Baseball is an amazing game. One day, a player can be on top of the world, enjoying a successful season on the way to helping his team to a 103-win season and a division championship. That player might even elevate his performance come October and help lead his team to the ultimate goal, a World Series Championship. That performance may have even finally lifted the weight of New York and the baseball community off of his shoulders, shedding the label of a playoff choke artist.
Baseball is also a very cruel game. One day, a player can be on top of the world, but in the blink of an eye, he's finding out that he has a torn labrum in his hip that could potentially end his career. He would need extensive rehab, and even if he did return from the surgery, he may never be the player he once was. Not even two full calendar years later, and he would need another surgery, this time to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Alex Rodriguez has been an amazing baseball player for a long time. He has done things within the sport of baseball that his contemporaries could only dream of: batting titles, home run crowns, Gold Gloves, three MVPs, a World Series ring. If you name it, Alex Rodriguez has probably accomplished it, and frankly, he's probably done it in a way that made you shake your head and say, wow, that was unbelievable.
It must be difficult to go from one of the greatest players of a generation to questioning if your career will continue. To dealing with major surgeries and rehabs. To gradually lose an ability that at one point separated you from some of the greatest athletes in the world. To go from being the savior of baseball to the man that may never reach Barry Bonds' record of 762 career home runs.
That's what makes it so difficult to watch him now. Though he has remained productive through singles and walks, Alex Rodriguez is no longer playing like the hitter that has placed him among the greatest ever. Through 155 plate appearances, Rodriguez has just eight extra base hits, five homers and three doubles. Rodriguez has been known to have inconsistent power production, with his homers coming in bunches. However, his lack of extra-base power is alarming. Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues noticed this as well, stating, "if there is any concern about A-Rod it is his lack of doubles. He has just three on the season, which could indicate that he's just not driving the ball as he should."
These observations are supported by A-Rod's single-digit extra base hit production and an ever-declining ISO. Since his epic 2007 in which he posted an ISO of .331, A-Rod has watched his ISO decline in each of the following seasons. In 2012, his ISO sits at .135, below the American League average of .154 and far lower than his career low of .185 last season. Right now, Alex Rodriguez is a below average power hitter.
It is well documented around here that I expected Alex Rodriguez to continue to watch his power decline. The combination of his age, surgeries, recent history, and research stating that power has a tendency to drop off a cliff seemed insurmountable to me. However, even I am shocked by how much it has fallen this season.
I want nothing more than for him to begin hitting like the player he once was, or at least regain a fraction of his old form. Hopefully, the homers will come in bunches like they have in the past and we'll see some of his power numbers start to look more like Alex Rodriguez's than Rafael Furcal's. Until then, I won't hold my breath, but I'll be cautiously optimistic that he eventually finds a way to start hitting for more power.