Alex Rodriguez’s opt-out deadline is exactly one month from today. Thus, we’ll have plenty of time to parse all of his stats. But in light of Paul’s post on what you’d pay A-Rod, and in light of yet another “Choketober” postseason by the vaunted Yankees offense, I intended to cast the harsh light of day on A-Rod’s Heimlich-worthy playoff numbers.
But Tom Verducci got there first. Since the 5th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS–when New York’s fortunes began to go south–Rodriguez:
• went 8-for-59, a .136 batting average.
• batted with a total of 38 runners on base and left every single one of them on base. Not one did he drive in. He went 0 for 27, including 11 strikeouts, in at-bats with runners on.
• went 0 for 12 with a total of 17 runners in scoring position, driving in none of them.
I looked at his numbers during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 regular seasons. He had a .309 batting average over that period—172 points higher than his postseason average. He knocked in an average of 136 RBI and 46 homers. But if he can’t make it happen in October, what’s the point of having him on your team? Sure, he had some highlight reel clutchness at the start of the season, but by the law of averages, that just meant his choketitude would rear its ugly head when it really counts, which it did. I’ve joked about the “Curse of A-Rod,” but as many others have noted, it’s been 21 years since the team with the highest-paid player won the World Series. As Verducci suggests (and as I was going to write before he scooped me, I swear), it could be better for New York to just ditch A-Rod and spend the money on pitching. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll do it—New York is famous for not having to make those sorts of either/or decisions. As we say around the office, “It’s a both/and!”
It’s a safe bet that A-Rod will make between 35 and 40 million dollars a year. It’s not inconceivable that A-Rod could make 50 million per year. Is he worth it?
Keep in mind that the Pirates, Nats, Marlins, and D-Rays all had entire payrolls of under 40 mill this season, and that the two teams playing in the NLCS (Rockies and Diamondbacks) have payrolls between 50 and 60 million.
So I pose a new question: Would you rather finance A-Rod? Or most of your starting lineup?
(Hot-stove speculation is the only time of year baseball makes me sad. Because honestly, I do start thinking about what else that money could be doing. If the rumors are right and it will take $300 million to sign A-Rod, that will give him more purchasing power—-including the $252 million he’s already earning—-than 21 nations listed by the CIA World Factbook.)