With New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez expected to be activated off the DL today, the question comes up as to how he will blend into the mix.
Alex Rodriguez and his 692 career home runs will return to the New York Yankees lineup today for the first time in 23 days. After a brief two-game rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder, New York’s AA affiliate, in which he went 3-6 with a homer and 3 RBIs, he is ready for a return to the big league stage.
With that being said, how does his .195/.275/.444 slash fit in with an already hot ball club and a lineup that has found new life?
The fact of the matter is that he does fit in but only fits in partially.
It goes without saying that the main beneficiary of A-Rod’s absence has been Carlos Beltran, who has driven in 20 runs, crushed six out of his ten homers, and has an OPS just north of .920 during that span. The majority of that production has come out of the DH role, a role that is generally completely occupied by Rodriguez.
Upon Rodriguez’s return, Beltran is expected to be forced into an everyday right field role where he has only hit .245 with nine RBIs in 27 games this year. On the contrary, Beltran has hit .345 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 14 games at DH.
A-Rod stated prior to getting hurt that the Yankees should be scoring five runs a night. Throughout the Yankees last seven games, they are averaging 5.1 runs per game. Carlos Beltran has been their hottest hitter in that stretch that has seen the club go 6-1.
Why fix a hot offense that certainly has not broke, mess with your hottest hitter, and possibly put a hot stretch in the ruins by tossing Rodriguez the everyday DH role right off the bat?
If the Yankees intend to treat A-Rod like any other player on their 25-man roster, they should take into account that he had largely underperformed and was only picking things up a few games prior to his hamstring debacle. There is a solution for them to consider:
Platoon the DH role.
In platooning that spot, Beltran will cut his time in right field in half and Rodriguez will need to work his way into everyday at-bats. In doing this, the lineup will not be messed with by having a sudden presence clogging the middle that may not truly be ready.
Joe Girardi can DH Rodriguez against left-handers and Beltran against right-handers. It works for everyone involved. A-Rod has been overpowered by right-handers, slashing .143/.217/.286 with only four RBIs in 17 games. In five fewer games against southpaws, he has dazzled with a .267/.353/.667 slash along with three homers and eight RBIs.
In Beltran’s case, he has hit 20 points higher, has six more home runs, and has driven in 13 more runs when batting left-handed (facing righties). In addition, his OPS is nearly 200 points higher when turned around to his powerful side.
The main catch here is A-Rod playing limited time as Beltran’s at-bats would not be altered. It comes down to his will to win.
Rodriguez, who will turn 41 on July 27, may not have much more chances to win. This is a key decision he may have to make. Sometimes it takes a player to go to a manager and say that they want what is best for the team.
Joe Girardi may very well run A-Rod out there every day unless an alternative action is indirectly suggested from A-Rod himself.
The Yanks relied heavily on Rodriguez’s 33 home run, 86 RBI output last year, but they have proven this year that they can find unique ways to win. The way their lineup is constructed is distinctive and dynamic, making A-Rod an asset if utilized correctly.
For example, the Yankees head to the bottom of the ninth trailing by one on a day where Rodriguez did not start. Soft hitting Didi Gregorius is due up. A-Rod steps out into the on-deck circle. The extra fear instilled in opponents and valuable presence with pop will be a weapon few teams have.
That correct utilization will come through a platoon whether it is the glamorous move or not.