Yankees, A-Rod agree to donate 660th homer milestone bonus to charity

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees have reached a settlement for the $6M milestone bonus stemming from his 660th career home run, MLB and MLBPA announced in a joint statement. The union was handling the matter on A-Rod‘s behalf, and a few weeks ago we heard they requested a “hold” so they could continue to negotiate without filing a grievance before the deadline.

As part of the settlement, the Yankees will donate a whole bunch of money to various charities. No money is going to A-Rod. Here are the details from the press release:

As part of this resolution, Mr. Rodriguez and the Yankees have agreed that a total of $3.5 million in charitable contributions will be made by the Club, with $1 million going to the following charities that have long enjoyed the support of one or both: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa, and Pitch In For Baseball; and $2.5 million going to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, which will use the money to further programs and initiatives aimed at increasing youth participation in baseball, particularly in urban areas. Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. will determine the initiatives to be supported by the $2.5 million contribution after consulting with Mr. Rodriguez, and taking into consideration the focus of Mr. Rodriguez’s past charitable contributions. 

On one hand, MLBPA caved and was unable to get the player the bonus in his marketing agreement with the team. On the other hand, hooray for money going to charity, even if it’s not the full $6M. The Yankees also save on the luxury tax — A-Rod’s bonus would have counted against the tax and cost the team even more cash. I’m sure Hal Steinbrenner likes that.

There are still four more $6M milestone bonuses left in A-Rod’s marketing contract with the team. He’s due a bonus for his 714th (tying Babe Ruth), 755th (tying Hank Aaron), 762nd (tying Barry Bonds), and 763rd (passing Bonds) career homers. Alex comes into today with 15 dingers on the season and 669 in his career. He’s signed through 2017 and needs 45 homers to catch Ruth and trigger the next bonus. That might be a close one. Catching Ruth and Bonds seems unlikely.

The Yankees refused to pay Rodriguez the $6M bonus claiming his past performance-enhancing drug ties had rendered the milestone unmarketable.

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Saturday Links: Six-Man Rotations, A-Rod, Franco

(Scott Halleran/Getty)
(Scott Halleran/Getty)

I’m not sure if Andy Pettitte was hanging around the team last night or if he’ll be back this weekend, but he was in the clubhouse in full uniform on Thursday, and he tossed batting practice before the game. Pretty cool. Anyway, the Yankees and Astros continue their series later his afternoon. Here are some links to hold you over until game time.

Do six-man rotations work?

The Yankees are currently employing a six-man rotation but only temporarily — Joe Girardi said they are likely to go back to a normal five-man rotation once the road trip ends next week. The team has been talking about using a six-man rotation since before Spring Training and baseball as a whole seems to be heading in that direction. I don’t think it’ll be long before six-man rotations are the standard around MLB. Maybe ten years or so.

Russell Carleton did some research on six-man rotations to see if they are actually worth the trouble. Does it improve performance? Does it reduce injury? What happens if you have an ace like Clayton Kershaw and don’t want him to make five fewer starts in a season? After some gory math, Carleton found that most pitchers don’t see an uptick in performance with an extra day of rest and their injury risk isn’t reduced substantially. Unexpected!

That doesn’t mean a six-man rotation isn’t worth trying though. It just means historical data indicates the benefits may not be as great as they seem. Every pitcher is different though. Perhaps a six-man rotation greatly benefits Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Or maybe it helps Tanaka and does nothing for Pineda. Who knows? Carleton’s research just shows that a six-man rotation may not be as great everyone seems to think.

Yankees still negotiating for A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit ball

It has now been one week and one day since Alex Rodriguez took Justin Verlander deep for his 3,000th career hit, and, according to Dan Martin and Brendan Kuty, the Yankees are still trying to get the ball from ballhawk Zack Hample. The two sides have made “significant progress” after the team initially offered a package of tickets and memorabilia.

Hample says he wants the Yankees to “perhaps make a large donation” to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity that provides baseball equipment to kids around the county. “I could sell the ball at an auction for a lot of money and then turn over the money to the charity. I’ve certainly been hearing from a lot of auction houses,” he said. “This is a big chance to do something extraordinary for (the charity).”

