I hate Alex Rodriguez. Most people do. You can’t lie about taking PEDs for as long as he did and expect to be loved. The last decade of Rodriguez’s career has been permanently marred by his continued denial that he took steroids, only for us to later find out that he lied and was still juicing. After his historic suspension, which was 162 games and the longest non-lifetime ban ever, it was imperative for Rodriguez to come into the season firing on all cylinders. That’s exactly what he did.
Rodriguez is having his best season since 2008. The 40 year old has already hit 31 home runs, including three in one game against Minnesota earlier this year. The homers weren’t cheap Yankee Stadium-short-porch homers either. Each one travelled at least 420 feet, the longest of which went 450 feet. This type of behavior has become almost daily for the grizzled veteran, who is rapidly approaching 700 career bombs. Normally a player’s’ bat speed slows down by the time they hit 40, but Rodriguez’s has seemingly gotten faster.
The remarkable part is how consistent he has been this season. This is a case where his batting average, .255, just doesn’t tell enough of the story. He’s accumulated about 120 hits and 20 doubles, and has a slugging percentage of .500, which puts him in the top 25 in the league in that category.
His plate discipline is a big part of what has allowed him to be so successful thus far. He has walked more times this year, 71, than in any season, in which he has participated over the past five years. These are fantastic numbers for most top tier players, let alone a declining 40 year old who didn’t play for an entire season.
But what does all of this mean? Many would argue that he’s having an underwhelming season in the context of his whole career, or that none of this really matters because the Yankees won’t make the playoffs anyway, but I disagree. I think Rodriguez’s season is absolutely incredible, and has earned himself the Comeback Player of the Year Award. After spending the 2011-2013 seasons looking like a decrepit, old man, and 2014 on the couch, Rodriguez has certainly had a season to remember.
I hate Alex Rodriguez. He’s a liar and a cheater who should never even sniff the Hall of Fame. He has thousands of detractors all over the country and still gets booed in many places.
We, as fans, should never allow this man’s legacy to be one remembered in a positive light. But maybe I’ll make an exception for this season.
Maybe Rodriguez has gained my respect, if only for this year. He has handled himself with class and dignity in a tough situation (albeit self-imposed), and has still managed a great statistical year. We can hate Alex Rodriguez later, because for one shining, comeback year, we can respect him again.