2013 Statistics: 44 Games, .244/.348/.423, 6 2B, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 113 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
2014 Contract Status: Signed ($25 million)
Alex Rodriguez has had an... interesting year in 2013 for multitude of reasons. One of the less talked about ones was his actual season on the baseball field, which right from the beginning was the most difficult that he's ever had.
A-Rod was booed out of Yankee Stadium with the rest of the team at the end of 2012 after a dreadful postseason that can be at least partly attributed to the fact that he was playing with a hole in his left hip. After discovering the injury, Rodriguez went on a training program to strengthen the hip before undergoing surgery in mid-January. The estimated recovery time was six months, and the Yankees were looking for a return around the All-Star break.
From the surgery on, A-Rod underwent six months of training and rehabilitation to go along with constant allegations and controversy. In the midst of all of it, the Yankees replacement third base crew led by David Adams and Luis Cruz offended the eyes of Yankee fans everywhere with a .218/.281/.293 line and a wRC+ of 56 in the first half of the season.
Rodriguez was finally activated by the Yankees on August 5, which just happened to be the same day he was suspended by Major League Baseball for his alleged involvement in something called "Biogenesis", in case you haven't heard of it. Playing through his appeal, the rest of A-Rod's season could essentially be split into two parts. The first part, A-Rod returned and played about as well as he has in two years. Yankee fans were simply hoping for an improvement over the fringe major leaguers that had been handling the position for the first four months, but they got much more than that.
Finally healthy, A-Rod looked like A-Rod again. From the day he returned through September 12, he hit .294/.391/.504 with an OPS of .896, which was more productive than every Yankee except Alfonso Soriano over that time. Rodriguez also played in 33 of the team's 36 games over that span and all but three at third base. He responded to being thrown at by Ryan Dempster by hitting the longest home run of the Yankees season at Fenway Park, and his return (along with the resurgent Alfonso Soriano) led the Yankees back into the playoff chase. After his three-walk game on September 12, the Yankees were one game out of a playoff spot. Clearly, A-Rod was excited about this.
Unfortunately, this was 2013, and therefore a Yankees' third baseman playing like someone who looks like he actually belongs in the league couldn't continue. Rodriguez began to get plagued by problems he has become far too familiar with, as nagging injuries to his lower half limited him for the remainder of the season. He tweaked his hamstring scoring on a single by Robinson Cano on September 10, and (while playing through it) injured his calf in Boston a few days later. The injuries limited Rodriguez to DH duties for the rest of the season and they seemed to affect his performance at the plate. He finished the season 3 for 37 and was basically unable to run as the Yankees playoff hopes plummeted in the final weeks of September. His lone highlight over that period was his 24th career grand slam against the San Francisco Giants on September 20, passing Lou Gehrig for most all time.
Alex Rodriguez showed in 2013 that he still has the ability to play baseball at a high level when he's healthy. He also reminded everyone that he is 38 years old and not getting any younger, and that any injuries to his legs have a drastic effect on him at the plate. He's always a risk to be plagued by injuries, and even though a full offseason of training will have him in better shape than he was when he returned, Joe Girardi will need to manage him cautiously to get the most out of him going forward.
As of right now, he is the Yankees' third baseman heading into 2014. Those plans however are dependent on MLB arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who will need to decide whether to uphold or overturn A-Rod's 211 game suspension. As legal war intensifies between A-Rod's legal team and MLB, all the Yankees can do is wait for the final decision.