A year-and-a-half ago New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez was embroiled in the aftermath of the Biogenesis scandal. Now, the 39-year-old has quietly become one of the team’s most reliable hitters.
Rodriguez is among the AL leaders in home runs (5th) and slugging percentage (8th). He has as many homers as the last two league MVPs, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.
Compared to his last season with the Yankees, in 2013, Rodriguez has also improved his patience at the plate, increasing his walks through 44 games from 19 to 26, and increasing his average from .244 to .276. Even as early as the end of March, Yankees manager Joe Giradi told New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand he saw a difference.
“I definitely think he’s swung the bat pretty good,” he said. “I just think his at-bats are more consistent; his timing is more consistent.”
At a time when many thought they were in decline, Rodriguez and first baseman Mark Teixeira are the Yankees’ two best power-hitters. The duo have produced 25 of the team’s 58 home runs this season, and are the only two Yankees with a slugging percentage above .500 (with at least 10 games played).
After the Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals Tuesday, Teixeira told New York Post’s Ken Davidoff the key was for him and Rodriguez to just get healthy:
“Alex and I have enjoyed a lot of success together. The last few years, not as much. But when we’re healthy in the lineup, we can do some damage. We’re showing that right now.”
While Teixeira’s resurgence is still surprising, he was at least able to play baseball last year to keep fresh. Rodriguez was forced to sit all of last season as a result of his role in the Biogenesis scandal and a hip surgery — which makes his stellar production thus far even that much more remarkable.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the man who suspended Rodriguez, even praised the Yankees designated hitter’s performance at a press conference following the owners meetings last week:
“Look, I think Alex has done a great job re-entering a difficult situation. Whenever a player is suspended, it’s difficult to return to the field, and he’s played well. Good for him. I’m pleased for him.”
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