By the Decade: Better off with him

Minor Notes: Montero, Prospect Lists, Draft
Javy Vazquez by the numbers

On a busy day in the Yankee Universe, we continue our look at the Yankees By the Decade with a stop at the Hot Corner. For the last six seasons, A-Rod has owned that position, and he is clearly the third baseman of the decade. It’s not even close.


To get a sense of just how good A-Rod has been at third base, let’s look at some comparative numbers. For the table above, I used players who had played at least ten games at third base. Thus, Gary Sheffield’s brief 2004 cameo at the Hot Corner and other similarly misguided experiments from the past decade are not covered here. As it stands, A-Rod enjoyed 54.6 percent of the Yanks’ third base at-bats and around 55.8 percent of all plate appearances. My, how he delivered.

In those at-bats, A-Rod was responsible for 72.9 percent of all Yankee third base home runs, 64.4 percent of the walks and 83 percent of the intentional walks. He accounted for 65.4 percent of all third base RBIs, and without his stunning .301/.401/.566 line, Yankee third basemen hit .245/.313/.393. He simply towers above anyone else including old fan favorite Scott Brosius and 2003 hero Aaron Boone.

What is amazing though about this decade of A-Rod is how tumultuous it has been. It began with a near-trade to the Red Sox in late 2003 that fell apart over Boston’s reluctance to pony up the dough. After the proposed Manny-for-Alex swap fell through, the Yankees swooped in and landed A-Rod and his contract for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. The Yanks were the only team that could afford A-Rod’s astronomical salary, and they gave up nothing too great in return.

For A-Rod, it was a tough adjustment to New York. He had a down-for-him year in 2004, hitting just 36 home runs with a line of .286/.375/.512. He was great in the ALDS against the Twins and then vanished, along with the rest of the team, in Games 4-7 against the Red Sox in the ALCS. Much as Javier Vazquez was dismissed from New York for his role in the collapse, A-Rod too bore the brunt of the blame, most notably for his slap play in Game 6.

He responded nicely in 2005 and won the first of his two Bronx MVP awards. He hit .321/.421/.610 with 48 home runs and 130 RBIs. Again, though, his post-season numbers were bad. In the ALDS, he went just 2 for 15. The following postseason, he went 1 for 14 in the Division Series, was dropped to eighth in the batting order and drew himself the Choker label.

In 2007, Good A-Rod showed up again, but the fans were wary. On the verge of opting out of his contract, A-Rod hit 54 home runs, drove in 156 and did nothing in October. As the Red Sox were about to win the World Series, he opted out of his contract, and the Yankees vowed never to deal with him again. Three weeks later, he was back in pinstripes for a record deal worth up to $305 million over ten years. The press hated him, and the fans were skeptical.

This past year, the fans finally embraced A-Rod. He notched his 12th straight year with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs by blasting two and driving in seven on the final day of the season, and his hot hitting carried over into the playoffs. Against the Twins, Angels and Phillies, A-Rod hit .365/.500/.808 with six home runs and 18 RBIs. As a decade begun with Scotty Bro and celebrated by Aaron Boone came to a close, Yankee fans had finally come to accept A-Rod as he should be, as the third base as the decade and as the team’s offensive star.

Despite early-season articles, despite sports writer consternation, the Yankees are truly better off with Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. Make no mistake about it.

Minor Notes: Montero, Prospect Lists, Draft
Javy Vazquez by the numbers
  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    The Yankee all decade team will be a 24+1 man roster.


  • A.D.

    I did not remember Ron Coomer being on the Yanks

    • pat


      /probably showing my age’d

      • radnom

        So, you’re less than 10 years old?

        • pat

          Well it is possible that I wasn’t as fervent a fan as I was 8 years ago and a guy like Ronaldo Croomer flew under the ol radar.

          • Scooter

            As I remembered him, Coomer was a classic old school Yankee bench acquisition – a guy at the end of his career with some pop in his bat who could also play passable D.

            My memory of course sucks.

            He was pretty awful in 2002:

            Nothing like an old guy with a negative WAR

      • A.D.

        Check out the banner on his B-Ref site, obviously a big Coomer fan

  • Salty Buggah

    A-Rod has been so good, I can’t even make those SSS jokes of other sucky players being better than him like I was to do with 1B, 2B, and SS.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I know. I was thinking that as I wrote this one.

      • Salty Buggah

        A-Rod. Sucking the fun out of stats and the clubhouse since 2004.

        • Steve H


    • Salty Buggah

      *able to do

  • Richard Iurilli

    Dude, Jose Molina had a 1.000/1.000/1.000 batting line as a third baseman this decade.

    The third baseman of the decade is a Panda.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Sure he gets on everytime, but he’s so slow. He’s a base cloggah!!11111

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Pete Abe just cried………..but the tears helped wash down a dozen assorted Dunkin Donuts.

    • Bronx Blogger

      Haha I was just reading his new Boston blog. He’s so two faced about everything he writes. I enjoyed his blog when he was at LoHud but it always bothered me how opinionated he was.

      Sam and Chad do a much better job now.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

        Meh, I like Sam and Chad; they do a nice job, but Pete Abe is a much better reporter. He was just a terrible analyst.

        • Evil Empire

          Sam Borden is annoying and has typical MSM views mostly. ChadJenn is fucking awesome though, he’s the Man. Better than PeteAbe.

