The New York Yankees are headed back to the Bronx to take on the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 of the ALDS. New York walked away from Baltimore with a split, but if you are a Yankees fan you have to have a little bit of concern. The pitching has been good, but the hitting has disappeared. Like it or not, the linchpin of the batting order is Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees last won the World Series in 2009, which was A-Rod's best postseason since becoming part of the team. In fact, the Yankees have only advanced to three ALCS and one World Series during Rodriguez's time in New York. George Steinbrenner has instilled that this is not acceptable, anything short of winning it all is a complete failure. Moreover, Alex came to the Yankees to win championships.
Simply put, when Alex produces and hits in the clutch, the Yankees win. The veteran third baseman is currently hitting third, which is arguably too high in this offense. He is no longer the cleanup hitter or even the biggest threat in the lineup, but that doesn't mean his hitting foes can be dismissed or overcome.
If the Yankees want to win the ALDS, they need Alex to start producing. So far in this series against the Orioles, A-Rod is 1-9 with an ugly .111 batting average. He's scored one run and has no extra base hits and no RBI. What's worse is that he's struck out five times, including in the final at-bat last night to end the game.
Granted, it has only been two games, but in a five-game series, two games can be half your series or two-thirds of your games played.
For some perspective, in 2009 Alex was 5-11 in the ALDS, scored four runs and struck out only twice in only three games against the Minnesota Twins. Combined in the ALDS and ALCS, Alex was 14-of-31, scored 10 runs, had five extra-base hits and had only five strikeouts between the two series. His respective averages were .455 for the ALDS and .429 for the ALCS.
He was 5-for-20 in the World Series, with four of those hits going for extra bases. He had six RBI, but also struck out eight times in six games.
Perhaps a change of scenery will do A-Rod some good. Alex is hitting .292 at home this season with a slugging percentage of .448. Going into the final (potential) three games of the series, one thing is certain; if Alex Rodriguez can start producing, than the Yankees have a much higher chance of winning the series against their AL East foes.
Note: All stats were acquired from baseball-reference.com