Using the milestone baseball to help charity rather than for personal gain is an honorable thing. Of course, Hample has spent the last few days trolling A-Rod on Twitter and going on a media tour, so he’s milking his 15 minutes for all they’re worth. Hopefully A-Rod gets the ball, a charity gets a lot of money, and Hample stops pushing kids out of the way for baseballs. That way everyone wins.

Maikel Franco: Almost a Yankee

Earlier this week Phillies infielder Maikel Franco made a bit of a name for himself by wrecking the Yankees, going 6-for-12 with three home runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium. I won’t dub him a Yankees Killer based on one series, but yeah, he crushed them. Impressive showing by the kid. The Phillies are really bad but Franco is a definite bright spot and a reason for fans to tune in every day.

As Dan Barbarisi writes, the Yankees tried to sign Franco as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010, but fell $5,000 short of Philadelphia’s offer. The Phillies offered $100,000 and the Yankees offered $95,000. “I was very close to signing with the team—my agent told me which teams wanted to sign me, and the Yankees were up in that group,” he said. Only if Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t so stupid and cheap Franco would have been a Yankee argh!!!

Except that’s not really how this works. For starters, no one cares about this if Franco does 2-for-12 in the series. Second, we can’t assume he would have signed with the Yankees had they simply matched the offer. Franco might not have liked the idea of joining a team with a first baseman and third baseman signed until the end of time. Third, every team falls a few grand short of signing players every year. And sometimes those players get good. That’s baseball.

Saturday Links: Miller, Bailey, Hall of Fame, Security

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Yankees and Tigers continue their series later today, after the 69th annual Old Timers’ Day. All the fun starts at 4pm ET. Here are some stray links to keep you busy until then.

Miller Still Shut Down

Ten days ago the Yankees placed Andrew Miller on the 15-day DL with a forearm muscle strain, and, as of Thursday, the left-hander still has not resumed throwing according to Dan Martin. “I’m still resting,” said Miller. The Yankees said Miller would be shut down 10-14 days after being placed on the DL and he’s still within the window, obviously. Miller’s not behind schedule or anything. He’s right on schedule, I guess. Hopefully he can resume throwing sometime in the next few days and get back to the team before the All-Star break. The bullpen without Miller has a totally different dynamic.

Bailey returns to the mound

Remember Andrew Bailey? The magic of Spring Training had us all thinking Bailey could actually help the Yankees this season, but instead he suffered a setback a few weeks into the season as he worked his way back from shoulder capsule surgery. Bailey was shut down in April with a shoulder strain and was scheduled to start a throwing program in May, though I guess that was delayed.

Earlier this week, Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty that Bailey has indeed returned to the mound, throwing an inning in an Extended Spring Training game on Wednesday. I’m not sure what the plan is now — ExST is over (or will be very soon) now that the short season leagues are starting — but it sounds like Bailey is on the mend. The Yankees are going to want to see him pitch in minor league games, including back-to-back days before bringing him up. If Bailey can help at some point, great, the Yankees can use another reliever, but obviously the odds are quite long right now.

A-Rod‘s bat going to the Hall of Fame

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

There’s no word on what will happen with his 3,000th hit bat, but Alex Rodriguez has already donated his 2,000th RBI bat to the Hall of Fame, writes Ryan Hatch. “We extend our gratitude to Alex for donating the bat he used to record his 2,000th RBI to the Museum,” said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson. The bat will be displayed as part of the “Today’s Game” exhibit at the museum. A-Rod has some other stuff in the Hall of Fame, including the helmet from his 500th homer and his spikes from Game Six of the 2009 World Series.

Alex became the second player in history with 2,000 RBI officially, joining Hank Aaron (2,297). It’s a weird situation though. RBI did not become an official stat until 1920, and MLB ignores everything that happened before then. Baseball Reference has retroactively calculated RBI totals and both Babe Ruth (2,214) and Cap Anson (2,075) have 2,000+ RBI, but MLB does not recognized their pre-1920 totals. It’s like they don’t exist. It’s so silly. Either way, A-Rod is in the 2,000 RBI club. Whether he’s the second member or the fourth member is immaterial. It’s an extremely exclusive club.

