The New York Yankees, whose management is synonymous with arrogance, made a terrible error when they signed Alex Rodriguez to a contract that ends in 2017. The mistake was not signing A-Rod. It was giving him such a lengthy deal.

While the Yankees and their fans will never forget the cost of the contract, it is possible to evaluate how Rodriguez has performed since he was traded to the Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Ariason on Feb. 16, 2004.

Since joining the Yankees, and taking into account only his tenure with New York, Alex Rodriguez ranks as the greatest third baseman in Yankees’ history.

From 2005-11, Rodriguez has batted .295/.391/.550, averaging 41 home runs and 131 RBI over a 162-game season. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over a 162-game season is 6.3.

Clete Boyer was the greatest defensive third baseman in Yankees’ history. Yes, Boyer was better defensively than even Graig Nettles, but Boyer was offensively challenged.

Frank “Home Run” Baker (1916-22), Jumpin’ Joe Dugan (1922-28), Red Rolfe (1934-42), Graig Nettles (1973-83), Wade Boggs (1993-97) and Scott Brosius (1998-2001) are the top Yankees’ third basemen.

Rolfe and Nettles are clearly the two best with respect to their Yankee careers.

Rolfe played for the Yankees for 10 seasons. He hit .289 with a .360 on-base average and a .413 slugging percentage. He helped the Yankees win World Championships from 1936-39 and in 1941. Until Nettles came along, Rolfe was generally considered the Yankees’ top third baseman.

Nettles spent 11 seasons as the Yankees’ third baseman. He never hit for much of an average and his best on-base average was .343 in 1978. Nettles led the league in home runs with 32 in 1976 and despite being a power threat, especially in Yankee Stadium, his best slugging average was .496 in 1977.

A-Rod has led the league in home runs twice while a Yankee. In 2005, he hit 48 home runs with 130 RBI and was voted the American League MVP.

In 2007, Rodriguez hit 54 home runs, which matched Mickey Mantle’s 1961 total, batted in a Lou Gehrig-like 156 runs and won his second AL MVP as a Yankee.

Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle have won three MVP awards, as has A-Rod, but the latter won his first while toiling for the Texas Rangers as their shortstop. The only third baseman to win three MVP awards is Mike Schmidt.

The media and most fans considered A-Rod greedy when he demanded $30 million a season, but when one puts things into perspective, as New York Times writer Ken Belson pointed out, A-Rod merely wanted what society accepts as fair remuneration for entertainers and Wall St. exploiters.

In 2007, the top Wall St. trader made $1.5 billion. Number 100 on the list ripped off—whoops—earned $50 million. The Wall Streeters cheered Rodriguez.

“Not only do I have no problem with it, I’m cheering him on,” said James L. Melcher of Balestra Capital, which is a hedge fund.

“Ballplayers work every day, they risk serious injury, and they travel all the time. Too many CEO’s get appointed because they were just there and then they stuff the board with their friends and their compensation goes up and up regardless of how they perform. That’s not the American way.”

Sorry, Mr. Melcher, for Wall Street that is the American way. The same is true for A-Rod, but that is not his fault. It is the Yankees’ fault.



Kepner, T. (2007, Nov 20). Rodriguez is M.V.P.; rivera says he’ll re-sign. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. D1. Retrieved from

Belson, K. (2007, Oct 30). Greedy? not by wall st. standards. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B3. Retrieved from

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