New York Yankees: 5 Ways Alex Rodriguez's Return Will Mean an AL East Title
Despite an injured Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees' offense has been on an incredible roll lately, as they have finally managed to pass the Boston Red Sox who have remained in the first-place position of the AL East standings for the majority of the season.
The third baseman underwent surgery on July 11 to repair his torn meniscus that has kept him out of the Yankee lineup since July 8. With good news coming out of rehab about A-Rod's performance on the plate, the Yankees are eager to greet back their clean up hitter who is expected to make a dominant return.
Although it is clear that the Yankees do not need Rodriguez at the moment, as they have proved that their offense has the caliber to advance to the playoffs without the Wild Card, having A-Rod on the team will only strengthen their chances of winning the AL East title. They may finally be able to come on top against their long time rivals.
Here are five ways Alex Rodriguez's return will mean an AL East title.
No. 5: Doing Well in Rehab
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Although Alex Rodriguez isn't playing the way he did before his injury, he is playing well, especially since he is still recovering.
During a rehab game on Tuesday night with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Rodriguez was unfortunately booed by fans when he fell short of catching two foul pop-ups. The poor fielding did not end there.
On Wednesday night he had the opportunity to end the inning with a double play. Unfortunately, he let the ball roll passed him.
OK, so maybe A-Rod is not playing too well in regards to fielding, but so what? There is no need to rush him back to third base since he is still recovering from injury. The Yankees' best bet is to keep him as a DH as he continues to recover.
Regardless of his fielding, he is performing great on the plate. In his first rehab game last Friday playing for Tampa's Class A Florida State League, he hit a long home run to left field in his first at bat. He later hit a RBI double and a RBI.
On Tuesday night, Rodriguez hit one single in three at bats. He continued to hit on Wednesday in his final rehab game as he went 1-for-2 with two walks. He even got himself a standing ovation in the eighth when he hit a RBI single.
Since returning to the Yankees, A-Rod plans to work with first-base coach Mick Kelleher to improve his poor fielding and with hitting coach Kevin Long on his hitting.
No. 4: With the Sox Injured, A-Rod Will Help Keep a Comfortable Lead
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Being placed on the disabled list this close to the playoffs is one of the worst times to be injured. Not only is your team fighting for their division title, as many teams are close to one game apart, but each game can decide whether they may advance to the playoffs or not. Because of this, each player needs to contribute and stay healthy.
As the Yankees are ahead of Boston in the standings at the moment, with one of their ace pitchers injured and A.J. Burnett pitching poorly, their other players have already been stepping up, proving that without their key players, they will be just fine.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Boston has some injured players of their own. Kevin Youkilis has returned to the has returned to the disabled list with a lower back strain. Although he is said to only be on the DL for 15 days, he is frequently injured and it would be no surprise if this was not his last trip to the DL this season.
David Ortiz, who is batting a .300 at the moment, is another key player who has been placed on the disabled list and who is expected to return soon.
With these two players out, A-Rod's return can ensure a comfortable lead in front of Boston until they return.
No. 3: Healthy and Relaxed
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Alex Rodriguez is known to play his best during the postseason. After rest and relaxation, he can play even better.
During the season, a baseball player has little time to relax. Between games almost everyday, practices, road trips, press conferences, media campaigns and more, it can be tiresome and can effect a players performance on the mound after a while.
Especially in Rodriguez's case, having to be as active as he is on a daily basis so soon after surgery can strain a player. Fortunately for Rodriguez, he has had about six weeks off to rest, recover and heal, as his long vacation of re-cooperation can cause A-Rod to come back healthy, relaxed and fresh.
He can finally join his fellow teammates, aiding them keep their first place position in the standings.
No. 2: He Can Pick Up the Starting Rotation's Slack
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When one area of a team is performing poorly on the field, it is up to others to perform well and pick up the slack of their struggling teammates.
At the moment, the starting rotation is pitching well, however there is room for improvement. As always CC Sabathia continues to produce dominant stuff on the mound. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the inconsistent A.J. Burnett.
On Saturday night, Burnett delivered one of his worst performances of the season. That's right, he has actually managed to pitch worse than many of his disgraceful outings this season. Pitching in only 1 2/3 innings, Burnett allowed a total of seven runs on five hits with three walks.
The starting pitcher has not pitched this bad since his April 30, 2004 catastrophe when he pitched for the Florida Marlins and allowed three runs on five hits and two walks.
Unfortunately, this game is just a continuation of his unreliable trend this season. For the month of August, Burnett has an ERA of 10.70, worse than last season.
To make matters worse, the key to their starting rotation, Freddy Garcia, has joined the 15-day disabled list because of a cut index finger on his throwing hand. With this injury so close to the playoffs, the Yankees need to make sure they can continue to stay ahead of Boston in the standings.
With Garcia out and Burnett pitching horribly, this is where Alex Rodriguez needs to come in.
Sure, we do not need A-Rod back desperately in regards to the offense, but what about the pitching? If Burnett continues to pitch as he did today, then we need all of the power hitters we can to drive in runs so that we at least stand a chance against the other team. With A-Rod back to hopefully pick up the slack, winning the AL East title should be no problem.
No. 1: Room for Improvement, Despite Dependable Offense
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At the moment, the New York Yankees have the most domineering offense in the AL East, as they have managed to score 6.25 runs per game in the last 34 games since A-Rod has joined the disabled list.
Their ability to blast home runs and constantly reach the base has lead to comfortable leads such as their 9-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 13, their 7-4 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, their 8-4 win against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday and plenty more.
The entire offense is contributing to their dominating roll. Derek Jeter, the hitter who began the season with many believing his 3000th hit would never come, is currently hitting a .290 and is expected to reach .300.
Curtis Granderson continues to lead the MLB with 114 runs, 10 triples and 98 RBI. Mark Teixeira may beat a record of his own, as he has exceeded his home runs from last year by one with 34 so far this season. He may even beat his home run record of 43 if he continues to perform up to par.
With a superior offense such as this one, Alex Rodriguez's presence on the team, which may happen any day now, will only secure their chances of advancing in front of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings.
Before he joined the disabled list in July, he maintained a .295 batting average. As the third baseman returns to his clean up position healthy, strong and picking up from where he left off.
Do the other teams in the AL East even stand a chance?
I think I should rephrase that, do any other teams in the MLB stand a chance?