When New York Yankees’ DH Alex Rodriguez returned from injury, many questioned how the lineup would produce upon his return.
Up until A-Rod landed on the disabled list after straining his hamstring against the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees were averaging an insignificant 3.9 runs per game and owned a record of 7-13 when the slugger was penciled in the lineup.
Overall, Rodriguez’s slash line is .188/.261/.450 with an OPS of .711 which would be his lowest total OPS since his sophomore season back in 1996.
Once the soon-to-be 41-year old slugger hit the DL, something clicked for the offense that finished dead last in scoring in the month of April.
The unit has averaged 4.5 runs per game and was 14-7 since A-Rod hit the disabled list and owned the most victories throughout major league baseball with 13 wins from May 6-24.
When A-Rod hit the shelf Carlos Beltran was the man who implemented the bulk of the offensive production, much like Rodriguez’s 33 home runs did in 2015 for the Yankees.
As the DH this year, Beltran was 21-for-72 (.291) with six home runs with 20 RBI highlighted by an increase in overall slash line from .261/.278/.435 to .268/.294/.516.
This season, Beltran is slashing .322/.344/.780 with a 1.123 while DH’ing this year compared to his .236 batting average and his 25% strikeout rate when in right field.
Overall, New York is 9-17 with the three-time American League MVP and 14-7 without him and in Thursday night’s loss in which he went 0-4 in this return which caused his average to plunge down to .184.
Their team’s on-base percentage has increased by ten points from the month of May compared to April and prior to A-Rod’s return, they had scored 15 more runs this month despite hitting four fewer home runs.
With these numbers at our disposal, many wondered exactly how the Yankees’ offense would be affected once Rodriguez returned to it. Would his presence be felt? Seems as though his return will hurt, do you bench him? We’re finally winning, why fix what’s not broken?
When Beltran returned to his spot in right field on the same night Rodriguez was reinstated from the disabled list, he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts to complete the lovely sombrero. A-Rod was in a similar boat as he went 0-for-4 with two K’s.
“I’m sure it had to do with him being in right field,” manager Joe Girardi told ESPN. “He was 0-for-4 yesterday. Let’s not keep stirring this and stirring this and everything we over-evaluate. Carlos had a rough day. A lot of our right-handers had a rough day. Alex is going to DH.”
So there you go. The Yankees’ manager doesn’t think of this as a problematic situation. Why? Because having Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran in the starting lineup does nothing to hinder its abilities, which was something we got a prime example of during New York’s 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
In the top of the sixth inning in St. Petersburg, A-Rod sent one over the left field wall to make a 1-0 lead quickly turn into a 3-0 lead. The 440-foot two-run jack that left with an exit velocity of 107.9 MPH was his fourth home run in his last seven games played.
Two innings later, Beltran hit a line drive that made its way out of Tropicana Field in a hurry for his 11th home run of the year off and his 11th RBI since May 19.
With both veterans connecting on home runs last night, it was the first time in New York Yankees’ history that two players who are 39-years old or older launched home runs in the same contest.
So, no, Beltran will not become the DH while Rodriguez takes a seat on the bench. It’s borderline laughable scenario and will never happen despite the fact that Beltran has the least defensive runs saved since the start of last year.
This Yankees’ offense is not at its maximum potential when A-Rod is on the bench and Beltran is in the lineup as the DH but is a significant threat when both Rodriguez and Beltran are hitting properly in the middle of the lineup.
Rodriguez’s OPS when facing southpaws in 2015 was .926 good for 14th best in the American League and has launched four home runs in the past ten games played so to think this guy mixed in with Beltran’s consistency won’t help is a foolish thought.
Also, don’t forget, Aaron Hicks will return to his normal fourth outfielder role where he will get the starting nod against left-handers. Certainly a position he’s more comfortable in as his OPS against them in 2015 was .870.
Make no mistake, though, in a span of a 162-game season the most important thing for the Yankees is to have both of their aging veterans healthy and doing what they did last night into the dog days.
Girardi has gone out to say they will both see time at DH which keeps them both sharp and provides them the opportunity to be prolific enough to propel the Yankees back into postseason play.
However, despite popular belief, there is no DH predicament. The New York Yankees are a much scarier club with both of their aging superstars in there compared to having Beltran DH and Hicks or the Dustin Ackley (who’s batting .154) as the right fielder with A-Rod riding the pine.