After eight full seasons with the Yankees it is getting to the point where Alex Rodriguez has nearly played as many games in Pinstripes than in both a Mariners and Rangers uniform combined. With that he will also have played more games at third than at shortstop.
EXPECTATIONS: A-Rod got paid $31 million to hit fourth in the Yankees lineup. He also entered the season by hitting at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s for 13 consecutive seasons. That’s all that really needs to be said about his expectations.
1ST HALF: A-Rod had a good start to the season. He was red hot in early April, cooled off for a little while, but got hot again. By July 7 he had a .366 OBP with a .852 OPS.
POWER FAILURE: From June 12 to July 7 he didn’t hit a single homer which brought his slugging percentage down to .417 during the stretch. He still had a .387 OBP though so he was never a detriment to the team.
KNEE SURGERY: A big reason for the lack of power probably had to do with his right knee that he eventually needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus. It kept him out for over a month from July 8 until August 21.
JAMMED THUMB: As soon as he came back he jammed his thumb while fielding a grounder. That really hurt his return and put a strain on the Yankees who were forced to rely on Eric Chavez, who wasn’t hitting, and Eduardo Nunez, who couldn’t field, in his absence.
HURT IN THE STRETCH DRIVE: A-Rod was not the same at the end of the year. He didn’t start to play again consistently until September 17, nearly a month after he came off the DL for knee surgery. Over his final nine games he had a .316 OBP and a .628 OPS.
PLAYOFF FAILURE: Despite clearly not being 100 percent, the Yankees stuck with A-Rod in the playoffs where he had a .261 OBP and a .372 OPS in five games. Some people said he choked, others said that he shouldn’t have been playing, but he gets paid a lot to be the heart of the Yankees offense, it was admirable to see him out there trying to get it done. Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez were decent backups, but both came with flaws of their own.
VERDICT: A-Rod was having yet another great season, but injuries took their toll. He’s 36-years-old now. That doesn’t mean his career is over or that he can’t put up MVP-caliber numbers again, but it does mean that injuries will pop-up more and more.
GOING FORWARD: He can still be a big factor in this lineup, unfortunately he probably can’t be leaned on at the guy anymore. A move to DH might help lessen the injuries, but he still played great defense last year so it will be hard to justify using him as a full-time DH for a while. For the first time since he signed his last contract with the Yankees there is a question of whether or not he will be able to break Barry Bonds‘ home run record too.