Thursday, June 09, 2005


June 9th, 1989

Darryl Strawberry Hits 200th Home Run

I've done a column like this before, about Ken Griffey, and while I'm loathe to repeat the same point (especially since I’m not even two-hundred columns in) it seems appropriate given Alex Rodriguez's 400th home run which he struck yesterday night, making him the youngest to ever reach that plateau, the first in fact, on the right side of thirty.

Now, A-Rod could get hit by a bus tomorrow and be in the Hall of Fame (that's also true of Griffey of course) but people are predicting great things for him. A-Rod is just twenty nine season, and barely a third done with this season! If he can belt another thirty home runs this year, that will give him four-hundred thirty for his career. Why, if plays twelve more years (until he's forty one) and averages thirty-one home runs a season, he’ll reach eight-hundred!

That all sounds nice--and I'm not sure I'd bet against it--but as Griffey showed, a lot can go wrong after a 400th HR. And, as Darryl Strawberry showed, a lot more can go wrong after a 200th. When Darryl hit this home run, he was in his age twenty seven season, which is to say behind A-Rod's pace considerably. Still, he had hit 200 home runs. He might not have broken Aaron's record but five hundred home runs seemed a sure thing. If he played until he was forty one (another fourteen seasons in Darryl's case) he would hit five hundred easily, just twenty one homers a year. This from a man who had averaged thirty one a year for the beginning of his career, plus he had slugged thirty nine each of the two previous years.

Of course, it never worked out that way. Darryl's demons, whatever their reasons, overtook him, and he played in just eleven more seasons, including 1989, coming to the plate more than two-hundred times in just six of them. More to the point, he averaged just over thirteen home runs for the rest of his career, coming to a total of just three hundred thirty-five.

So, cheer for A-Rod (a great and massively underappreciated player for a number of variously valid reasons) and his 400 home runs, and dream of his hitting 400 more. But the more I think about it, the more sure I am I'd bet against it.

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