Friday, April 15, 2011

Gnash Your Teeth - A-Rod's Back

Many have chosen to enjoy the fact that Alex Rodriguez seemed to regress over the past few years. That he was no longer among the elite players of the league made people happy. See? The guy can't play without steroids. See? He's getting old. See? How stupid the Yankees are for paying him so much. Unfortunately for these folks, Mr. Alex Rodriguez came into Spring Training in his best shape in years thanks to finally being cleared by doctors to do full flexibility workouts years after his hip surgery. A-Rod ripped the ball all over Florida and in the early going, he's doing it in the games that count too.

If you look over at and their leader board, these are the top five right now in baseball. There's Tulowitski--another guy getting healthy now. There is Matt Kemp, who is enjoying life after Larry Bowa. Both are sitting with a 1.3 WAR. Right below them and tied with 1.0 is Joey Votto (whom you would expect), Colby Rasmus (who is having a breakout season) and Alex Rodriguez. And A-Rod leads them all in wOBA and wRC+.

Having watched A-Rod play for a long time, this does not have the feel of an early season fluke (ahem - Miguel Montero). He started like this in 2007 and he never let up. Yeah, he had more early homers in 2007, but he was just as locked in and it carried through the entire season. Watching him this early season, you can just see he knows he's going to hit the ball hard. You can sense that he feels comfortable and focused. No, he's not going to finish with a 1.400 OPS, but there is no doubt that barring injuries, he can climb his way back to his familiar 1.000 and higher.

Consider that a year ago, when everyone could see that he couldn't move vertically, he still hit 30 homers and slugged over .500. Consider that some scouts are saying that he has more freedom in his hip movement than they've ever seen from him...ever. Everyone at Yankee Stadium III knew he was going to get a big hit in the tenth inning against Baltimore yesterday. Watching him, you just knew. He might make an out, but he was going to hit the ball really hard. He did and he didn't make an out.

You may hate him, but he's back and as good as ever. His head and his place with his teammates have never been better. Barring injury, Alex Rodriguez is going to have a monster season. The Fan is greatly sorry if that is disturbing to many of you. But if you can put your prejudices aside for a few moments and watch the guy hit, what Alex Rodriguez is doing now is as pretty as it gets in baseball.

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