Yankees beef up security after Astros hack

Earlier this week word got out the FBI and Justice Department are investigating the Cardinals for hacking into the Astros’ proprietary database, which is a crime. Like an actual crime with legal implications. Last June some trade information was leaked from Houston’s system, at which point the Yankees beefed up their security system. Here’s what Brian Cashman told Christian De Nicola:

“We certainly added some more measures, spent more money to protect what’s privileged,” Cashman said. “It’s more inconvenient now for us to access our stuff, but we did it — again — to look for where those vulnerabilities were and made some adjustments and spent some more money to upgrade the process.”

“There were some extra steps. Were they necessary? We’ll never know, but we’re more secure by doing so. We felt secure before, but we made it more difficult now. It’s a little more inconvenience when we’re accessing our system ourselves, but we spent some more money to add some further measures, regardless. There were grumblings by employees at the front end of it, because to access our system it’s more difficult now for all of us to do so, but we’re better protected by the way we went about it.”

Every team has their own internal information system these days and, of course, all their scouting reports and statistical data are different. They all use stats differently and they all have different scouting reports, so the need to protect that information is obvious. I’m guessing the Yankees were not the only team to improve their security after the Astros’ leaks last year. Twenty-nine other clubs probably improved their security as well.

AROD3K by the numbers

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Did you actually think he’d do it any other way? Of course not. He’s A-Rod, so he had to do it in style, with an A-Bomb, a home run for hit No. 3,000 on the first pitch he saw in the first inning on Friday night. The only other players to get their 3,000th hit with a homer are Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs.

Whether you love him or hate him, cheer him or boo him, think he deserves a second chance or should be banned forever, the numbers are the numbers. 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits — and that is what it says on his baseball-reference.com page (or the back of his baseball card, for you traditionalists). Regardless of how you view A-Rod, it’s still history and a (not)milestone worth putting into perspective. So here we go, from the basics to the obscure …

A-Rod is the 29th player to reach 3,000 hits and the first since Jeter did it nearly four years ago. Jeter is also the only other member of the 3K hit club to celebrate the big 3-0-0-0 in a Yankee uniform. In fact no other player has done it in a uniform of any New York-based major-league baseball team — not the Mets, the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants. Four other guys in the 3,000-hit club did play for the Yankees at some point in their careers: Paul Waner, Boggs, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield.

Rodriguez is now a member of two of the most exclusive milestone stat groups in major-league history — the aforementioned 29-member 3,0000-hit club and the 26-member 500-homer club. But only five of them, including A-Rod, are members of both fraternities: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro. If you up the homer total to 600, only Mays and Aaron match him there.

He joins an even more rare set of players if you want to include another underrated part of A-Rod’s five-tool skill set, his speed. Along with A-Rod, the only other guy with at least 300 stolen bases, 300 homers and 3,000 hits is Mr. Willie Mays. But Mays can’t match the 2,000-plus RBIs that A-Rod has, making Al from Miami the only major-leaguer to reach all four of those statistical marks in a career.

Of course, with all that power also comes a whole lot of whiffs. A-Rod is now the only player in major-league history with at least 2,000 strikeouts and 3,000 hits. Before him, the most career Ks by a member of the 3,000-hit club was Jeter, with 1,840.

A-Rod didn’t just get hit No. 3,000 against any typical pitcher, though, it was former MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. He joins Winfield — who got his 3,000th hit off Dennis Eckersley in 1993 — as the only players to get their milestone hit against a former Cy Young winner. Jeter and Rod Carew got hit No. 3,000 off pitchers that would later win the Cy Young award — David Price and Frank Viola.

It was hardly surprising that A-Rod’s 3,000th hit was a homer against Justin Verlander. He entered the game with an .821 slugging percentage vs. Verlander during the regular season, the highest mark by any player with at least 20 plate appearances against the Tigers’ righty.

I bet you didn’t know that one other Tigers pitcher gave up a 3,000th hit. That would be Pug Cavet, who welcomed the Indians’ infielder Nap Lajoie into the 3K hit club in 1914. Or how about the fact that one other player actually got hit No. 3,000 on June 19, just like A-Rod. Paul Waner did it in 1942 against the Pirates.

And I’m sure you also really wanted to know that the only one other player with at least 3,000 hits has a first name that begins with the letter A (Al Kaline), and just two others have a last name that begins with the letter R (Cal Ripken Jr. and Pete Rose).

That’s history, folks. Enjoy it.

