Is Alex Rodriguez still the best player in the game today? According to a random survey featured in the NY Daily News, which included scouts, executives, players, and other observers the answer is very clear. That answer appears to be a definitive no.
"When I think of the best player, Pujols' name stands out," one scout said, a sentiment echoed by many. Others suggested Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer or Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria.
One major-league scout who has watched Rodriguez extensively this season replied, "Probably so," when asked if A-Rod's best days were behind him.
"You find that most of the (drug) users once they get off it when they are in their early 30s, they tend to start the diminishment process," the scout added. "(Jason) Giambi's a model. They start to lose stuff. Power is one, though the ballpark may save A-Rod because Yankee Stadium is so ridiculous."
"I think he'll start to decline. He won't really go bad, but I don't think he'll ever be back at the heights he was."
"With Alex, I expect you'll see a decline. But will he be around the norm of what the top players in the game do? Yes. But not 45-50 home runs."
But don't tell that to Rodriguez he still believes his best years are ahead of him.
"I think my best years are three or four years from now," Rodriguez said. "That's just my mentality."
I think it's pretty obvious that Rodriguez is no longer the best player in the game, but that doesn't mean he has vanished from the conversation. He's playing with a very painful injury, and given that, his performance has to be somewhat commended. New York Mets outfielder, and A-Rod's former teammate Gary Sheffield agrees with that idea.
"When you're healthy, you can be yourself. But when you're not, it's hard to defend it or explain it, until you get healthy and be yourself, then people say, ‘Oh, we thought he was done.'
I understand fans frustration with A-Rod given his steroid admission, among a variety of other things, but attempting to deny his ability would be foolish. A-Rod, like it or not will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He held the torch as the games best for several years, but now his time has come to pass the torch. The only question that remains is who will take the torch from Alex Rodriguez?