Oh how things have changed. When Alex Rodriguez connected on a fastball from the Reds’ Logan Ondrusek, you saw Arod stand there for a second, looking up at the sky. You saw him flip his bat to the side and look into the dugout at his teammates, as if to say “I got you.” It seemed as if the Yankees had finally gotten the monkey of their back – a big hit in the latter innings of a close game. If you were watching on TV, you knew John Sterling was about to unleash the ”an A-Bomb….From Arod!” call on the radio. The camera followed the flight of the ball, high and majestic. Visions of his immortal 2007 MVP season came flooding back – even the 2009 postseason run.
The ball was caught.
That was the closest the Yankees would come to rally to beat the Reds on Sunday, as they once again lost 5-2. More troubling is the fact that it seems as if Alex Rodriguez has become the best singles hitter in the game. Of his 40 hits on the season so far, Arod has amassed 31 singles. His only extra base hits include five homers and four doubles. Already this year, Arod has sent several balls high, far, deep, but they land on the warning track as fly ball outs.
Arod is clearly healthy, hip, knee and all. He already has four stolen bases in 39 games. He had eight combined over the past two seasons in 236 games. Where is the power?
His slugging percentage has been on a steady decline over the past five-six years. Slg % measures power (Total Bases/At Bats):
Clearly Arod is not the player he once was. His streak of 13 straight seasons of at least 30 homers and 100 RBI came to an end in 2011 when he connected for 16 long balls and drove in 62 in 99 games. After getting surgery in Germany in the offseason on his knee and shoulder, Arod declared a full bill of health. And so far, he’s been healthy. But he’s been a shell of his former self when it comes to the power numbers. His home run totals have declined since the 2007 season, when he hit 54.
What the Yankees currently have on their hands is becoming a problem. Arod is only 36, still young enough to produce. However, he hasn’t been doing so. Alex due to make $29 million this year – $20 mil at age 41. They can’t be paying him this much money for him to produce like he has. Albert Pujols, who has a similar contract and who has struggled so mightily this year, even has more RBI than Arod does. This contract could become a huge albatross to the Yankees franchise. It will become a financial burden and will be very hard to justify the money when you consider the production. In a season that has been filled with mediocrity, Arod has been the poster child, as he is with most things that don’t go right. With the price tag comes expectations – to be great and to have the ability to carry the team when they need it. Well, when they needed it on Sunday, Arod couldn’t muster up enough to send the ball over the fence.
The days of 40 homers and 130 RBI are over for sure. He’ll have his moments this year, but are 30 and 90-100 a tall order for this season and beyond? We’ll see as the season plays out. But it is becoming more clear that the numbers will get uglier as the years progress. As the Yankees look to find their stride this year, their aging third basemen will no doubt be faced with the question: where has the power gone?