Imagining the Yanks without A-Rod


You don’t need me to tell you that the 2009 Yankees were a very good baseball club. We all know how their season ended. We all know that they won a Major League-leading 103 games and captured those final key 11 postseason victories by the time the first week in November rolled around. Been there, done that.

Let me tell you though about one of the players who helps make the Yankees as good as they are. For 28 games at the start of the season, the Yankees were without one Alex Rodriguez, their high-priced and sometimes high-maintenance third baseman. Through those 28 games, the Yanks were 13-15, spinning their wheels and going nowhere fast. After A-Rod‘s return, the team went 90-44. By the end of the season, the Yanks were 82-42 in games in which A-Rod appeared and 21-17 without him. That turnaround might not be only A-Rod’s doing, but he was no small part of the Yanks’ success.

Yesterday, in an interview with YES, A-Rod spoke at length about his 2009 campaign. Even at the steroid revelations, the year started on a bad note for him as he needed a major hip procedure. For A-Rod, the comparison to other players cut down in their primes by bad hips seemed apt. Albert Belle and Bo Jackson were both destined for greater things than they achieved when hip conditions forced them off the field.

“I think I grew up a lot, both on and off the field. Staring at retirement right in the face, kind of like Bo Jackson. That’s the first thing I thought of,” he said on YES. “It was a commitment that I wanted to do for the team, and it was very scary. I knew I was putting the rest of my career at risk, but I felt that with the team at hand, it was a risk worth taking.”

A-Rod’s retiring at 34 is an idea no Yankee wants to consider. That would have been a disastrous development for the Yankees. Overall last year, A-Rod was a 4.4 WAR player, and the swing from those replacing A-Rod to A-Rod was approximately 5 wins. Although the Yanks are still good enough to have won without him, A-Rod is one of those players who makes the rest of the lineup better. His return coincided with Mark Teixeira‘s breaking out of a slump, and his presence took pressure off the rest of the lineup.

The Yankees could have filled the A-Rod hole easily this off-season by pursuing Adrian Beltre. The Red Sox’s new third baseman is a far superior defender than A-Rod ever has been at the Hot Corner, but except for Beltre’s insane 2004 campaign, A-Rod has been the better offensive player of the two. A-Rod’s three-year combined WAR is 20; Beltre’s is short of 10.

Now, A-Rod is primed for a big 2010. He didn’t need the second surgery, and he says his hip is feeling great. Outside of some rather mundane Kate Hudson developments, he hasn’t made headlines this winter, and I’m glad he’s around. He shed himself of the clutch burden and proved himself in the eyes of some of the game’s most judgmental fans. The alternative — life without A-Rod — is much, much worse.

Categories : Injuries


  1. dkidd says:

    i’m feeling a monster 2010 for relaxed, no-monkeys-on-back alex

  2. Rose says:

    My pain…is self-chosen
    at least, I believe it to be
    I could either drown
    Or pull off my skin and swim to shore
    Now I can grow a beautiful…shell for all to see

    -Mad Season, River of Deceit (Covered by Alex Rodriguez)

  3. Yankeegirl49 says:

    But weren’t we told that the Yankees were so much better without Arod?

  4. the only thing that worries me about ARod is how many years are left on that deal. sure, he’s a superb player, one of the best of all time. but there are many, many years and many, many dollars to go.

  5. Imagining the Yanks without A-Rod

    Hmmmm… nah, I’ll pass.

  6. Steve H says:

    Rumor has it that A-Rod has demanded a trade. He doesn’t want to be a Yankee anymore due to the offseason moves. I mean, Randy Winn!?!?!?!

  7. Rose says:

    Although the Yanks are still good enough to have won without him

    Won games here and there, yes. Good enough to win it all? POSSIBLY…but very highly unlikely. Especially with his clinic he put on in the playoffs last year.

  8. Mike Pop says:

    Outside of some rather mundane Kate Hudson developments, he hasn’t made headlines this winter

    It’s good to see him out of the headlines for everything he does. But last night I read this:


    Scroll down and you’ll see. Obviously nothing too important but I thought I’d share.

  9. A.D. says:

    Somehow they were able to get past the clubhouse cancer and lack of jumping ability to perform better with A-Rod than Ransom.

  10. Joe R says:

    Sad part is there are still plenty of fans who will still boo him and think the Yankees are better off without him.

  11. Chris says:

    Interestingly, it’s not the offense that improved when A-Rod came back, but the pitching:

    Runs scored in first 28 games: 158 (5.64 per game)
    Runs allowed in first 28 games: 178 (6.26 per game)

    Runs scored in remaining 134 games: 757 (5.65 per game)
    Runs allowed in remaining 134 games: 575 (4.29 per game)

  12. Senor A. Boy says:

    “The Yankees could have filled the A-Rod hole easily this off-season…” Pause.

  13. Jeremy says:

    However, it’s a known fact that ARod makes his teammates worse because he is a selfish clown. If it wasn’t for ARod, the Yankees would have won the 2004-2008 World Series and would have swept the Phillies in 2009.

  14. Bo says:

    If 3 weeks of watching Berroa and Ransom play 3b didnt make fans love A-Rod nothing will.

    Get ready for round 3 of that this yr. We’ll see how many want Damon back after 3 weeks of watching gardner and winn hit.

  15. yankee fan says:

    imagine the yankees with in-yah-face kate hudson and baseball fans having to endure yet another year of arod the centaur and his hollywood needy girl playing the their romance out on the field again, i might give up watching baseball period.

  16. ShuutoHeat says:

    you are my centaur
    my only centaur
    you make me happy
    when you hit homeruns
    you’ll never know man
    how much I thank you
    please don’t take my centaur away…

  17. KTEvent says:

    Ben, help me here. Why do you believe Beltre is a “far superior” fielder compared to ARod?

    ARod has always been an excellent fielder — at short and 3B. I have not seen Beltre other than a single game but the stats seem to be nearly identical based on ’09 results: Both played nearly the same number of games at the hot corner; both have nearly identical number on assists and double plays; ARod has significantly less errors (I think 9 vs. 14) and a superior fielding pct.

    Don’t know what the stats are over a cumulative period but last year ARod was the better fielder.


    • But the stats you cite don’t really capture defense. Errors and assists consider only the balls a fielder gets to. Newer stats — UZR for instance — contemplates how much range a player has and how many balls they get to, and in that sense, Beltre is a far superior fielder than A-Rod. He covers more ground; he converts more batted balls to outs than A-Rod does at third.

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