Via Bob Klapisch -
[Alex] Rodriguez has just six HRs in 165 at-bats this season, which works out to one every 27. Since 1998, Rodriguez’ rate has never been higher than 16.7.
One other damning metric to consider: throughout his career, 23 percent of Rodriguez’ fly balls have cleared the wall. This year, that percentage has dropped to 9.7.
So what gives? His detractors point to what they consider the obvious culprit. Rodriguez is (finally) off steroids, and thus reduced to the numbers of mere mortals. The slugger says, however, it’s all about timing.
“I’m seeing the ball well, I’m getting good swings, but I’ve definitely missed some chances to drive the ball,” Rodriguez said the other day. “It’ll come.”
It’s not just the HRs that have suffered, however. Rodriguez’ slugging percentage is at a 13-year low (.497). It’s still early, of course, and with three-quarters of the season remaining a surge isn’t just possible, it’s likely. But it’s also worth remembering Rodriguez’ stats have been in subtle decline for the last three seasons.
Ever since his MVP campaign in 2007, A-Rod has experienced drop-offs in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He’ll be 35 in another two months, and while Rodriguez is still capable of unique displays of power — just ask Jonathan Papelbon, who surrendered a ninth-inning HR to Rodriguez a week ago — one talent evaluator said, “I’m sure the Yankees are wondering if Alex is still in his prime or is now in his late prime. There’s a difference.”
Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado, Albert Belle, Jason Giambi, and Jeff Bagwell were all Cooperstown, or near-Cooperstown, sluggers whose bodies eventually gave out on them…is A-Rod the next one?
Yes, his hip condition was not an issue last season. And, reportedly, the doctors felt that Alex no longer needed any immediate follow-up repair to it. But, we’re one-quarter into this season now and clearly something is up with A-Rod’s long ball production.
At this point, it’s only worth watching – and not worrying. But, if it continues into July, then it’s a real problem worth worrying about…