I don’t understand how Rodriquez didn’t win more MVPs early in his career. Take 1996. He is a solid fielding shortstop who is just 21 years old. He wins the batting title and scores 141 runs to lead the league. You want power, you have power, 54 doubles (to lead the league) and 31 home runs. He drives in well over 100 RBIs with 23 doubles. He is runner-up for the award. The winner Juan Gonzalez had a solid year and hit 47 home runs and had 144 RBIs. He was lucky modern statistics weren’t available though as Rodriguez had 2.5 times the WAR that Gonzalez had. However, Gonzalez only scored 89 runs more than 50 less than Rodriguez. He wasn’t even a very good fielder for a left fielder.
The excuse. Gonzalez led his team to first place. However, Rodriguez wasn’t playing for a bad team where he could just worry about his stats. He played for a team that was in contention the whole year. They finished in second only 4.5 games behind the Gonzalez’s Rangers and only 2.5 games from the wild card. Gonzalez hit slightly better late in the game when the score was close, but there is hardly any difference between the two. It might be worth maybe 1 or 2 extra runs. If Gonzalez hit that way all the time, he would have had a better season on offense than Rodriguez, but he didn’t and I would have voted Rodriguez MVP then and now.
Rodriguez was the leader in WAR for position players 6 times in his career. The last three times he won the MVP award. I would have voted him MVP all six times. One time his team the Ranger’s did play below .500 ball and that time I have an understanding why he didn’t win the award, but I disagree with the writers. Then he might have gotten more consideration for the greatest shortstop of all time. He would have had more points as I awarded MVPs points.
However, I can’t see him as the greatest shortstop of all time. Even without the 10 percent penalty for steroids Wagner would have beat Rodriguez. However, it was more than that. He played 3rd base a lot at the end of his career. He did move to accommodate Jeter, so that isn’t much of a penalty even though he won 2 of his 3 MVPs as a third baseman. He had some poor playoff series for the Yankees. Not as poor of a playoff player as one time made out by the press, but there were a lot of series he just didn’t hit well. Overall, he is a solid player in the post season, but was a great player in the regular season. Also, Joe Torre his manager for manager for 4 years on the Yankees had nothing complementary to say about him in his book, The Yankee Years. That I have never gotten a good feel how much his career was assisted by steroids, so I cannot put him number 1 at shortstop.