When the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to an obscene 10-year, $275 million contract, they did so with the idea that he would not only help them win ball games, but also pack some seats. It’s part of the reason why he could qualify for up to $30 million in bonuses based on how many historic home runs he hits.
But since hip surgery and a steroid admission, is A-Rod the same lock to hit 763 home runs as he once was? Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal wondered the same thing:
After tying Mr. Robinson (A-Rod is tied with Frank Robinson for 7th all-time with 586 home runs) Sunday night against the Red Sox—and dodging questions about his nemesis, Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden—Mr. Rodriguez shrugged off talk about his drought.
“Home runs, I never look at that as a big issue,” he said. “I take my walks and be productive.”
Indeed, Mr. Rodriguez had more walks than strikeouts through the Yankees’ first 30 games, which is unusual for him and a testament to how good his batting eye is.
But another development this season is a slight change—so far, anyway—in how pitchers are pitching him. Mr. Rodriguez is seeing more fastballs. About 63% of the pitches he has faced have been fastballs, up from 59% last season.
Should this continue, it could present a challenge to Mr. Rodriguez, whose numbers have declined as he enters his mid-30s against pitchers who bring heat. In 2007, when he hit 54 homers and won his third most valuable player award, Mr. Rodriguez had a robust .574 slugging percentage against “power pitchers”, according to Baseball Reference.com, which defines them as pitchers who rank in the top third in strikeouts. In 2008, though, that figure fell to .504, and it slipped further last season to .473.
Thoughts : My first thought here is that this is a guy trying to write a sensational article based off a very small sample size. Yes, A-Rod is getting on in his career and there is always some form of drop-off in numbers to go along with that, but after barely one month of this season, his numbers are particularly effected by the small sample size. A-Rod simply hasn’t gotten hot yet and this reporter is trying to infer information without enough data to back it up.
Further more, he seems to forget that A-Rod isn’t just signed through the next six seasons, but the next eight. That makes a big difference as he would only need to average about 22 home runs, not 30, per season, including this one, to pass Bonds. He would have to have a Ken Griffey Jr. like drop-off for this to even be considered.
Of course, it is possible that A-Rod could pull a Griffey, a guy who we all probably thought was destined to break then-Hank Aaron’s home run record at one point. My point is that it is way too early to start claiming that he’s slowing down and worry that he might not meet the mark. I mean, give him one season at least.
Thoughts? Is A-Rod still the lock he was to break the record when the Yankees resigned him? Or have steroids/injuries done him in?