On July 24th, Alex Rodriguez was struck by a Felix Hernandez pitch and suffered a broken hand. Since then, the New York Yankees have gone 6-7. Has the aging third baseman's importance to the team been underestimated?
Looking at the statistics, one would think that the Yankees haven't missed a beat at the plate since "A-Rod" was hurt. The team is hitting .286 in his absence—a very decent team average. In eight of the 13 games without Rodriguez, the team has 10 or more hits, and the club has scored 75 runs—an average of 5.77 per game.
Yet, there is that losing record.
Do they miss his defense at the hot corner? Yankee fans know that while Alex has worked hard to improve in the field, Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix have been more than worthy fill-ins. Both have exhibited good range and quickness, and neither has an error in their expanded roles. In addition, the recently acquired Casey McGehee has experience at the third base, so the team is well-covered there.
What is it, then, that gives this team the feel of something missing without the high-priced "A-Rod"?
Perhaps it is the lineup that manager Joe Girardi must now work with. Without Rodriguez, he has been forced to tinker with the order. He swapped Derek Jeter (from his customary lead-off spot) and Curtis Granderson (usually in the two-hole), and used different combinations of Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez and Granderson in the three through five hitter positions.
Each game seems to bring about a new look. Is that hurting their consistency?
There is one more factor that could be contributing to the Yankees recent run of mediocrity since Rodriguez has been gone, and I must admit, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd write this in a sentence.
Without Alex Rodriguez in their lineup, the New York Yankees lack the same "chemistry."
Whether you like it or not Yankees fans, the fact is that this team just doesn't have the same "aura" about it without "A-Rod" in the lineup. A batting order that contains Cano, Texeira and Chavez in the three, four and five spots doesn't strike the same sense of "invincibility" that it would if Rodriguez was on either side of Texeira.
He might not be the hitter he once was, but his name still carries the weight.
In spite of his reputation for not coming through in the clutch, of his nine RBI in the month of July, seven of them came when either it was a one-run game, or the Yankees were behind. In addition, Alex Rodriguez is among the team leaders in providing a spark to the offense, as his .342 average when leading off an inning ranks third on the team (behind Cano and Jeter).
In love/hate relationships you often do not realize what you have until it is gone. Such is the case with the man New York Yankees fans most love to hate. Without Alex Rodriguez in the lineup driving them crazy with frustration, the loyal followers of the "Bronx Bombers" are starting to realize just what a valuable piece to their success he has been.