New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez may not be playing like a three-time MVP or a man worth a fraction of his $275 million contract.
However, he has been an integral part of Robinson Cano‘s most recent success. Cano is hitting .453 in the 14 games since A-Rod made his return to the diamond from his second hip surgery in two years. That is the highest batting average in the majors in that span. It includes Cano’s 6-for-10 day in Tuesday’s double-header against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the 14 games prior to A-Rod’s return, Cano was hitting just .189. Since then, he’s raised his batting average 20 points from .288 to .308. He has also hit safely in 13 of 14 games with 10 RBIs and five doubles.
He looked especially dominant in Game 1 of Tuesday’s twin bill, when he belted a 426-foot home run to dead center in the third and added a run-scoring double in the seventh en-route to a 4-for-4 game. It was his third four-hit game of the season, and second since A-Rod returned.
It also doesn’t hurt that A-Rod has hit pretty well himself right off the bat. In his first 13 games, he’s hit .296 with two home runs, including a majestic 446-foot home run off Ryan Dempster, who had intentionally plunked him two at-bats before on Sunday.
His presence in the lineup, along with Alfonso Soriano (who has been on a nice little tear himself recently), has provided more protection for Cano and therefore is allowing him to see more hittable pitches than he was seeing with B-listers Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay hitting behind him.
This sort of boost from A-Rod is nothing new to the Yankees. In 2009, the team went 13-15 in its first 28 games without its superstar slugger, and went 90-44 after he returned, eventually capturing the best record in baseball and the World Series.
2013 is obviously much different. The Yankees have been decimated by injuries all season and as a result have put themselves 6.5 games behind in the AL East and 5.5 behind the second Wild Card spot.
That said, the Yankees, along with Cano, have felt the impact of A-Rod’s presence in the middle of the batting order as they try to make a run toward the postseason.