Alex Rodriguez, Born Again

Alex Rodriguez was The Prodigy, a killer shortstop in his teens that did everything. Then he was The Contract, the super star handcuffing a Texas team from being any better just by virtue of his salary. Then he was The Newcomer, the new third baseman in the Bronx that wasn’t quite a True Yankee, even when he helped bring a title to town.

Now he’s The Heel, possibly ratting on players, inspiring hate from opposing pitchers, hitting home runs and glaring back at the world as he grinds his cleats into home plate. It might be his best act ever.

But what is his fantasy value, exactly?

Let’s say we ignore the steroid implications and look just as his numbers. We fantasy players are a fairly agnostic bunch, if he’s going to produce, he’s going to be owned. Even if he is Rowdy.

In his role as a 38-year-old third baseman, he’s already in trouble before the curtains rise. Since 1994, there have been only four qualified seasons from these rare birds. Since Jamey Carroll‘s season last year (.268/1HR/9SB) only played in the middle infield, and even Wade Boggs‘ 1996 (.311/2/1) would have been out of place at third base, that means we’d be hoping for 1997 Gary Gaetti (.251/17/7), 2011 Chipper Jones (.275/18/2) or 2001 Cal Ripken (.239/14/0). More like Adullah the Butcher than Jake the Snake here.

Then again, this Alex Rodriguez won’t put up a qualified season. His reign will be short, like Billy Graham’s. He’ll be lucky to manage 200 plate appearances, something 25 men have managed in baseball’s current offensive environment. Not one of them has hit 20 home runs in a season. That’s a lot to ask of an older man trying to stay spry at the hot corner. It’s also why I wouldn’t pencil The Heel in for more than a 20-homer pace.

Right now, thanks to some love from the batted ball (there’s very little love for him elsewhere, but he does own a .371 BABIP), he’s got a good batting average. And if we believe last year’s numbers, he’s capable of stealing double-digit bases. With better-than-league average power, good speed even at his age, and a batted ball mix that skews towards grounders, we could believe that he might be able to put up his career BABIP (.318) going forward.

Give him that BABIP and his current power, and this version of Rodriguez will look the one that we saw the last two years: .270-ish batting average, 20-hr type pace, and a few steals. Maybe late-vintage Flair, but that’s a viable third baseman in most formats. Useful, but probably not better than Aramis Ramirez or Chase Headley, third baseman that are available in more than a quarter of Yahoo leagues. Todd Frazier, David Freese and Mike Moustakas? Rodriguez might be a better deal than those three guys, and they’re all owned in more leagues. (A healthy Moose would give me the most pause.)

But that would be the ‘natural’ aging curve. Of course any analysis has to wrestle with the fact that Rodriguez is accused of taking steroids recently. And that he’s admitted to doing it in the past. And that all the other co-conspirators that shopped at the same drug store have gone down. He did it. He’s been on steroids while showing those okay fantasy seasons for a third baseman.

But has he stopped? Or did he just get a new chemist? What would Vince McMahon do? (Well, we know what Vince McMahon would do.)

Without knowing that, we can’t say for sure that we can’t just look at his recent seasons in an effort to project the rest of this season. Rodriguez once said he was done doing them, and now he’s accused of continuing. You’d think that someone with his career on the line wouldn’t risk it, but he also has something to gain from playing well in this period. (“See I didn’t need them.”)

We tried a physics-based muscle-and-result approach to sussing out Ryan Braun without steroids, and we don’t need to replicate that here. There may not be much of a year next year for Rodriguez anyway. Before his mammoth home run last night, he was showing a reduced distance on his homers and flies (273 feet, down from 299 career), but that will surely change shortly. And power is such a problem child in short samples.

Alex Rodriguez has been many different people over his career, but always fantasy useful. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us, then, if even The Heel can help our fantasy teams out for the stretch run.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


31 Responses to “Alex Rodriguez, Born Again”

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  1. Jake says:

    He was never “The Kid”

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Obviously not literally. I don’t remember anyone calling him The Contract either.

