You’ve probably got your fair share of opinions about Alex Rodriguez, yes?
In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that most baseball fans have taken some sort of position about the New York Yankees‘ third baseman this season, whether you think he’s a disgrace and embarrassment to the sport with his PED escapades, or whether he’s been the victim of an unfair witch hunt headed by Bud Selig and MLB, who’d skirted the steroids issues for many, many years.
Yes, the baseball world is definitely talking about A-Rod … but seemingly in every way except the one that matters.
You know, the reason why he became who he is, how he earned his millions, and the reason why folks are still talking about him today — his ability to play baseball? Though it is obviously the case that the Yankees have more at stake here than just his performance this season, it is exactly that which matters in the most practical sense of the game.
So, putting aside how much money he makes, how he’s going appeal his suspension for financial gains, and who he ratted out to MLB, let’s try to get back to the basics with Rodriguez: just how much is he contributing to the 2013 Yankees?
Well, fortunately for the Bronx Bombers, it turns out that he’s actually doing pretty well.
Lightning rod as he might be for near-universal criticism even among Yankees fans, it’s not exactly to easy to put down a .300/.378/.425. Of course, SSS caveats apply here as he’s had just 45 PA, but there’s no doubt that he’s zoned in right now, currently on a six-game hit streak with three of them being multi-hit performances.
In fact, he’s only been held hitless in just one of his 10 games, and his.803 OPS right now would rank him eighth amongst his peers at the hot corner (with a bit of extrapolating, of course). Yep, that’d be higher than the OPS’ of Manny Machado, Ryan Zimmerman, and Pedro Alvarez.
A-Rod haters rest of the baseball world, but as far as the on-field product goes, Rodriguez’s 0.2 fWAR accumulated in 10 games says he’s actually of more help than detriment. Though the numbers are likely to normalize towards his expected mediocrity, but the veteran’s 9.7 percent swing rate thus far compared to his 11.5 percent in 2012 suggests that he’s seeing the ball pretty well despite the long layoff, also evidenced by a remarkable 91.7 percent contact rate with pitches inside the zone, up from 79.6 last season.
However, if you were looking for an end to what is otherwise a sort of redemption story (though let’s face it, Rodriguez will never truly redeem himself to the point where he’ll be a respected star again regardless of what he does at the plate), you’re in luck.
Although things might be going pretty well for him now, he is riding a career-high .367 BABIP despite maintaining a fairly steady line-drive rate at 22.6 percent (compared to 22.2 last year), meaning that this might be a case of the baseball gods bringing him up now just to take his cloud from underneath him.
So be patient, folks. There are likely going to be even reasons to dislike the guy before the season is over yet.