Alex Rodriguez hasn’t exactly showcased his best season this year. Although he posted some solid numbers in May, his June and July were both rather poor, and his season statistics in 2010 fall considerably short of his career averages.
This hasn't come as too much of a surprise considering he is nearing the wrong side of 35, and has battled through several injuries throughout the course of the year.
The good news is that the nonbelievers may have reason to renew their faith in A-Rod (at least for the short-term). Let's face it; for many it's about the here and now anyway, right? Listed below are A-Rod's stats over the course of his tenure in pinstripes in comparison to this year.
Despite this year's downward trending numbers, the thought of A-Rod’s diminished production shouldn’t warrant feelings of utter hopelessness quite yet*. As Larry alluded to in his earlier post, Alex has resurfaced as one of the Yankees' more productive hitters over the course of September (while simultaneously shattering his expected ZiPS RoS projection). Perhaps A-Rod is feeling more confident in his swing or is feeling better physically (or some combination of the two)? In any event, he might as well be accumulating “video game stats” this month. Check out his recent batting splits; they really are quite robust and they couldn't be developing at a better time.
More specifically, over the past several weeks he’s been inceasingly successful while hitting for contact, in addition to overachieving well beyond his overall 2010 SLG and OBP percentages. Rodriguez has also incorporated a few long balls into several performances of recent that have proved quite fortuitous. Although A-Rod hasn't had his most consistent year, he's certainly taken advantage of the performances contributed by those around him. He's currently third in the league (trailing Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista) in RBI at 111. As the collective baseball Blogosphere seemingly rehashes the same "stranded baserunner" storyline on a daily basis, it's good to know at least one guy is driving in runs.
Relative to other third baseman, Alex boasts the 8th-best OBP (.342), the 6th-best SLG (.502), and the 6th-best wOBA (.362) - each of which continue to balloon as A-Rod continues his hot September. Additionally, according to Fangraphs, Alex's season has been worth 3.6 WAR. Given his salary, one's initial response might reflect disappointment. However, when considering his injuries and production during what's been deemed "a down year," I find some degree of solace knowing that he is still almost equivalent in WAR to David Wright (3.9), another elite third baseman who hasn't even been hampered by injuries this season.
A couple of auxiliary points worth considering include his HR and SB stats. If Alex can hit five more home runs, he will have accumulated at least 30 long balls in every season since 1997. No complaints there. On the other hand, 2010 will in all likelihood mark the first season since 2002 where he hasn’t produced double-digit steals. Over the course of this season, A-Rod has attempted seven stolen bases and has only been successful four times. I'm certainly not Dr. Andrews, but I can't help but suspect that the injury to his labrum might be impacting this. With that being said, A-Rod has always been a smart base runner and may look for more opportunities. Afterall, he doesn't need explosive speed to necessarily deliver quality "heads up" base running (as Johnny Damon proved last year against the Phils). Although September hasn’t exactly been pleasant for the Yankees (they're 8-9 on the month), a hot-hitting Rodriguez is always fantastic news.
I find myself feeling cautiously optimistic about Robinson Cano during the playoffs. Ditto for Nick Swisher (assuming his knee doesn't continue ailing him now that he's received a cortisone injection). I’m hopeful that Mark Teixeira can battle through any lingering pain from his toe injury, and Derek Jeter can continue his pseudo-resurgence.
However, if A-Rod remains productive and healthy during the postseason run, a huge burden will be lifted off the shoulders of the rest of the lineup. The Yankees need him to be the asset he's capable of being, and last season dismissed any playoff curses he was accused of spawning. Alex has shown that he's still very much able to carry the Yankees offensively, and he'll need to.