It is rare for a baseball player to have the luxury of a formal news conference to announce his retirement. It is rare if they even issue a press release.
Most players who are skillful and lucky enough to make it even to the big leagues toil in relative obscurity. Their career fades, they are released, they are designated for assignment, no other team signs them—and the fact that their career is over is an almost personal, private matter that an overwhelming majority of the time goes unregistered even on baseball’s copious and comprehensive transactions wires.
Alex RodriguezHere are Alex Rodriguez' Box-Toppers statistics. The third column shows his Box-Toppers points (BTP) per season. The final column shows his All-Star Selections, his Box-Toppers key season rankings and his standing in Most Valuable Player Award voting.
|1996||sea al||11.2||AS, BTP-32, BTP-AL bat-9, MVP-2|
|1998||sea al||5.0||AS, MVP-9|
|1999||sea al||13.7||BTP-18, BTP-AL bat-7, MVP-15|
|2000||sea al||17.0||AS, BTP-7, BTP-AL bat-2, MVP-3|
|2001||tex al||12.5||AS, BTP-25, BTP-AL bat-2, MVP-6|
|2002||tex al||15.2||AS, BTP-11, BTP-AL bat-4, MVP-2|
|2003||tex al||6.7||AS, BTP-121, BTP-AL bat-33, MVP-1|
|2004||nyy al||4.5||AS, MVP-14|
|2005||nyy al||11.9||AS, BTP-28, BTP-AL bat-6, MVP-1|
|2006||nyy al||12.5||AS, BTP-27, BTP-AL bat-6, MVP-13|
|2007||nyy al||18.9||AS, BTP-2, BTP-AL bat-1, MVP-1|
|2008||nyy al||11.2||AS, BTP-34, BTP-AL bat-3, MVP-8|
|2010||nyy al||13.7||AS, BTP-23, BTP-AL bat-2, MVP-15|
* Box-Toppers record keeping began in 1995. Rodriguez played 17 games in 1994.
AS All-star selection
BTP Finish among all players in Box-Toppers points
BTP-AL bat Finish among all AL batters in BTP
MVP Finish in league Most Valuable Player Award voting
Source: Information for player awards comes from Baseball-Reference.com
Many players active in 2013 will not play in 2014. Some notable players have been given the grand treatment of a formal retirement, with ceremonies, gifts, retrospectives and news conferences—namely Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton and Roy Halladay. But other players may not be back in 2014. Some players may be limited by injury (Johan Santana). Some who still want to play another year may be limited by age (Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, both of whom did not play in 2013). And some may be limited by drug suspension (Alex Rodriguez and maybe Manny Ramirez, come to think of it).
Here is the first in a series of Box-Toppers’ Stick-A-Fork-In-Them look at 14 players whose careers are done or may be done. Included is a look at how they have fared in Box-Toppers points over their careers, reflecting their impact on the game over time. Not every player in this series has announced his retirement. In fact, some are continuing to try to play—even if they haven’t been on active rosters for more than a year.
1. Alex Rodriguez
The New York Yankees third baseman has been suspended for the upcoming season under baseball’s drug policy. His legal challenge to the suspension has been given a poor chance of succeeding. The soonest he could come back to the game is 2015, when he will be 39.
So the question is: Even if and when he is cleared to return to baseball, will he? Will he be too old? Will any team be willing to let someone so thoroughly viewed as a pariah actually take the field? Will shame for his transgressions keep him away? (Yeah, that one seemed unlikely to me, too.)
Is it possible that we’ve seen the last of A-Rod in baseball?
If so, then baseball loses the player who most helped his team to more wins than any other active player, according to Box-Toppers statistics. Rodriguez is the active leader in Box-Toppers points with 179.3, ahead of Yankees teammate and starting pitcher CC Sabathia, with 172.3.
Since Box-Toppers record keeping began in 1995, Rodriguez is also the leading batter in points, ahead of Manny Ramirez with 167.2. Rodriguez ranks fourth on the “all-time” Box-Toppers points list among all players (from 1995 to 2013).
Rodriguez’ career began just before Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995—he played 17 games in 1994.
He is a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, in 2003 with the Texas Rangers and in 2005 and 2007 with the Yankees. However, only once did he lead the league in Box-Toppers points—in 2007, he led AL players with 18.9 and was ranked second overall to then-San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy with 23.4 points.
Also in 2007, he accumulated more Box-Toppers points than he did in any other season with 18.9. It was one of three seasons where he had more than 15.0 Box-Toppers points and one of 10 seasons where he had more than 10.0 points.
Rodriguez finished twice among all players in Box-Toppers’ top 10 list for the season. In 2000, he ranked seventh among all players with 17.0 and in 2007, as mentioned previously, he finished second.
He finished in the top 10 among all American League batters on the season-ending list 10 times, finishing as high as second three times (in 2000 with 17.0 Box-Toppers points, in 2001 with 12.5 and in 2010 with 13.7).
Interestingly, two of his three MVP seasons were far from his best in terms of Box-Toppers points:
• In 2003, Rodriguez was voted MVP though he scored only 6.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked 121st among all players and 33rd among AL batters. (Carlos Delgado was Box-Toppers’ top AL batter with 17.7; he finished second in AL MVP voting.)
• In 2005, Rodriguez was voted MVP though he scored 11.9 Box-Toppers points, ranked 28th among all players and sixth among AL batters. (David Ortiz was Box-Toppers’ top AL batter with 14.7; he finished second in AL MVP voting.)
The past three seasons have seen Rodriguez’ Box-Toppers numbers fall off, scoring fewer than 5.0 each year. In 2013, he scored 3.0 Box-Toppers points, however, he played only 44 games, limited by injury and playing all his games while appealing his 211-game drug suspension (later reduced to 162 games).
Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. Players earn Box-Toppers points for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.