Alex Rodriguez Is Doing Way Better Than You Thought He Would
Raise your hand if you saw this coming.
For Monday's game against Detroit, here was the New York Yankees' lineup.
That's right. Batting third, Mr. Biogenesis, Dr. Evil himself, the sinister Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod is back, guys, at least over the first two weeks of the season. In a minuscule sample size of 51 plate appearances, Rodriguez is hitting .286/.412/.643 with 4 homers, 11 RBI, and 10 runs scored. He has a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .449 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 188, and is already worth 0.6 Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR).
Remember all that talk about whether Rodriguez would even make the Yankees out of spring training? Um...
Alex Rodriguez is only player in MLB who is currently his teamâ€™s outright leader in batting average, HR, RBIs, runs and walks (via ELIAS)â€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 20, 2015
BAH GAWD!!! THAT'S ALEX RODRIGUEZ'S MUSIC!!!! pic.twitter.com/FDZzcdXq2Sâ€” CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 18, 2015
Now, it's far too early to start throwing WAR totals out at people. I mean, right now A-Rod is only 0.1 fWAR behind Mike Trout, and players such as Stephen Vogt, Salvador Perez and Jose Iglesias are all among the top-15 in fWAR, so it's important to pump the brakes for a minute.
That being said, Rodriguez is doing better than many thought he would do after not having baseballed for about a year and a half.
Alex Rodriguez's 477-foot HR was the longest at Tropicana Field in the last 10 years. It's the longest HR in the Majors this season.â€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 18, 2015
Through his first 13 games, Rodriguez is walking at the highest rate of his career, 17.6% of his plate appearances (career average is 11.0%). He's also striking out in 31.4% of his plate appearnces, far higher than his career norm (18.3%). And one can assume that .364 BABIP is going to come down a bit, too.
Can A-Rod create a mini-Renaissance in what might be his last year with the Yankees? The team is still determined not to pay him a $6 million bonus he would be due when he passes Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list (he currently has 658 homers, two shy of Mays' 660), and he's still greeting by boos whenever he plays outside Yankee Stadium. So there is work to be done.
But America loves a redemption story and they love second chances, and if he can keep this up with any consistency for the next few months, he will have written quite a fascinating final chapter on what was going to be a surefire Hall of Fame career before he ruined it with PED use.
As for whether this is sustainable or not, it's hard to say after only two weeks. Our projections have A-Rod hitting .235/.333/.410 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 385 plate appearances.
But given his hot bat and placement in the middle of the team's batting order, it's likely he's going to fly by those projections.
No matter what happens, it's been a very interesting, and totally surprising return, for the Darth Vader of baseball.