Say what you will about Alex Rodriguez, but everyone can agree that he is a pretty good baseball player with a vast amount of experience. He might not have set a very good example for young athletes throughout his career, but it is still possible for A-Rod to be an asset with his wealth of baseball knowledge. Looking at A-Rod's strengths as a player, his expertise could be very valuable to the future of the Yankees. A-Rod, who is likely looking to salvage what is left of his reputation, could definitely use the positive PR that comes with being a mentor, while less experienced players could stand to gain a lot by picking his brain.
Looking at A-Rod's profile as a hitter, two things jump out as extremely valuable skillsets. First, A-Rod has always done a great job of hitting for power to all fields. He has taken advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium more often than several lefties would hope to do. Since 2002, FanGraphs has A-Rod leading all hitters in opposite field home runs with 87, in addition to putting up a wRC+ of 120. However, further analysis reveals a disparity between his fly balls and his grounders:
While he hit a majority of his grounders to the left side of the infield, it may or may not be enough to warrant a shift. Still, if A-Rod can help any Yankee hitters hit to all fields with power, he might help neutralize the shifts that crippled the Yankees' offense in 2014.
Another skill that stands out is A-Rod's ability to hit fastballs in the upper part of the strike zone. Tons of research suggests that the MLB strike zone is continuously dropping, and that high heat is the new thing. A-Rod has never had much of a problem with high fastballs, as shown by his zone profile, once again from Brooks Baseball:
The cat is out of the bag when it comes to high fastballs within the baseball community, making A-Rod's superb plate coverage extremely valuable. Every MLB analytics department has undoubtedly caught onto this trend and has probably had a discussion about implementing more high heaters into their pitchers' approaches. If A-Rod can give some of the younger Yankees a lesson in hitting high fastballs, the Yankees would be ahead of what is looking like the next major trend in baseball.
Of course, several potential roadblocks exist. Approaches that worked for A-Rod, who was gifted with superhuman ability that was augmented by PED's, might not work for just anyone. In addition, looking at hitting coaches around the league, there is absolutely no reason to believe that being a good hitter has any impact on coaching ability. New hitting coach Jeff Pentland never reached the MLB, while assistant Alan Cockrell posted a career fWAR of -0.1 in 9 career games.
In any case, it is important that A-Rod try his hand as a mentor to younger hitters. Looking at the other high profile PED users, there is reason to believe that A-Rod can help. Mark McGwire is currently serving as hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Barry Bonds has served as a guest instructor for the Giants in addition to consulting for hitters around the league, including A-Rod himself. The Cubs believe Manny Ramirez can help push super-prospects like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez to the next level. No one really knows what Sammy Sosa is doing.
Furthermore, letting the public know that A-Rod has embraced a mentor role in the clubhouse would help calm the media firestorm surrounding his return. The resurrection of Alex Rodriguez will definitely be an intriguing storyline in 2015. But if he can help solidify the future of the Yankees, it might not be all that bad.