New York Yankees

Ever since the New York Yankees lost Alex Rodriguez to a hamstring injury, the offense has not necessarily missed the 40-year old designated hitter.  

Once upon a time, the New York Yankees offense could not survive without the three-time American League MVP, Alex Rodriguez. This is not a fairy tail, though, and the Bombers offense is striving without an integral part of their 2015 playoff run.

A year ago, he shut down the haters that questioned his ability to perform at 39-years old and a year off of baseball with a .250 batting average, .356 on-base percentage and .486 slugging percentage and led the team in home runs. His numbers might have actually been much greater if it weren’t for an end-of-season depression in production where he slashed .191/.300/.377 in September and October.

No one knew if he would be able to reignite his career, make a difference in the lineup, or even make a roster spot. No one predicted that he’d hit the ball out of the infield, or be able to run 90 feet, or what a return from a year-long absence could turn a potential Hall of Famer into.

Thankfully, he proved to the baseball world he can still produce while being a humble leader his team needed.

While the common folk thought he could do it again here in 2016, it has been the complete inverse of what last year’s version of A-Rod brought to the table.

So far in 2016, Rodriguez owns a .194 batting average, .217 on base percentage, and a .286 slugging percentage with an OPS of .503. His career low in terms of OPS is .672 from back in 1995.

Yes, in his last seven games leading up to his hamstring strain he maintained a .304/.333/.826 slash line with three home runs and seven RBI, but the team’s production with him in the lineup was absolutely porous.

Up until Rodriguez hit the disabled list, the Yankees were averaging a mere 3.9 runs per game and owned a record of 7-13 when the slugger was penciled in the lineup. But don’t let those seven wins convince you that he had something to do with them because he owns a batting average of .000 when the Yankees own a lead, according to baseball reference.

Yes, you read that correctly. Zero.

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Now the team has averaged 4.5 runs per game and are 13-7 since A-Rod hit the disabled list while owning the most wins throughout major league baseball with 12 wins since May 6.

When Rodriguez left the ballgame against the Baltimore Orioles on May 4 the Yankees were in the cellar of the American League East. Now, they have climbed from the depths of despair and are tied for third while sitting only one game under .500.

In his absence, Carlos Beltran has filled the designated hitter opening with absolute supremacy.

Sine A-Rod’s injury, Beltran is 20-for-69 (.290) with five home runs with 18 RBI featuring an increase in overall slash line from .261/.278/.435 to .268/.294/.516 with an OPS of .811.

Beltran is hitting .455 with five doubles, a home run, and eight RBI during this recent five-game winning streak. In this weekend’s sweep of the Oakland Athletics, Beltran went 9-for-18 (.500) with five doubles.

To supplement to his recent eruption, the 39-year old has sustained a .333/.346/.814 slash line simultaneously with a 1.159 OPS in 48 at-bats as a DH compared to his .245/.278/.392 slash line as the team’s right fielder.

Not only are his numbers better as the DH, but it allows New York to stick a greater defender, Aaron Hicks, in right field making the team an above average defensive team to correspond with its solid offensive performances.

Speaking of Hicks, his numbers have been laborious to ignore once a temporary starting right field position presented itself him. Since May 5, his batting average has soared from .091 to .207 while going 15-for-50 (.300).

All of these numbers are at manager Joe Girardi’s disposal, yet he is still sticking with Rodriguez as the everyday designated hitter when he returns on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Of course, the man makes $21-million dollars this season and will by no means ride the pine, nor are the Yankees’ a better team without the slugger, but it’s interesting to see how production has increased.

Fascinating enough that the man himself even joked about the circumstance.

“I thought someone was going to kick me in the hamstring to make sure I stay down for another week,” A-Rod told NJ Media.  “No … I loved seeing the way the guys have been swinging the bats.”

So what does this surplus in production mean for the Yankees? Surely it doesn’t mean that they are a better team because Rodriguez’s veteran presence along with his three home runs in his last 17 at-bats before getting hurt goes a long way.

That being said, his OPS against lefties in 2015 was .926 good for 14th best in the American League. Despite that, what the lineup has proven in this recent stretch that there is more to just clubbing home runs.

Their team’s on-base percentage has increased by ten points from the month of May compared to April and have already scored 15 more runs this month despite hitting four fewer home runs.

So maybe the point Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal made was right: Alex Rodriguez hinders the flexibility of the lineup. He is unable to bunt, kicking into a second gear without tearing a hamstring, or producing like he used to.

We’ve seen the Yankees steal bases, put down bunts, and come through with timely hitting that doesn’t necessarily mean a home run was hit. That’s something we just don’t perceive with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.

Again, the Yankees will stick him in there on Tuesday night barring any setbacks with the belief that the man who helped carry the offense a year ago will make this hot lineup even better.

Off days will occur but, for the most part, this lineup that has outscored opponents 26-11 during the team’s winning streak will only be seen at least once a week raising the question: if it’s not broken, why fix it?

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