Another October of post season baseball is here and once again the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez are involved. A-Rod and his woeful post-season stats were once again the talk of the town around most office water coolers as well as in NYC where its all about what have you done for me lately.
After receiving an email from a co-worker of mine last week detailing A-Rod's post-season failures, I responded with the idea that I truly believed A-Rod was poised to have the biggest post-season of his career, certainly his biggest as a Yankee. My reasoning for this is a simple two word phrase Yankee's fans far and wide have come to love...Mark Teixeira. This season marks the first post-season where A-Rod has solid, legitimate, power hitting protection in his lineup. Teixeira is a switch hitting, high average, plus power, gap to gap hitter, who has thrived in the Bronx and the new Yankee Stadium. Opposing pitchers must now be careful when pitching to the man in front of A-Rod and he is responding by driving in runs.
By the age of 24, a young shortstop, Rodriguez appeared in 15 post-season games with the Mariners. He was an unproven hitter, hitting in front of the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, and John Olerud. A-Rod hit .340 in those games (18-53), with 3 home runs, 3 Doubles, 8 RBIs, and 6 runs scored. He got pitches to hit and took advantage.
As a Yankee in the post-season from 2004 to 2007, Rodriguez struggled mightily. In those years A-Rod was arguably the most feared hitter in all of baseball, certainly in the American League. The most protection he had was an aging Gary Sheffield and a hot and cold Jason Giambi. Pitchers could be careful to him and force him to get himself out. If they walked him, so what, they could take their chances with Sheffield or bring in a lefty specialist to get Giambi out. As a result, A-Rod lacked patience and went into one of the worst post-season slumps in history.
Enter Teixeira. The switch-hitter is a match-up nightmare for opposing managers, and if you put him on, you can't afford to pitch around Rodriguez. A-Rod is finally getting good pitches to hit and he isn't missing them. In my opinion, the addition of Teixeira makes this Yankees team the best in recent years.
Rodriguez's line through 3 post-season games this season reads... .455 AVG (5-11), 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, 4 runs scored, 1.000 Slugging % and an OPS of 1.500. Not bad considering one comedian joked when asked about a possibly pregnant Kate Hudson, that it would be the first time A-Rod produced in October. Up Next...The Los Angeles of Anaheim.