Before I get into this post, I want to make one thing clear. I am not forgetting the incredible job Alex Rodriguez has done this season, nor what he has meant to this team, and I am not advocating that he be removed from the lineup indefinitely. That being said, I think anyone who has been watching him play all season can admit that he is a shadow of the player that slugged his way to the team lead in homers earlier this season. My solution to this problem is to rest him for a game or two, because he honestly looks like a corpse out there.
Those of you who have been watching all year know exactly how good Rodriguez was in the first half. Through the first four months, A-Rod played in 95 games and hit .282/.386/.544 with 62 runs, 24 home runs and 61 RBI. Paced out over 162 games, that's 40 home runs, and over 100 runs and RBI. Not only that, but he was getting some big hits against good pitchers, and helping–along with Mark Teixeira–to carry the offense which is still ranked among the top in the league, despite having disappeared over the last month or so.
Since August 1, A-Rod's season has completely turned around, and that's a very bad thing for this team. In 51 games in that span of time, he's hit .185/.285/.369 with only 9 home runs and 25 RBI. If you pace that out over 162 games, he'd end up with 25 home runs and 76 RBI. The last two numbers don't seem terrible if you take away the .185 batting average, but I think those numbers clearly illustrate what we have all seen with our own eyes. He's not the same player he was.
There are a few contributing factors to this decline in production. First of all, Mark Teixeira is no longer hitting around him in the order. This has cost the entire offense dearly, because Teix was right up there with A-Rod in the Comeback Player of the Year voting for this team, and maybe even the league. Any time you take that bat out of a lineup, the offense will suffer. At the same time, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have also stopped hitting. It's hard to drive in runs with no one on.
However, I think the biggest factor is obviously that Rodriguez looks like a corpse out there. That's not to say he's "done," or doesn't have it anymore, but rather to illustrate how exhausted he is. People forget that this guy missed all of 2014 due to a suspension. He's also missed time in previous years because of injuries. In fact, the 146 games A-Rod has played this year seem like a minor miracle when you look at his last few years in pinstripes. He's has played more games this season than in any other season since 2007, when he played 158 games and won the American League MVP. In the years since then, he's played 138, 124, 137, 99, 122, 44 and 0 games, respectively. Did I mention he's 40-years-old? There's no way he was physically prepared to play 146 games this season. I'm grateful that he has, but he probably shouldn't have.
I know some of you are thinking that he had a few days off when the Yankees played the Mets at Citi Field a couple of weeks ago, but he pinch hit in all three games. It might not seem like a big deal to pinch hit, and get a few at bats, but I would argue that he still had to prepare, both mentally and physically, so that he could be ready if they needed him those days. You could also argue that, even when he's at his worst, he's better than the alternatives. Frankly, I'm not sure who I would put in his spot. I guess I would DH Carlos Beltran and give Chris Young or Slade Heathcott the start in RF depending on the handedness of the pitcher. I'd take an untested Gary Sanchez over this A-Rod right now.
Joe Girardi talks all season about keeping his veterans fresh, but the team's desperation to hold onto that Wild Card spot seems to have thrown that out the window. Just because the team needs to win, it doesn't erase the last two months of exhaustion from A-Rod's plate. It might be too late, because I'm not even sure a day or two would help him right now, but it's clear that he's not helping the team right now, even if he can run into one now and again like he did against the Red Sox on Wednesday night. He's dead out there, and if he doesn't get some time off, he's going to continue to be dead if the Yankees win the Wild Card and have to play Tuesday.
Please, Joe Girardi, give the man a break!