          • Scooter

            Chad was the first minor-league beat reporter to give Yankee fans tons of info on Joba, Hughes, AJax, IPK,

            He works as hard as Pete to provide clubhouse insights

            BUT… Chad doesn’t have that snarky edge that Pete does. I respect what Pete has done, but I can’t say I was a huge fan of his analysis… or his love of stirring up trolls just to berate them and get a few more clicks on his blog.

            • Evil Empire

              Yeah. ChadJenn is more humble than Pete for sure – probably less funny. Still, all in all, Chad > Pete IMHO. He’s about as equal in the reporting aspect but knows way more about the minor leagues, so he easily wins.

        • Bronx Blogger

          I remember sending PeteAbe an email about something and he sent me a nasty email back. I then said something along the lines of “I’m a dedicated reader, I don’t understand why you’re being a prick about this”, to which he responded along the lines of “I have a lot of dedicated readers”.

          • Evil Empire

            NOT ANYMORE!!!!

            Seriously, it makes me kind of sad, seeing how small of a community his blog has. And stop by and put in my two cents sometimes about Boston issues, in an objective and non-trollish way.

            • pat

              Ever see the url to the site? It’s like 300 characters long. Not easily accessible.

  • Beamish

    I have to go with Aaron Boone for the Decade: 1 swing of the bat for the ages and 1 bad-idea pick-up basketball game for a career.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Much like the 1951 Bobby Thompson “Shot Hear Round The World”, Boone’s home run loses a lot with the World Series defeat.

    • Salty Buggah

      A-Rod’s 9th inning game-tying HR + 11th inning game tying HR + 9th inning go-ahead double + WS Win >>>>>>> Boone’s epic HR

      • AndrewYF

        Especially because Boone’s homerun came off Tim Wakefield, one of the worst postseason pitchers ever.

        Two of A-Rod’s shots came off Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes, Nathan arguably being the best non-Mo closer in the game.

      • JobaTheHeat62

        yes yes yes…alex’s 2009 postseason was a never ending boner

  • A.D.

    the Yankees are truly better off with Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. Make no mistake about it.

    I dunno:

    610 OPS + Grittyness + Jumping ability >>>>> 967 OPS + Clubhouse distraction + uncluchyness

    • dalelama

      I have almost forgiven Arod for stranding Miguel Cairo on third base (the go ahead run) with one out in the bottom of the eighth against Boston in game four of the 2004 ALCS. Mariano was in the pen and Arod never even got the bat on the ball. Another title in 2010 and then he will be ahead in my ledger.

      • JGS

        and we probably win game 5 if the right field wall at Fenway is more than three feet tall and Clark’s double bounces off it instead of over it. Just wasn’t our year. Frankly, with that staff I’m surprised they were ever up 3-0

  • Jake H

    I can’t believe we gave up so quickly on Nick Green and his .520 slging!!!!!

  • steve s

    Based on the length of his contract pencil Arod in for the next decade as well (unless he ends up as the DH when going for number 800). Will probably be dating Jeter’s and Minka’s daughter (or Tiger’s daughter) by then.

  • Steve

    “The Yanks were the only team that could afford A-Rod’s astronomical salary, and they gave up nothing too great in return.”

    Ben, I think you are doing Soriano a real disservice here. I mean, I would never argue he is as good as A-Rod, but you act like we just gave up a B prospect and a bag of balls to get A-Rod. The dude was the most offensively prolific second baseman in MLB for back to back seasons, and coming off a year in which he hit .290 with 38 HRs, 35 SBs, and 91 RBIs as a leadoff hitter (misplaced as he may have been). Besides taking on a large portion of A-Rod’s contract, the Yankees also gave up a damn good, relatively young hitter in the deal.

    • Guest

      Soriano amazingly turned out to be older than A-Rod, which makes that trade amazing.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      A-Rod in New York: .304/.407/.579, 156 OPS+
      Soriano since leaving New York: .275/.328/.514, 112 OPS+

      Throw in the facts that Soriano is older than A-Rod and has been playing left field for the last four years, and the trade is still a no-brainer. They gave up a good contact hitter who couldn’t draw a walk to save his ass and plays a less premium position than A-Rod. He’s also due to make $18 million a year in 2010-2014. I’ll take A-Rod and won’t miss Soriano.

      • Steve

        If you reread what I wrote, I in no remote way was trying to say that Soriano is better than A-Rod. As a matter of fact, I made it a point to note that I was not saying that at all. Of course the trade was a no-brainer. That wasn’t my point, rather that you dismissed Soriano by saying “we gave up nothing too great in return,” which in my opinion was akin to saying we threw a B prospect or two at Texas and took on A-Rod’s ginormous salary. We gave up an all-star second baseman, and probably one of the top 15-20 offensive players in the league at that point in time. To use Soriano’s struggles over the last couple of seasons is revisionist history and completely misses my point.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          My point is simply that Alfonso Soriano grows on trees. Even the Yanks were considering moving him off second base following a 2003 campaign that saw him make 19 errors and flash no range. He hit a lot of home runs and that really looks attractive from the second base hole. But he couldn’t do much to get on base, and the Yanks had pretty much determined, rightfully so, that he was overrated. Perhaps I’m too dismissive of him, but my point was that it was no great loss to lose him.