Alex Rodriguez: From Playoff Dud to Stud

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Alex Rodriguez: From Playoff Dud to Stud
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

During the 2009 regular season, Alex Rodriguez posted up good numbers overall. Unlike previous seasons, he did not head the team in home-runs and runs batted in. The 2009 campaign was Alex Rodriguez's way to say that he was now a team player.

After admitting to using steroids in the past, while with the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez began to preach the fact that he was now focused on winning more as a team than just for himself.

A-Rod missed part of the beginning of the season  due to a hip injury. When he returned he looked stronger than ever. Along with Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, he helped carry the team as they were making the last push for the postseason. That is where his focus began to change.

After winning the American League East, his goal changing into winning World Series No. 27 for the Yankees and putting his first championship ring around his finger.

If one were to look at Rodriguez's past playoff appearances and Rodriguez's current postseason statistics, they would easily look like comparing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the past, Rodriguez was targeted as an easy out by opposing pitchers in the playoffs.

Former Yankees manager, Joe Torre, even dropped the Yankees third-baseman from the fourth batter's spot all the way down to the eighth slot. But now after hitting one of his biggest home runs of his career, Rodriguez has made himself known as a force not to be reckoned with in the lineup.

The 12-time All-Star is no stranger to tabloid and newspaper headlines. Whether he is being linked to Madonna or playing poker with a few buddies, the media never stops following Alex Rodriguez. But after his recent performance in the American League Division Series, many reporters will stop asking Rodriguez and his teammates questions about why he isn't hitting well.

It takes a lot of pressure and work off of the other players on the team, just knowing every one (including A-Rod) is holding up their part of the job. It also shows that everyone has the same goal of bringing one more championship trophy to New York.

The Yankees hope that Alex Rodriguez continues to perform at such a high level throughout the rest of the 2009 postseason. In the first two games of the ALDS, Alex Rodriguez is batting an even .500 (4-for-8) and has driven in five runs.

Entering Game One of the 2009 ALDS, Alex Rodriguez was 0-for-18 with men on base ready to score. But now he is 3-for-3 with runner in scoring position which is a big reason why the Yankees are entering Game Three of the ALDS ready to sweep the Minnesota Twins and their pitcher, former Yankee Carl "American Idle" Pavano. 

The Yankees have veteran Andy Pettitte starting the third game of the series. The Minnesota Twins are 0-9 against the New York Yankees this season and it is really hard for them to be confident of winning a game even with their best pitcher on the mound with a lead.

Game Two was a perfect example of how determined the Yankees are in their quest for the 27th World Series title. The Twins closer, Joe Nathan, entered the game on Friday night with a two run lead, and all the Twins needed were three outs to tie the series at 1-1.

Then the Yankees retaliated and were able to beat the Twins with one of their best guys on the mound.

When Pavano is the team's final hope, fans should say a few prayers before they cheer on their beloved team. Ron Gardenhire has praised the former-Yankee failure for his hard work and clutch performances to get the team where they are now. Pavano has been criticized for just pitching for a contract.

The last time he posted numbers as good as they are now, was before he signed with the Yankees and had a career year for the Marlins. So now the stage is set for both Alex Rodriguez and Carl Pavano. Pavano will have to face the tough Yankee slugger at some point during the game, and Rodriguez is currently as hot as anyone can get right now.

The matchup is currently in the Yankees favor, which is just the way Rodriguez wants it.

It is just one step closer to Rodriguez's first World Series ring.

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