The fantasy baseball value of Alex Rodriguez has certainly changed a lot over the last few seasons. At one point in his career, A-Rod was as elite as there was in the fantasy game, as a Triple Crown threat in a good lineup who could still nab between 15-25 steals a year, from the third base position, no less. Obviously those days are done, but it doesn’t stop there.
He’s missed a lot of time over the last few years, but has still generally been productive when on the field, so the fantasy value was still pretty good. Now, I am looking at you telling you that I wouldn’t draft A-Rod at any point. I would leave him to your league rivals and if none of them take the bait, let the waiver wire keep him.
This is of course triggered by the news (per Bryan Hoch, MLB.com) that A-Rod has undergone hip surgery and is expected to be out until June. Obviously, you’re not going to use a high draft pick on a guy who won’t play for the first few months.
But in every league I played in last year, Ryan Howard was drafted. Granted, I’m in some pretty deep leagues, but the logic is similar. Use a DL spot for a few months and then get some good production for the second part of the season. The logic isn’t terrible, as Howard belted 14 homers in only 71 games. If he had played all year and grabbed 550 at-bats at that pace, we’d be looking at about 30 homers. So, why can’t be expect that from A-Rod? Well, there are also some glaring differences, which we must look at.
Howard entered the 2012 season at 33 years old, while A-Rod will enter 2013 at 37 and will turn 38 in July. That kind of age gap may not seem like much in your day-to-day life but in baseball, the difference between early-mid 30′s and late 30′s is immense.
Howard had some injuries, but between his first full MLB season in 2006 and through 2011, he only failed to play 150 games twice, and even those weren’t bad (144 in 2007, 143 in 2010). A-Rod on the other hand hasn’t played in more than 140 games since his last MVP season of 2007.
Also, while Howard’s injury was bad, it was more of a freak thing and not a real sign that he’s injury prone. Rodriguez has dealt with a myriad of injuries since 2008 and this one is no different.
What happened the last time ARod had hip surgery and started the season on the DL? Oh yeah, he dominated and we won the WS!
That’s true. A-Rod had a hip surgery in 2009 and came back to play an integral role in a World Series Championship. But let’s really take a look at that though and see how similar this situation is.
First, Teixeira is writing from a real baseball perspective while this site deals with fantasy. Rodriguez’s fantasy value has declined recently largely because his batting average has struggled. He hit .302 in 2008, .286 in 2009, .270 in 2010, .276 in 2011, and .272 in 2012. That hasn’t shown up has much for the Yankees because he still maintained a high OBP, but OBP isn’t counted in most fantasy leagues.
Also, again, I’ll point out the age. Rodriguez turned 34 in 2009. Naturally, he’ll turn 38 in 2013. That’s a significant difference in production.
While we’re at it, the talent around A-Rod isn’t the same. Obviously Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera aren’t there anymore, while Nick Swisher likely won’t be. But let’s look at the guys are, as well as a few new ones.
- Teixeira is nowhere near the overall offensive player that he was in 2009. He still produces good power numbers, but hasn’t cracked.260 since his .292 average in 2009. His OBP is still good, but moving in the wrong direction.
- Derek Jeter has maintained good to phenomenal numbers, but he’ll turn 39 in 2013 and is coming off of a serious injury suffered in the playoffs.
- Curtis Granderson is a strong power hitter, but also frequently bats in front of A-Rod. Also, he’s a .262 career hitter and has only even reached that number once over the last four years. In 2012, he had a career low .232 batting average with a fairly bland .319 OBP. He’ll be 32 on Opening Day.
Robinson Cano is still about as good as they come, so he doesn’t concern me, but the rest all have serious question marks. A-Rod wasn’t the only problem for the Yankees in the playoffs; the team just looked very old. I know that’s a small sample size and Detroit has some good pitching, but I don’t particularly trust the talent around A-Rod in the lineup to help make him a valuable fantasy player. That is something that has really changed recently.
There’s something else that hurts A-Rod’s fantasy value. I can’t claim to be the first person to point this out, as Clave talked about this same issue before 2012 started, but third base is nowhere near the thin position that it has been in the past. In 2012, 16 guys with third base eligibility hit 20 home runs, while nine hit 25 homers. Granted, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista aren’t going to keep eligibility there, but that list also doesn’t include Evan Longoria, who missed a lot of 2012. Todd Frazier also hit 19 in limited at-bats, while Will Middlebrooks hit 15 in limited time. I’m also personally expecting a strong 2013 from Brett Lawrie.
The point is that there are plenty of third basemen who can provide plenty of production. Zach Rymer at Bleacher Report knows more about baseball than just about anyone I know, and he suspects that the end of A-Rod’s career is not far away.
That may or may not be the case. Rodriguez will certainly be moving to DH when he gets back to action and that may prolong his career a bit. But the days of A-Rod bringing any value to your fantasy baseball team are now officially in the rear view mirror.