A-Rod's 'personal World Series'—the one series he played in front of his estranged father

Profile of Alex Rodriguez in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine says he had one of his career-best series—"a personal World Series"—when playing for the first time in front of his estranged father. Box-Toppers deduces that series was in April 1998.

Profile of Alex Rodriguez in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine says he had one of his career-best series—"a personal World Series"—when playing for the first time in front of his estranged father. Box-Toppers deduces that series was in April 1998.

Alex Rodriguez had one of his career-best series against the Twins in the late 1990s when he reunited with his estranged father, who left the family when Alex was 10.

That’s one of the revelations in a recent ESPN The Magazine profile of A-Rod, “The Education of Alex Rodriguez,” by J.R. Moehringer.

In the late 1990s, Rodriguez’ then-wife Cynthia urged her husband to find and reconnect with his father, Victor (who is not named in the ESPN piece), Moehringer writes. A-Rod, then playing for Seattle, arranged to bring his father to Minnesota where the Mariners were spending four days playing a series against the Twins.

It is the first time he played in front of his father who taught him the game, Moehringer says, and it brought out the best in him.

“Rodriguez has a reputation for shrinking in big games, but this series with the Twins is among the biggest of his career, his personal World Series, and he becomes a snarling, fearsome beast,” Moehringer writes. “Every ball he hits goes clanging off the wall, or sails over.”

Moehringer doesn’t provide the dates of the series, but given that it was likely a four-game set against the Twins in Minnesota in the late 1990s, there is one series that fits that bill:

A-Rod’s best series?

The April 1998 four-game series with the Seattle Mariners visiting the Minnesota Twins may have been one of Alex Rodriguez’s best series ever, according to ESPN The Magazine writer J.R. Moehringer. That was the series where A-Rod invited his estranged father Victor to see him play for the first time. While A-Rod had a great series and the Mariners swept the Twins, Rodriguez only earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors once. Here are Box-Toppers Players of the Game for each of the four games of the series:  

Date Score Player of Game Pos (Line)
4/16 Sea 3, Min 2 Bobby Ayala PI CP (0.2IP K Sv)
4/17 Sea 11, Min 6 Ken Griffey Jr. CF (3-4 2R 4BI 2B HR)
4/18 Sea 5, Min 3 Alex Rodriguez* SS (4-4 3R BI 3B HR)
4/19 Sea 7, Min 4 Mike Timlin PI CP (3IP 3K Sv)
* Rodriguez was also Box-Toppers American League Batter of the Day, earning a total of 1.5 Box-Toppers points—1.0 for being Player of the Game and a bonus 0.5 points for being AL Batter of the Day.

From April 16 through 19, 1998, the Mariners swept a four-game series from the Twins.

Over the course of the series, Rodriguez went 11-for-18 with eight runs and five runs batted in. He hit two homers, three doubles and two triples over the four games, walking once and striking out only twice.

Rodriguez was Box-Toppers Player of the Game in only one of the four games of the series—in the April 18 5-3 win over the Twins. In that game, Rodriguez went 4-for-4 with a triple and a home run, scored three runs and drove in one. His Box-Toppers game score of +4 was the highest among American League batters with Box-Toppers Player of the Day honors that day, giving him Box-Toppers AL Batter of the Day honors.

The 1.5 Box-Toppers points Rodriguez earned that day (1.0 point for being Player of the Game and 0.5 for being AL Batter of the Day) turned out to be a large percentage of his overall total for the 1998 season. Rodriguez earned only 5.0 Box-Toppers points in 1998, the lowest single season point total during the prime of his career from 1996 to 2010.

Rodriguez leads all batters in career Box-Toppers points since 1995 (when Box-Toppers record keeping began). Rodriguez has 179.3 career points. His best season was 2007 when he had 18.9 points with the Yankees.

Rodriguez sat out the 2014 season suspended under baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy. He is returning to the Yankees this spring.

How Rodriguez stands among Box-Toppers “all-time” top 10 players and batters.

A year-by-year look at Rodriguez’ Box-Toppers points totals.

Though Moehringer places Victor Martinez’ appearance at the Mariners-Twins series in the late 1990s, it is possible he was referring to another four-game series the Mariners played at the Twins in June 2000. In that series, Rodriguez went 9-for-17 (.529 batting average), scored eight runs and drove in six. He hit two homers and a double in the four games. He was Box-Toppers Player of the Game once during the series, on June 18, 2000, a 10-2 Mariners win over the Twins.

Victor Rodriguez died Feb. 11, 2014, at the age of 84. Here is a link to his obituary.

Box-Toppers points are a measure of how much a player provides key contributions to his team’s wins. Specifically, 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. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point 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.

(Game information for this post compiled from the Box-Toppers database and baseball-reference.com.)