-fielding shortstop and third baseman while Mays is regarded as perhaps the best defensive center fielder of all-time (along with Tris Speaker)
  • Both had their shares of highs and lows in the postseason
  • Were the highest paid players in baseball for a time
  • Both had their last great season the year they turned 35 (1966 for Mays and 2010 for Rodriguez)
If Rodriguez's career is indeed over (only time will tell), he deserves to be remembered not for all his off-the-field transgressions, but for the greatness he displayed on the diamond. He was as close to Willie Mays as any player possibly can be, and that's pretty special.
A-Rod is fifth on the career home run list, six behind Mays


  1. Except Mays didn't have his numbers bloated due to steroids.