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    • Jake says:

      The Prodigy?

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      • A-Rod the kid??! Pffffffftttttttt says:

        It was a very half-baked and downright stupid idea referring to Ram-Rod as ‘The Kid’. You can’t just toss the nickname of the most talented and likable player of our generation on Selig’s Scapegoat like it’s no big deal. I wouldn’t entrust No-Rod with licking the piss stains off of Griffey Jr’s jock strap, let alone living up to the lofty expectations that come with the phrase ‘The Kid’.

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      • A-Rod the kid??! Pffffffftttttttt says:

        It was a very half-baked and downright stupid idea referring to Ram-Rod as ‘The Kid’. You can’t just toss the nickname of the most talented and likable player of our generation on Selig’s Scapegoat like it’s no big deal. I wouldn’t entrust No-Rod with licking the piss stains off of Griffey Jr’s jock strap, let alone living up to the lofty expectations that come with the phrase ‘The Kid’.

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      • Jake says:

        I created a monster. Chill out man. It’s an article about the fantasy relevance of A Rod. The content of this article is great.
        I got caught up on “The Kid” obviously, but did it in a way that is respectful to the author.
        A Rod brings out the inner troll in a lot of us, but you took it too far.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        IT’s all good and it’s better now. I knew Kid wasn’t great, but I tried a couple other ‘young man’ nicknames and didn’t like any, so I just went with it. Better as Prodigy.

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  2. brianwilliams42 says:

    Batting cleanup in the Yankees now-less-bad lineup is also a benefit. Should lead to slightly more R/RBI than the average .270/20 HR hitter.

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  3. rustydude says:

    If controversial-new-article-about-a-player was a fantasy category, he’d have to be the #1 pick off the board.

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  4. Eric says:

    Need help at 3rd and no AROD! Currently have Arenado…Donaldson was just dropped and Gyorko is also out there. How would you rank the three ROS? Thanks!

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Donaldson is clearly ahead of the pack for me. I think he’s .280+ with a bit more power even if he doesn’t steal and I honestly can’t see A-Rod stealing a bunch.

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  5. yosoyfiesta says:

    Kate Hudson is in therapy, Derek Jeter got injured on purpose so that he didn’t have to stand on the same field, Girardi got tossed to avoid managing him and Barry Bonds won’t even take his calls, the Dumpster threw at him, if all is right in the world of baseball, he won’t be the last…ARoid is the pits, wish Pedro was still around, he knew how to strum a chin

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  6. TheoK says:

    As a Yankee fan, I hope people keep throwing at A-Rod too. nothing better than that to fire this team up, plus his OBP will be great

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    • yosoyfiesta says:

      If you’re still pulling for ARoid to be successful, you’re not much of a baseball fan must be. Guess that’s reminiscent of the average Yankee fan though, ‘Pinstripes or die!’ I’m sure the classy Yanks fans remain relatively quiet in their shame. It’s the perfect dichotomy to describe Yankee faithful actually, you’ve got the Jeters of the world, all class, ultimate opponents who appreciate the game and its history and then you’ve got the ARods, bunch of soul-less choads who think Murderer’s Row is where inmates go to have their last meal.

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      • Bluefin Tuna says:

        Go fuck yourself, Brewers fan!

        Let’s Go YANKEES! Pinstripes or die!

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      • yosoyfiesta says:

        Brewer’s fan? I mean, I like beer, but I’ve got a B on my hat fish!

        We’ll toss you in A-Roid’s camp per the above analogy, which is weird because he’s suing your team, dumb ass.

