Oct
20

What Went Wrong: Alex Rodriguez

By

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look back at what went right, what went wrong, and what went as expected during the 2011 campaign.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Spring Training can be deceiving. Every year we see players put up huge numbers in camp before having miserable regular seasons, and we also see players with terrible exhibition stats before raising hell in games that count. It’s the nature of the beast, the small sample, the questionable competition (minor league players, etc.), all sorts of stuff. We fall for it every year, looking for meaning in meaningless games.

When Alex Rodriguez came to Spring Training this year, he was ten pounds and three percentage points of body fat smaller than he was in 2010. Not that he was fat before or anything like that, but he was noticeably slimmer and seemed much lighter on his feet. A-Rod then proceeded the hit the snot out of the ball for six weeks (.388/.444/.898), and before you knew it, people were predicting an MVP award and a return to the glory days of pre-2008.

For a while, Alex was on that MVP pace. He came out of the gate like a madman in April, with five homers, eleven walks, six strikeouts, and a .370/.483/.826 batting line in the team’s first 17 games of the season. A-Rod fell into a slump after that, hitting just .171/.236/.232 with no homers over the next three weeks or so. He righted the ship with a two-homer day against the Rays on May 17th, and hit well enough over the next few weeks to carry a .301/.377/.509 batting line into July 1st.

Although he played in 80 of the team’s first 86 games, Rodriguez clearly wasn’t 100% physically. Joe Girardi said A-Rod was playing through a sore left shoulder in mid-June, and a few days later we learned that he was playing through a sore right knee, an injury he apparently suffered during the series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He was voted as a AL’s starting third baseman in the All-Star Game (and he actually deserved the honor), but he had to skip the event when that sore right knee turned into a slightly torn meniscus. After a second opinion, the decision was made to have surgery.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The procedure was supposed to keep him on the shelf for four-to-six weeks, and it ended up being more like seven. Not really a big deal. After a pair of rehab games with Triple-A Scranton, A-Rod returned to the lineup on August 21st and promptly went 0-for-5. He did pick up two hits next time out, then homered in his third game back, but he was playing with a new injury, a sprained left thumb. It was a fluke injury more than anything, he jammed the digit will making a play at third base in his first game back against the Twins. He missed time in early-September then even more in the middle of the month when the injury lingered.

After coming back from the knee injury, Alex played in just 19 of the team’s final 37 games. He hit .191/.345/.353 in 84 plate appearances during that time, but at least he walked more than he struck out (15 BB, 13 K). The crummy performance carried over into the ALDS, when Alex contributed to the punchless 4-5-6 hitters with a 2-for-18 showing in the five games against Detroit. Despite the sluggish performance with the bat, I though A-Rod looked very good on defense later in the season and in the playoffs, but that’s hardly a consolation prize.

All told, the now 36-year-old Rodriguez had his worst season since he was a 21-year-old kid with the Mariners in 1997. He hit .276/.362/.461 overall, a not terrible .361 wOBA that placed seventh among the 28 third baseman with at least 400 plate appearances this year. His power production declined considerably, evidenced by a .185 ISO that was his first sub-.225 ISO since that 1997 season. For the second year in a row, he struggled to hit lefties (.277/.367/.383), a demographic a right-handed cleanup hitter should crush.

The decline in production isn’t really a huge problem though, the Yankees can live with an overpaid .350-.360 wOBA third baseman. The real problem is the injuries. A-Rod has been on the disabled list every year since signing his new ten-year, $275M contract, and this year he failed to play 100 games for the first time ever. It’s been four years since he last played in more than 140 games. That’s a whole lot of at-bats for Eduardo Nunez types. Once again, we’re left heading into the offseason hoping that a winter of rest will help Alex stay on the field for a full season next year, but that looks more and more like a pipe dream.

Categories : Players
  • http://twitter.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

    Worst. Contract. Ever.

    • Gonzo

      If he was a free agent this year, what do you think he gets?

      I was thinking a 3/60? Maybe more, maybe less. Dunno, just a guess.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Maybe less …

        • Rich in NJ

          Didn’t Mike suggest 3/45? I think that would be his ceiling.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        This year if he was a FA he would not get 20 mil a year, zero chance, unless someone is stupid enough to offer that. If I were the Yankees and I needed a 3B, i’d sign him for a 1 year, option for a second, worth 10 or so Million a season. The injuries are becoming a major issue.

      • I

        It’s more interesting…

        He still get those HR prize after the steroid scandal…?

        what do you think?

        • Gonzo

          I was thinking only $20mm because of the Yankee surcharge and without HR marks.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            And even though I don’t think he’d get that if he were a FA this offseason, I’d love that contract over what he has now!

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Wells and Zio disagree.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Where is Zito these days?

      • Gonzo

        I dunno, wouldn’t you rather have Zito’s contract on the books right now? Only a guaranteed $46mm vs. A-Rod’s $143mm to $173mm. Even if just to buy Zito out fully.

