In 2015, Alex Rodriguez did something New York Yankees shortstop Troy Tulowitzki can draw inspiration from.
The 2014 season was inarguably the worst of Alex Rodriguez’s career. He was suspended for the entire season, had his reputation dragged through the mud by everyone in the Yankee organization, and was forced to watch Derek Jeter get praised as a hero during a season in which he barely OPS’d over .600 as the leadoff hitter for the New York Yankees.
The previous years weren’t much better.
In 2013 before being busted for PEDs (again) he missed almost the entire year with a hip injury that had greatly limited his playing time and effectiveness in the previous two seasons. He hadn’t hit as many as 20 homers in a season since 2010 (he hit 30) and hadn’t avoided missing significant time due to injury since 2007.
He was a shell of his former self getting by on reputation and the fact that even a 75 percent strength A-Rod is still pretty friggin’ good.
Then came 2015.
After a nice year-long vacation thanks to commissioner Bud Selig, Rodriguez entered the 2015 season seemingly as strong as ever.
He was a force in the middle of the Yankees lineup, hitting for power and average while playing nearly every day as the team’s primary DH. Through July, he was hitting .282 with a .386 OBP and .544 Slugging for a .930 OPS. He was on pace for 36 home runs and would have been making a serious case for Comeback Player of the Year if not for the fact that he was coming back from a PED suspension.
Pretty good for a guy who had just celebrated his 40th birthday. He had bounced back big time.
Unfortunately for him, the season went on for another two months.
A-Rod hit the wall hard in August. He stopped hitting, he stopped walking, and he stopped hitting for power. His slash line for the month of August was .200/.273/.259. Yikes. He couldn’t have reasonably been any worse.
He lowered his season line to .256/.364/.487. He was a strict DH who couldn’t hit. Not a good combo. His September (.221/.319/.462) was much better but still not great. His body wasn’t ready for a full major league season.
Like Alex Rodriguez, Troy Tulowitzki is coming back after missing an entire season. The reasons are vastly different of course. A-Rod was busted for using performance enhancers and Tulo had surgeries on both his heels but you’re still giving an aging superstar an entire year to get back to health. It may not be enough but it can’t hurt at his point in his career.
Tulowitzki appears to be in great shape at the beginning of Spring Training. He should be well rested and you figure he should be able to give the team a couple of quality months if nothing else.
The Yankees expect to get Didi Gregorius back sometime around June or July which is right around when you’d expect someone coming back from multiple heel injuries to approach his breaking point. If you asked the Yankees today, I think they’re hoping for Tulo to start for about three months.
Hit for some average, hit for some power and play a really solid shortstop. Then right around when he can’t hack it anymore Didi can step in and Tulowitzki can become a nice bench piece. It’d be a nice story and keep the good vibes flowing with this version of the Yankees.
And if Didi’s time table gets extended? Well, then the Yankees might have some serious problems at shortstop for the final few months of the season.
The Yankees can somewhat comfortably look to Alex Rodriguez as it pertains to Troy Tulowitzki.