What to Expect from Alex Rodriguez?

March 2, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (13) has eye black applied before the game against the South Florida Bulls during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

A-Rod will turn 37 years old in July. There haven't been many great seasons from old third basemen over the years. In fact, only two have ever turned in a 6+ WAR season, Mike Schmidt in 1986 and Chipper Jones in 2008. It doesn't look encouraging for Alex, who continued his decline in 2011 (his bWAR has dropped each of the last four years). Below are the top 20 seasons for third basemen aged 36 or older -

Rk Player WAR/pos Year Age Tm Lg G PA
1 Chipper Jones 6.6 2008 36 ATL NL 128 534
2 Mike Schmidt 6.6 1986 36 PHI NL 160 657
3 Mike Schmidt 5.6 1987 37 PHI NL 147 613
4 Lave Cross 5.4 1902 36 PHA AL 137 595
5 Jackie Robinson 4.6 1956 37 BRO NL 117 431
6 Wade Boggs 4.5 1994 36 NYY AL 97 434
7 Tony Phillips 4.4 1995 36 CAL AL 139 643
8 Brooks Robinson 4.3 1974 37 BAL AL 153 622
9 Wade Boggs 4.1 1995 37 NYY AL 126 541
10 Vinny Castilla 3.4 2004 36 COL NL 148 648
11 Casey Blake 3.2 2010 36 LAD NL 146 571
12 Chipper Jones 3.2 2010 38 ATL NL 95 381
13 Tony Cuccinello 3.2 1945 37 CHW AL 118 450
14 Graig Nettles 3.1 1985 40 SDP NL 137 515
15 Pete Rose 3.1 1978 37 CIN NL 159 731
16 Jim Gilliam 3.1 1965 36 LAD NL 111 432
17 Stan Hack 3.1 1946 36 CHC NL 92 409
18 Tony Fernandez 3.0 1999 37 TOR AL 142 576
19 Melvin Mora 2.9 2008 36 BAL AL 135 570
20 Wade Boggs 2.9 1996 38 NYY AL 132 574

There are some good names on the list in addition to Schmidt and Jones: Robinson, Boggs, Rose and Nettles to name a few. But overall it's discouraging. What's considered an elite season? Maybe 7+ WAR. That means only one Yankee even came close last season (CC Sabathia at 6.9) and no 36+ third baseman's ever had an elite season.

One could make an argument that A-Rod will be an exception, considering he started his career at the more athletic position of shortstop and will go down as one of baseball's best players. The (former) athleticism should help as he approaches 40 and because of the money he's owed, he'll be guaranteed as much playing time as he can stand.

In terms of production, though, I'm not holding my breath. I think we'll be lucky to see Alex top 4 WAR in a season again. And even if he is producing, can he stay healthy for 140 games?

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