We are not quite mid-way through the season and Alex Rodiguez is less than two months removed from his time on the disabled list, and nowhere near removed from the media's flaming maw.
If A-Rod hopes to ever cement a place in Cooperstown for himself than he better prove to fans that he can perform at or above the same level as he has in the past, before he admitted to failing a drug test, for banned substance, in 2003, even though those tests were supposed to remain a secret. What better way to help bring the controversy to an end, than A-Rod winning another MVP, his first since 2007.
Now, the idea of Alex Rodriguez winning the AL MVP this season after the steroid usage becoming public knowledge is slim at best, but before you count A-Rod out, and deny him a chance for the award perhaps thre are a few thins to be considered.
The first reason many people will give for discounting A-Rod from the MVP discussion this season is the fact he misses 28 games with a hip injury, which should lower his stats, making them not as impressive as somebody like teammate Mark Texeira.
While that is true, his stats more than likely will not be as impressive, you have to account for the 28 games missed by A-Rod, and then reconfigure the stats, based on the games since his return. If we subtract the home runs and RBI totals in the games Texeira played before A-Rod's return, he has 14 HRs, 44 RBI, and has scored 34 runs.
A-Rod has hit 12 home runs, has 39 RBI and scored 24 runs. While Texiera still leads in all three catagories, the numbers are a lot closer than they were before.
After the statistical breakdown above one could argue that Big Tex has performed better since the return of A-Rod. This may sound like it damages the arguement, but it in fact strengthens the arguement for A-Rod's MVP candidacy. Without the slugger in the lineup, the Yankees offense seemed to struggle.
In fact the Yankees seemed to struggle defensively too, and finished the 28 game stretch a miserable 13-15. They have flipped things around with the arrival of A-Rod.
Alex's presence take a lot of pressure of players like Texeira, Jeter, Swisher and others who had to step up at the plate and attempt to cover the explosiveness missing in the lineup. Not to mention A-Rod's absence sent the defensive alignment into a tail-spin.
If you have watched the Yankees this season, you have witnessed how they have played with a different tempo since A-Rod's return. They seem more like the Yankees we remember (and hate, if you're a Red Sox fan like me).
The idea of a player being named the MVP is that he is most valuable to his team, and while A-Rod may not appear to be the most valuable on paper, we must remind ourselves that games aren't played on paper.
Without his intimidating presence in the lineup pitchers can pick apart the Yanks. Players are forced into taking on other roles when your slugger is out of the order.
And for New York, A-Rod isn't just a bat in the lineup. He is a personality. As much as Yankee fans claim he isn't a true Yank like Jeter, A-Rod is what makes this team. He is the superstar who takes the spotlight off the rest of the team so they can perform at their best. Love him or hate him A-Rods prescence makes the New York Yankees the New York Yankees.