Alex Rodriguez's time with the New York Yankees has been full of ups and downs. He was acquired from the Texas Rangers after three of his best seasons as a ball player. While his first season wearing the pinstripes had its bad moments, he quickly showed Yankee fans what they were in store for.
He hit 36 home runs and drove in 106 RBI. He also went toe-to-toe with Jason Varitek in one very memorable game against the Red Sox in 2004. His next six seasons saw him hit no fewer than 30 home runs and bat above .270, all while knocking in triple-digit runners.
While he has been both celebrated and repulsed by many baseball fans, he still continues to play at a high level.
That is until this year.
Here are three reasons why to expect an A-Rod collapse this season.
*Now before you all go and rip my head off for saying such blasphemous things, bear with me till the end of this slideshow.*
This issue is perhaps this biggest concern surrounding A-Rod.
In recent years, A-Rod has suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee, a "bum" left shoulder and a sprained left thumb.
Last season (his worst since turning pro) saw him play only 99 games, bat .276 and hit 16 home runs. He was only a ghost of himself. He was not able to contribute much to the Yankees lineup, though he did play somewhat better on defense, only committing six errors.
With his most recent rash of injuries, he was forced to try a relatively new procedure, called "plasma-rich platelet" therapy, suggested by another oft-injured star, Kobe Bryant.
So A-Rod flew to Germany to have this therapy done in hopes that he will become healthy enough to play over 150 games, something he hasn't done since 2007.
However, that might not be enough.
Playing baseball nearly everyday is very physically demanding. He has to keep his body in tip-top shape, day in and day out. That means hitting the gym and working on fielding and batting practice. All this can take a huge toll on the body, especially since the season lasts 162 games (not including the postseason).
He will continue to struggle with injuries this season, which will limit his playing time and ultimately cost him some of his production.
I do not think that his injuries will be particularly bad like last year's, but they will limit his ability to play the game up to his high expectations. I can see him playing more than 99 games this year, but he will struggle with his defense and power numbers.
Hiding the age lines.
No, A-Rod is not some kind of magician. He cannot reverse the effects of time, bringing him back to his Texas Ranger days.
A-Rod, currently 36, is not getting any younger. Taking a look at his stats since 2007, it becomes very apparent that his age is affecting his ability to play the game.
2007 was a great year for A-Rod. He smashed 54 home runs, drove in 156 runners and batted .314 with a .645 slugging percentage. That season saw him have his best OPS at 1.067. He brought home the Silver Slugger award, the Hank Aaron Award and the MVP trophy.
Ever since the end of that magnificent season, his numbers have dropped. His batting average fell to .302 the next season, then .286 in 2009 and .270 in 2010.
He started hitting less home runs as well. His 54 in 2007 was the second most he had hit in his career (57 in 2002), but his power went into a subsequent decline in the following seasons: 35 in 2008 and only 30 apiece in 2009 and 2010.
By all accounts, he was past his prime, though he was still preforming fairly well for someone his age.
History is against A-Rod, and history always wins.
If you want to read more about baseball players and age, I recommend this website. It provides some interesting stats as well as peek age by skill.
New York City is arguably one of the hardest places to play. Every fan is so critical of their team that it leaves no room for error.
A-Rod has always had a mixed relationship with the Yankee fans and the city. There are some days that he just cannot do anything right. Other days, he is the apple of their eye. Yankee fans expect nothing but the best from their team and not winning a World Series trophy is a lost season. The fans expected A-Rod to be a star player, not leaving him any room to be human.
It is not only the fans that pester the Yankee star.
The paparazzi love to follow him around and take annoying pictures of him doing ordinary, and sometimes not so ordinary things. If I were him, I too would hide behind a parking meter to avoid unwanted photos.
All this attention and distraction can really take a mental toll on a player and have an impact on their performance. Every time he misses a ground ball or strikes out looking, it will add more fuel to the fire of the fans who want to see him fail.
I feel as if the pressure of playing for a hyper-critical fanbase, his age and injury concerns all spell disaster for A-Rod.
He is not the kid with the frosted tips anymore. He is getting older and this year, we will see a new low for Alex Rodriguez.
He will slowly see his number of games played drop, which will signal the beginning of the end for A-Rod's career as a Yankee.
At least he can still be traded to different teams looking for a veteran.