Davidoff: MLBPA requests “hold” to help settle A-Rod’s home run milestone bonus dispute

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Ken Davidoff, the MLB Players’ Association has formally requested a “hold” from MLB in hopes of settling the dispute over Alex Rodriguez‘s 660th home run milestone bonus. The MLBPA is acting on A-Rod‘s behalf. The Yankees owe Alex a $6M bonus for the homer but have opted not to pay because they claim his performance-enhancing drug history has rendered the milestone unmarketable.

Monday was a soft deadline for A-Rod and/or the MLBPA to file a grievance on the matter — the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives players 45 days to file an appeal and Monday marked 45 days since the 660th homer. A-Rod has been deferring everything to the MLBPA thus far. They’re handling the dispute. Understandably, the union doesn’t want set a precedent by allowing a team to simply refuse to pay a contract bonus.

“At this point in time, the focus right now (is) on the field,” said MLBPA chief Tony Clark to Davidoff. “I know there are other things that are out there, but the focus right now, being in the field, is what’s been beneficial to everyone. For now, we’re going to make sure that remains the focus, regardless of anything or any dialogue that happens in conjunction.”

Davidoff says the Yankees at one point reached out to Rodriguez and presented the idea of settling the dispute with a donation to charity, and while A-Rod’s camp has not yet agreed to that, it isn’t off the table either. (I’m no accountant but I imagine there is some sort of tax implication that makes the charitable donation solution less of a no-brainer than it appears to be.) For what it’s worth, Davidoff says everyone involved has “maintained steady, mostly peaceful discussion in the interest of common ground.”

Anyway, Monday had the potential to be an ugly day had the MLBPA gone ahead and officially filed the grievance on A-Rod’s behalf. Instead, the two sides are working amicably to find a solution and avoid a grievance, which no one wants. I find it hard to believe the argument that the 660th homer was unmarketable would hold up in a hearing, but what do I know. I’m no lawyer. At least this controversy is flying under the radar relatively quietly.

Saturday Links: Stottlemyre, Betances, Didi, Mock Drafts

Stottlemyre during his playing days. (Presswire)
Stottlemyre during his playing days. (Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are playing a Saturday night game this week, though at least this one is on the East Coast. Including tonight, their next three and four of their next five Saturday games are night games. Blah. Anyway, here are some links to hold you over until the Yankees and Angels resume their series later tonight.

Mel Stottlemyre Battling Cancer Again

Former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is again battling cancer, reports John Harper. The 73-year-old Stottlemyre was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, while on Joe Torre’s staff back in 2000, and he was told he only had 3-5 years to live. He’s outshot that projection by a decade, but the cancer returned in late-2011 and he has been undergoing treatment since.

“It’s been tough because so much of my life is controlled by doctors, by the cancer. And the side effects of the treatment have been nasty, there’s no getting around it. But I’m determined that I can beat this thing. There are times when I have my doubts but it’s not going to get me down,” said Stottlemyre to Harper. Among the side effects from the medication are heart and thyroid conditions, and a form of diabetes. He also has an Achilles tendon issue, but can’t undergo surgery due to chemotherapy.

Despite the cancer and the treatment, Stottlemyre said he is going to try to make it to Yankee Stadium for Old Timers’ Day later this month. “I want to be there in the worst way,” he said. His wife Jean said they are going to try to attend as well, though the travel from their home in Washington might be too much. Either way, let’s hope for the best for Stottlemyre, a longtime cancer survivor who is trying to do it again.

Betances Gets Pointers From Rivera

Earlier this season, when Dellin Betances was really struggling with his command, the big right-hander got some pointers from Mariano Rivera, writes Kevin Kernan. “Towards the beginning of the season when I was struggling early on, Mo told me a couple of pointers that really helped,” said Betances. “He told me he felt like my front shoulder was flying open and he offered some tips. I dropped the shoulder a little bit to stay within a straight line and have a good direction towards home, and I think that has helped me be more successful and more consistent.’’

Betances said Rivera also reminded him to “stay locked in and have confidence,” even while struggling. “Hearing that from him makes such a difference. I’ve been able to use that advice to my advantage,” he added. Dellin’s numbers since his early-April struggles are insane — he went into last night’s game with five hits and six walks allowed in his last 24 innings, with 43 strikeouts. Bonkers. Somehow Betances has been even better than last year. If only Rivera’s words had that much of an impact on everyone.