        • Ted Nelson

          A-Rod is still good for 4+ fWAR per season… Zito was below replacement this season in the NL West…

          • Gonzo

            The argument wasn’t that Zito was more valuable. I actually think he’s worthless. That’s why I said they would buy him out.

            Not sure what your point is otherwise. Maybe thread the post before commenting on it?

            • Ted Nelson

              I would rather pay more for A-Rod’s production than pay less for Zito’s non-existent production… that was my point.

              • Gonzo

                I’d rather save $100mm+++ to use for improvements elsewhere than have a A-Rod’s contract. That was my point.

                For example, could have had Beltre last year and bought out Zito’s contract last year for cheaper than A-Rod.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

      Uh. No.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Wait for the CC contract.

  • Gonzo

    I asked this last year. Do you think A-Rod ever leads the team in WAR again? Last time he lead was in 2008, which isn’t too far off.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I think he’s capable of doing it if he remains healthy next season or perhaps the 2013 season. If not, no I don’t think he’ll lead in WAR again.

      • Gonzo

        Definitely capable of a WAR/150 leader, I think. I just don’t think he will ever lead the Yanks in WAR again. That’s me including pitchers too by the way.

    • Brian S.

      Not with Robbie in the middle of his prime I don’t think so. Also I think that while Granerson may not have a .400 wOBA again next season his UZR will probably rebound. And Garnder should improve offensively from last season to where he was in 2010. All should have higher WAR’s than A-Rod, even if Rodriguez plays 130 games.

      • Ted Nelson

        Cano has led the Yankees in fWAR once, and was only 1.4 ahead of A-Rod this season in 60 more games…

        • Brian S.

          Cano is in the middle of his prime. He should be around 6 WAR next season. I don’t think A-Rod will reach that.

          • Ted Nelson

            I certainly think A-Rod could, but that wasn’t really my point.

            My point was more that Cano isn’t the only guy one can point to. Granderson, Tex, CC, and Montero could all easily lead the Yankees in fWAR any of the next few seasons.

            • Brian S.

              I mentiones Cano, Granderson, and Gardner. I don’t think Teixeira will lead in fWAR anytime soon unless he fixes his platoon problem.

  • Kosmo

    Worst contract ever ? I dunno . If Arod rebounds in 2012 with a good season, let´s say .285 with 30-35 HRs and 100 RBI you would have to say it´s still an OK deal. Not many 3rd baseman can put up those type of numbers. Of course it still remains to be seen.
    Arod is at this time “going forward“ better off playing 140-145 games a season.

    • Rich in NJ

      A Berkman-esque comeback season!

    • http://twitter.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

      yeah if he has a great 2012 that’s one thing but how about great 2013-2017? Not happening.

      like i said, Worst. Contract. EVER

      • http://twitter.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

        I will be 30 years old when that contact runs out. Just sayin…

        • Rich in NJ

          Braggart…

      • Brian S.

        I think he can still be good in 2013 as well. It’s 2014-2017 I am worried about.

        • http://twitter.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

          you my friend are in the minority.

  • Mike

    I can’t say the Arod contract is the worse contract ever !.. He’s still producing . . and Remember this contract was given on the assumption that Arod was going to break the homerun record as a clean Yankee !.

    I have no problems with Arod . . after 2009 ,, he still has a free pass from me

    • a-rod sucks, he should quit

      this is the most idiotic statement i have ever heard.
      His contract IS the worst ever… here are the reasons why:
      1) Paying a guy nearly $20 million a year until he is 42 when he has been declining since he was 32?
      2) He is not putting up the numbers he was expected to put up with the contract he was given
      3) He is extremely injury-prone
      4) He is not a leader in the locker room nor is he a leader on the field, why would you need him? You can sign 2 better players with the contract the Yankees gave him
      5) HE IS THE BIGGEST CHOKER IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME, have you seen his postseason stats? It’s dreadful. Compare his numbers to that of Pujols’ and you’ll know what I mean. Pujols shines in the postseason and he’s only being paid $16 million per year.
      6) He lost the postseason for the yankees this year with his pitiful display of getting struck out with the bases loaded TWICE
      7) He uses steroids to hit his home runs.

      Free pass? I truly believe that Yankees messed up big time by signing A-rod, if we didn’t sign him, we’d have won at least 3 World Series since 2003.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Other than the horrible strikeouts with risp what really bothers me about him is his inability to drive the ball deep in the second half. I’m not talking about an occasional hanging changeup or a guess right 3-1 flat fb. His contact outs truly suck.

    Sad that a guy like him gets 2 singles in the next to last game of the season (a 10-1 drubbing) and everyone gets excited that he is “coming out of it”.