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      • RJD says:

        If simply wanting to marvel at the world’s greatest athletes dominate a particular sport isn’t the basic definition of fandom then I don’t know what is. Your “average Yankee fan” comment couldn’t be more inaccurate because it took A-Rod 6 full seasons, winning 2 MVPs during that span, to finally become a “true yankee” (whatever that means) for what was only five minutes after he didn’t hit vs Tex in the 2010 ALCS. And if you were to ask Miguel Cabrera who the hall of fame first baseman was for the Tigers’ 1935 World Series team, do you think he would know? Probably not, but more importantly, who gives a shit? Is there anything sexier than witnessing Miguel Cabrera effortlessly take a pitch10 inches off the outside corner to deep right center for a HR? Not really, and that’s why we watch (watching Manny Machado pick it at 3rd all day is also pretty moving). So even though you bothered me enough to the point where I’m sitting here replying to a comment thread, I’m willing to embrace tired, moral grandstanders like yourself and ask you to join us fans who become physically aroused when the 2nd greatest player of the last 30 years (a fan of Bonds and A-Rod? how dare I), in the twilight of his career, squares up perfectly on a ball and launches it to the deepest part of Fenway Park like it was the year 2000. Here’s to 12 more A-Bombs so I can waste more time commenting when he passes Mays (oh, the humanity!).

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      • TheoK says:

        Yankee fans have no reason to feel shame.

        We root for our team to win, and we root for our players to play well like any other fans do.

        Bonds always got cheered in SF, even while the rest of the league seemed to hate his guts and want him dead.

        You stand by your own, through thick and thin, and if A-Rod ends up serving a long suspension, as seems very likely, then so be it.

        But right now he’s on MY TEAM, and we’re not out of it yet, and that’s all that matters to me.

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      • TheoK says:

        As an addendum, what A-Rod has done isn’t all that bad, and he hasn’t really hurt anybody but himself (the as-yet unsubstantiated rumors about him giving up fellow players not withstanding).

        There are players who beat their wives, drive drunk, and throw 95+ mph fastballs at fellow players heads who get no suspensions or very minor ones, and I regard all of those things as being much worse than taking HGH, which is legal for use by the general public.

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  7. dirck says:

    It seems that the Yankees are returning to their Steinbrenner/Billy Martin era WWF type manufactured controversy roots ,except A-Roid has replaced the owner as the villain. Maybe he will get a lawyer who wears a turban and a paisley sports jacket.

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  8. ic says:

    The 270/20/few steals pace projection outperforms Chase Headley in 5 of the last 6 years. Further, Headley’s HR/FB rate last year was 2x his previous career high. Although his thumb injury could be holding him back a little, it’s looking more and more that last year was his career year in his age 28 season. Headley could very well outperform A-Rod RoS, but I would brand it happening as unlikely rather than probably based on your loose A-Rod projection and Headley’s career norms.

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  9. wjylaw says:

    Hopefully Joe “Talkabunchofshit” finds something else to do with his time. Took 1 day to expose that fraud for what he is.

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  10. RobM says:

    Trying to figure out when someone took steroids, and exactly what that did for any given player, is an exercise in futility. The majority of players who have been tied to PEDs reads like a who’s who list of mediocrity or worse. The focus will be on the A-Rod’s and Manny’s and Big Papi’s and Bond’s and the Bruan’s, but the majority are scrubs.

    Your numbers sound reasonable, yet just as we can’t quite know how much steroids help an individual player, especially a baseball player (10% would be huge, yet that’s the difference between a player hitting 40 HRs instead of 36), in the case of Rodriquez, we also don’t know how the hip surgery will impact him. He could have been impacted negatively if the surgery didn’t achieve its results, yet it appears it did. Now the question is how much will it help him positively? A little? A lot? Not at all? The reports said his hip rotation had been decreasing yearly, and was down to about 14%. The surgery corrected this, which means the possibility exists he could actually drive balls more than he has in four or five years. Then we have to factor in the age question. Good luck.

    We can focus on the steroids, but it is probably the least important factor impacting his results.

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  11. Jonesy says:

    I hate to nitpick but it’s not being alleged that A-Rod got Steroids from Biogenesis. He’s alleged to have gotten HGH from Bosch.

    HGH and Steroids have completely different benefits and it’s annoying that so many in the media don’t make the distinction between the different substances. There’s no evidence that HGH has any performance benefits. Pro-athletes take HGH to speed up recovery time from injuries.

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  12. Mike says:

    It is Abdullah the Butcher….

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