Gregorius Gets Pointers From A-Rod, Beltran

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Meanwhile, the Yankees have turned to two current veteran players to help shortstop Didi Gregorius, who has improved at the plate lately but has struggled overall. In addition to hitting coach Jeff Pentland and assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell, both Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran have been helping Gregorius in recent weeks, reports George King. “Alex and Carlos had a big hand in talking to Didi,’’ said Pentland.

“You have to have the same approach in the batting cage that you do in the game, and that was something that was missing to me. He is the guy who has to go out and do it. Hopefully he has found something to work with,” said Beltran, who added he considers helping young players part of a veteran’s job. Both Beltran and A-Rod encouraged Gregorius to be “more selective in the (strike) zone” as well. This is the second time Rodriguez has lent a hand coaching Didi — he worked with him at shortstop a few weeks go.

Yankees Invite Whitley For Private Workout

According to Dan Zielinksi, the Yankees had New York HS OF Garrett Whitley in for a private workout before Monday’s draft. (Whitley said he worked out for the Braves and Brewers as well.) I’m not sure if the workout took place in Yankee Stadium or in Tampa, but that doesn’t really matter. Here’s my profile on Whitley, a projected first round pick and one of the highest upside players in the draft. Pre-draft workouts are not uncommon but teams don’t invite just anyone either — they’re usually reserved for players clubs have significant interest in, and, more than anything, the workout is so more members of the brain trust can see the player, including the higher ups. There’s no word on who else the Yankees brought in for a pre-draft workout.

Baseball Prospectus’ Mock Draft v2.0

Over at Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford posted his second mock draft yesterday, and, like everyone else, he has the Diamondbacks taking Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick. That’s not set in stone just yet, but it sure looks like Arizona is leaning in that direction. Crawford has the Yankees selecting Whitley and California HS C Chris Betts with their top two picks, 16th and 30th overall, respectively. Here’s my profile on Betts. (The Whitley profile is linked above.) The Yankees have been connected to both players for weeks now. There’s a decent chance Whitley will be off the board by time that 16th pick comes around, but Betts should still be available.

MLB.com’s Mock Draft v4.0

Meanwhile, Jim Callis posted his latest mock draft yesterday as well. He also has the D’Backs taking Swanson with the top pick. As for the Yankees, Callis has them picking UCLA RHP James Kaprielian and Betts with those 16th and 30th overall picks, respectively. Here’s my profile on Kaprielian. (Again, the Betts profile is linked above.) Callis says the Yankees “want a college pitcher,” but we’ve also heard they want a bat, so who really knows. This draft is very deep in right-handed pitchers, both high school and college, so the best available player for that 16th pick could easily be an arm.

Four Players To Attend 2015 Draft

According to MLB, four players will be at the MLB Network studios for the draft broadcast on Monday: Whitley, Florida HS SS Brendan Rodgers, Indiana HS RHP Ashe Russell, and Pennsylvania HS RH Mike Nikorak. Rodgers is a likely top five pick — he was a candidate to go first overall, but apparently the D’Backs want a quick moving college player — while the Yankees have been connected to the other three guys at various points these last few weeks. Here are my profiles for Russell and Nikorak. Look up a few paragraphs for the Whitley profile. It would be pretty neat if the Yankees drafted a kid who was actually in the studio, wouldn’t it?

Ibanez Changes Agents

Free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez recently changed agents, according to Ben Badler. Ibanez left Praver Shapiro Sports Management and is now represented by Relativity Sports. He has been eligible to sign since February, but Badler says Ibanez is likely to wait to sign until after July 2nd so his bonus (and penalties) get pushed to the 2015-16 signing period. The Yankees have shown some interest in Ibanez, a 22-year-old light hitting/good fielding second baseman, but if he waits until July 2nd, they’ll have no shot to sign him. Part of the penalties for last year’s international spending spree is a bonus cap of $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, and $300,000 won’t be enough for Ibanez.

A-Rod showing the value of having a great full-time DH rather than a DH rotation

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the last few seasons Joe Girardi and the Yankees have employed the rotating DH strategy. Rather than have one set DH, they rotated their regular position players into the spot every so often to give them “half days off,” as Girardi calls them. This has caught on around the league too — David Ortiz and Billy Butler have been baseball’s only pure DHs the last few years.

