Many in the media have jumped all over Derek Jeter while ignoring the fact that Alex Rodriguez is batting .256. Granted, 24 games is a small sample, but after a good start, A-Rod is slumping. Or is it more than merely a slump?
A-Rod has gone through two full seasons without hitting at least .300. In 2009 he hit.286, and last season, he and Jeter each batted .270. The fact that he hit 30 home runs last season got him off the hook, as did his injured hip, but in the age of statistics, the following is interesting.
Rodriguez has averaged 43 home runs over a 162 game season. Last season, he hit 13 fewer home runs than his career average, which was a 30 percent decline.
Jeter has averaged 16 home runs a season over a 162 game season. He hit only 10 last year, or 6 fewer than his career average, which was a 37.5 percent decline.
It cannot be denied that Jeter is having problems, but so is Rodriguez.
A-Rod had a great spring. On March 20, his OBS was 1.475. He finished the spring with a .388 average and six home runs.
Realistically, he said that he doesn’t put much value on spring training numbers, especially since many of the pitchers he faced were headed back to the minors.
The New York Yankees were shut out by Max Scherzer last night as A-Rod went hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts as his slump continued.
Rodriguez is going to be 36 years old at the end of July. It has been pointed out repeatedly that shortstops decline precipitously after the age of 35 or 36. The same is not quite true of the great third baseman.
The greatest third baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt, had two of his greatest seasons at the ages of 36 and 37, but when he was 38, his home run total dipped from 35 to 12. The last time Rodriguez hit as many as 35 home runs was 2008, which was also the last year he hit at least .300.
George Brett, whom some consider greater than Schmidt, declined after the age of 37, while Wade Boggs, whom some consider greater than Brett, never really lost his ability to hit.
There is hope for Rodriguez, but the disturbing fact is that his numbers have been declining following his great 2007 season.
Many would like to ignore it, but A-Rod admitted using steroids while with the Texas Rangers. He must be believed when he unequivocally states that he hasn’t used any performance enhancing substances while a member of New York’s other team.
If he had not switched positions from shortstop to third base, A-Rod would have been ranked as the greatest shortstop of all time. Since he is in only his eighth year as a third baseman and seemingly is past his peak, he will not eclipse Schmidt as the best third baseman ever, but Rodriguez is clearly the best third baseman in Yankees’ history.
One factor that is not good for the Yankees but which helps A-Rod is the fact that the entire Yankees’ team is in an offensive funk. Not one regular is hitting .300. The team is batting only .250 and slugging .458. The bright side is that the Yankees’ .458 leads the league in slugging. A-Rod may merely be a member of a group of hitters slumping at the same time.
It is still early in the 2011 season. There is much time for Rodriguez to have an outstanding offensive season, but a wait and see attitude is necessary.
The feeling here is that A-Rod is merely in an extended slump and he will break out soon, but the Alex Rodriguez who hit 54 home runs will remain a pleasant memory.