Ranking New York Yankees Legend Alex Rodriguez’s 6 Greatest MLB Seasons

Say whatever you want about Alex Rodriguez, but you have to at least respect his charm. Despite admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs and serving a 162-game suspension for such a heinous crime, he somehow found a way to win back the love and respect of New York Yankees fans and a segment of the sports media that had hounded him for years.

Now, will any of that be enough to land him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? I’ll let you decide … but the answer is likely no.

Don’t let Rodriguez’s status as Minnesota Timberwolves governor or Jennifer Lopez’s ex-boyfriend take away the fact that he was one of baseball’s most feared hitters in his prime. The 2009 World Series champion retired with over 3,000 hits (3,115, to be exact) and came four home runs shy of becoming only the fourth player to smash 700 in a career.

Nearly six years after Rodriguez’s final game, let’s look back at his greatest big-league campaigns. For this list, we factored in statistics, the team’s final finish, and the context surrounding the seasons in question.

Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, Rodriguez’s greatest seasons rank as follows:

Honorable mention: The long road back (2015)

After hitting .270 with 30 home runs and an impressive 125 RBI in 2010, Rodriguez’s luck began to change. A knee issue limited him to 16 home runs and 62 RBI, his lowest in both categories since 1997, across 99 games in 2011. A year later, he missed time with a non-displaced fracture in his hand and only hit 18 home runs across 122 games. Then came hip surgery, the Biogenesis scandal, a public feud with the Yankees, and the 162-game suspension that cost him the entire 2014 season.

And then the 2015 season happened.

Now a full-time designated hitter, Rodriguez hit .250 with 33 home runs (his most since 2008) and 86 RBI across 151 games for the Bronx Bombers. The 14-time All-Star joined the 3,000-hit club in June, passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, and played a pivotal role in the Yankees winning one of the American League’s two wild-card spots. He even mashed three home runs in an 8-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins two days before his 40th birthday.

Although he only hit .191 over the season’s final two months and he had far greater years in his career, the comeback story is enough to earn his penultimate season a spot on this list.

6. Finally a champion (2009)

At a first glance, Rodriguez’s 2009 regular-season numbers (a .286 average, 300 home runs, and 100 RBI in 124 games) don’t pop off the page.

To that, we say it’s not the regular-season numbers that landed his age-34 season a spot on our list.

Rodriguez hit six home runs and drove in 18 runs during the postseason en route to finally becoming a World Series champion. Three of those home runs came in an American League Championship Series victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Bronx Bombers likely wouldn’t have won a 27th title without their controversial cleanup hitter. Enough said.

5. Mr. 57 (2002)

In hindsight, we probably should have figured Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs during his three seasons with the Texas Rangers. The power-hitting shortstop mashed a league-high 57 home runs and 142 RBI for the Rangers in 2002 and finished second in the American League MVP voting.

Sometimes, you just have to let the numbers speak for themselves. However, the steroids also speak for themselves, and it’s why Rodriguez shouldn’t expect to earn a Hall of Fame plaque anytime soon.

4. A second AL MVP Award (2005)

Although Rodriguez hit .290 with 36 home runs in his first year with the Yankees, fans wanted more. The shortstop-turned-third baseman was more than happy to deliver, hitting .321 with 48 home runs, 130 RBI, and stealing 21 bases during the 2005 campaign.

Rodriguez won AL MVP honors, hit his 400th home run a month before turning 29, and even had a three-homer game that April against the Angels. However, his brilliant season ended with him hitting .133 in a shocking five-game ALDS loss to … those same Angels.

It’s like poetry, sort of; it rhymes.

3. The 40-40 Club (1998)

What does it say about Rodriguez that a year where he hit .310 with 42 home runs, 124 RBI, 46 stolen bases, and a league-high 213 hits only ranks third on our list? Only four players in league history entered the 2022 season having earned entry into the 40-40 club, and the then-Seattle Mariners shortstop did it in his age-23 campaign.

Why, then, did Rodriguez need to take steroids?

2. See ya, Seattle (2000)

Interestingly, Baseball-Reference considers Rodriguez’s 2000 season his most valuable; the site credits him with 10.4 WAR, higher than the 1996 40-40 season (9.4), the 2005 MVP season (also 9.4), and even that 2002 season (8.8). The stellar shortstop hit .316 with 41 home runs, 132 RBI, 134 runs scored, 100 walks, and reached base at a .420 clip in his final year with the Mariners.

Actually, yes, we can see why Baseball-Reference would think so highly of Rodriguez’s 2000 season. Carry on.

1. A third and final MVP Award (2007)

I’m writing this list on April 30, 2022, only a few weeks ahead of my 25th birthday. Only a few hours earlier, I left a small package of ham out, and my dog grabbed it off the counter. I’ll sometimes leave my key in my car and immediately realize it as I’m about to close the door.

I forget simple things, yet I will always be able to recite Alex Rodriguez’s .314 average, 54 home runs, and 156 RBI from his 2007 season.

Simply put, Rodriguez was unstoppable in his age-32 season. The veteran third baseman hit two walk-off home runs in the season’s first month, joined the 500-home run club that August, and easily captured his third AL MVP Award.

Remember what I said earlier about sometimes, the numbers speaking for themselves? Here you go. Rodriguez’s 2007 season is his greatest, and you can’t change my mind.

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