    As usual, the team did just fine with him out of the lineup. Although his injuries are annoying in many way$, they seem to create more problems when he is playing with/coming back from than when he is out.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I’m with you on this completely. But when discussing his poor contact, we also need to keep in mind that he has (or should have) the ability to adjust and change this. Jeter did it and he never had close to the power A-Rod has. His swing-and-miss habits are a little different, but I haven’t looked at his stats to see if they’re any different from previous seasons.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    The most annoying thing about this is that every March we’re going to believe that “he’s in great shape, we’ll have him for the entire season, he’s back to form, etc.” He’s going to fool us every Spring coming in looking svelte. By April 30, you start hearing creaks in the floorboards…

    The sad truth is, it’s probably going to be a struggle for him to play 120 games in the field every year from here on out. Just to keep him healthy a full season, you’d probably have to do 80 games at 3B, 60 games at DH, 20 games off (if you can get that much health from him).

    • Dan

      If Montero becomes the full-time catcher after next year, the Yankees might want to make A-Rod a permanent DH to try to keep him healthy. It’s a lot to be paying for the DH, but I would rather have him producing at near what he is capable of then have him develop nagging injuries from playing the field. He still could develop injuries from hitting and running, but by removing him from the field it does limit a good deal of his injury risk. The biggest risk for him with hitting is that teams continually pitch him in and he seems to be getting hit by more pitches over the last few years.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Teams pitch him in because he cannot turn on a fastball.

        Fb in, curveball away. That’s the book on him until he proves he can turn on a good fb and/or drive a ball into the right field seats. Not much of that in the second half.

        Another thing not mentioned are the inaccurate throws to 1B. He pulled Tex off the base numerous times on routine grounders.

  • Dino Velvet

    On SNL this weekend, ARod was jeered in the opening skit.

    The skit involved Bloomberg and he says, “there’s no one who has done less to earn his money, than ARod”, and instead of laughing, the audience started clapping in approval.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Sounds like a very stupid audience.

      • Rainbow Connection

        A stupid audience for an unbelievably stupid show.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

      A-Rod’s an easy butt of the joke. Have you seen that Will Farrell/Mark Wahlberg movie? That’s just the way it is. He’ll always be the overpaid primadonna who came after Jeter, no matter what he does.

    • Brian S.

      True story: A-Rod had a higher OPS in the ALDS than Swisher, JETER, Martin, and Teixeira. People decide to blame A-Rod instead.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Professor Michu Kaku a physicist from one of the States’s Universities claims that there are at least 11 dimensions and perhaps as many as 16. What happens in one dimension, the opposite occurs in the other. I’m hoping we get the good dimension from Arod and that he overcomes injury and age and has a great season.

  • Ted Nelson

    I’ll take 4.2 fWAR in 99 games…

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Yes, but I’d rather have 5.1 in 120 games, or 5.5 in 130. More games with at the same rate of production is what I’d like to see.

      • Ted Nelson

        Definitely. I’d like to see more games with a higher rate of production, in fact.

        I just think people exaggerate how bad his season was. It was still a good season from a 3B… just that he’s already set the bar so high and gets paid so much.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Exactly. Everyone sees he’s not worth what his contract pays him (that would be nearly impossible), not that he’s actually provding solid, if not better, production.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

    He’s getting older. He’s getting paid a lot of money. He’s Alex Rodriguez. What is expected of him, and what he’ll actually do, are bound to be a chasm apart, no matter what, at this point.

    With any other player, we’d be saying “hurt for a good chunk of the year, maybe came back too quick, still showed what he can do when healthy” and look forward to 2012. This is not any player, though, and that’s just how it goes.

    I fucking love the guy.

  • big j

    I don’t care about his contract its not my money. If they want to pay him a billion its ok. Just dumb people worry about other peoples money

  • toad

    A-Rod needs to get himself healthy. Period, end of story. I don’t know how much he can do to improve his durability, but he needs to get on it.

    We’re talking here about a guy who is trying to be one of the all-time greats. Take a look at what Ted Williams did when he was 37-41. Ruth, not exactly famous for conditioning, turned in a decent season at 39, and fine ones at 37-38. Aaron hit 40 HR at age 39.

    I know I sound like an old curmudgeon complaining about these youngsters, but there’s no reason to give A-Rod a pass because of age. If he’s going to get bonuses and fame for setting all-time records he needs to do it right, not limp in.

    • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

      dumb, dumb.

      He’s fragile, there’s not much he can do about that.

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    One can only wonder what would have happened if he got the stem cells treatment In his knee…

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      If he got the stem cell treatment he would have been banned from the game as he was pursued for using PEDs. There were many other players that used and they were not hounded as much. There are probably many more that got away with it that we will never know about.

      • Ted Nelson

        I sort of doubt Colon would get no sanction for a stem cell procedure and then A-Rod would get banned from the game…

        • LiterallyFigurative

          This is A-Rod we are talking about……

          People bust his balls over playing celebrity poker, as if he’d be in debt to Justin Timberlake and Matt Damon and then forced to throw games.

          There is no rational response to A-Rod from the powers that be (Selig and the media minions).