Aside from being called out by Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had, by his career standards, a miserable first half of the 2012 MLB season. A-Rod hits the All-Star break with a .269 batting average, 13 home runs, only 38 RBI, and a slugging percentage (.436) and OPS (.793) that would be career worst and are more than 100 points below his career averages.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has contined to pencil Rodriguez into the third (44 times) and fourth (35 times) spots in the Yankee lineup. The Yankee manager continues to insist that Rodriguez' power numbers will improve in the second half of the season.
He’s due. It is what it is. Sometimes guys don’t get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. … No one knows what the future holds, but I would say he’s due. Maybe he hasn’t driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he’s been on base, he’s hit some home runs and he’s a middle of the order guy.
What choice does Girardi really have but to say that? Not much, just like he has little choice but to keep penciling him in and putting him in the middle of the lineup.
Is there, however, any real evidence that Girardi is right? Not really. The evidence overwhelmingly shows that Rodriguez is doing what 36-year-old 19-year major-league veterans generally do. He is declining.
A-Rod's last great season as a Yankee was way back in 2007, when he won the American League MVP after batting .314 with 54 homers, 156 RBI, a .645 slugging percentage and 1.067 OPS. Since then his batting average, slugging percentage and OPS have declined each season. His on-base percentage is down from .422 in 2007 to .357. He did hit 35 homers and drive in 125 runs in 2010, but his ancillary power numbers still showed decline.
Rodriguez has become good, but not great. His numbers really almost identical to those of Nick Swisher.
Can he have a monster second half? Girardi, A-Rod and Yankees batting coach Kevin Long will tell you he can. Yankee fans would like to think so.
The reality, though, is that Rodriguez is a 36-year-old who has only briefly shown flashes of his former greatness the past two or three seasons. He has not given us any reason thus far in 2012 to think that is about to change.