This year the Yankees are unable to employ a rotating DH. Alex Rodriguez is closing in on his 40th birthday and he has two surgically repaired hips, so at this point of his career playing the field regularly just isn’t happening. Girardi has installed A-Rod as the team’s full-time DH almost because he has no other choice. Alex is too productive to sit yet too frail to play the field.

So far this season A-Rod has been arguably the most productive DH in baseball, especially since Nelson Cruz has played more right field (33 games) than DH (19 games). Here are the most productive DHs so far this year among players with at least 100 plate appearances at the position, via Baseball Reference:

Rk Player PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1 Prince Fielder 189 23 64 9 0 9 32 10 23 .368 .418 .575 .993 165
2 Alex Rodriguez 190 28 47 9 1 11 27 23 41 .292 .384 .565 .949 152
3 Jose Bautista 126 18 29 12 1 3 20 22 20 .287 .405 .515 .920 147
4 Jimmy Paredes 141 23 43 9 2 6 22 8 34 .323 .362 .556 .918 143
5 Kendrys Morales 202 32 56 16 0 6 37 15 30 .304 .361 .489 .851 127
6 Evan Gattis 190 23 42 9 2 11 34 8 47 .233 .263 .489 .752 97
7 David Ortiz 189 14 38 9 0 6 18 20 25 .228 .307 .389 .696 87
8 Billy Butler 221 22 54 9 0 4 26 14 34 .267 .317 .371 .688 86
9 Adam LaRoche 148 12 25 5 0 1 11 23 45 .203 .338 .268 .606 67
10 Victor Martinez 127 9 24 3 0 1 15 14 11 .222 .315 .278 .593 63

First of all, that’s it, just ten players have batted at least 100 times as a DH this year. Only six have batted more than 150 times as a DH, so yeah, the full-time DH is a dying breed. Teams love that rotating DH concept.

A-Rod has been baseball’s second most productive DH this season behind only Prince Fielder — Fielder has only played ten games at first base this year — in terms of OPS+, and he is tied for the DH lead in home runs. Only five full-time-ish DHs have a better than league average OPS+, and one of them is Jose Bautista, a right fielder who only played DH because a shoulder injury limited his throwing for a few weeks. So it’s really just four DHs with a better than average OPS+.

In theory, DH is a pretty easy job because all the player has to do is hit. There’s minimal defense work, leaving plenty of time to watch video, review scouting reports, hit in the cage, the whole nine. But it’s really not that easy, especially for players used to playing everyday. Jason Giambi is a great example of a player who was always less productive at DH because he didn’t know what to do with all the downtime. He’s far from alone. Going from playing everyday to being a DH is a tough adjustment.

A few years ago MGL found that, like pinch-hitters, there’s a “penalty” while serving as the DH. Players generally do not hit perform as well at DH as they do when playing the field, the same way players are less effective when coming off the bench to pinch-hit. The penalty is around 5%, and while that doesn’t seem like much, remember that’s only the average. Some players suffer an even bigger drop. Being a DH is hard! Sitting around between at-bats is not natural.

A-Rod seems to having figured out how to be an effective DH, however. He’d never worked as a DH for an extended period of time before this season — his career high for starts at DH was only 16 back in 2013 — but he’s been able to make the adjustment this year and remain productive. There’s been no drop off in production. Quite the opposite, in fact. Alex is hitting far better than I think even the most optimistic fans expected coming into the season.

As unsexy as it is, DH is a position, and a tough position at that. The list of players who can sit around between at-bats day after day and still rake is very short. Rodriguez has figured out a way to be one of the most productive DHs in baseball, and that’s a big advantage for the Yankees, especially since they got a combined .209/.283/.340 (62 OPS+) batting line from their DH spot from 2013-14. (I checked that three times!)

The DH is there for one reason and one reason only, to provide offense, but the Yankees got minimal offense from the position the last few years. Most teams around the league aren’t getting much production from the position either because they keep rotating players in and out, and most players see their numbers take a hit as the DH. This year the Yankees have the luxury of a great full-time DH in A-Rod, who is living up to the H part of DH game after game.