By Scott Barzilla

One of the humorous things from every October is seeing which fan base is going to freak out most about their star player not performing. This time around it has been the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez. Then again, nearly every post season it is the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez. Never has any player been under more scrutiny than Alex Rodriguez and as his career nears two decades, he will likely go down as a disappointment despite likely eclipsing 700 career home runs. You talk about some perspective.

Derek Jeter is obviously the other side of the coin. He has been called Mr. November because he was the first player in baseball history to hit a home run in November. The Yankee captain is considered to be Mr. Clutch after being a part of every New York Yankee World Series championship since 1996. However, when you compare their post season numbers it makes you wonder whether perception and reality really meet.

  • Alex Rodriguez
  • PA: 309
  • AVG/OBP/SLG: .271/.380/.484
  • HR/R/RBI: 13/43/41
  • SO/BB: 68/38
  • Derek Jeter
  • PA: 714
  • AVG/OBP/SLG: .309/.374/.465
  • HR/R/RBI: 20/109/60
  • SO/BB: 127/64
Let’s ignore for the time being that Derek Jeter has 400 more plate appearances than Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs. In terms of rate production, Arod is getting on base more often than Jeter and he is slugging more than Jeter in the playoffs. If we roughly double Arod’s numbers then we still trail Jeter by 100 plate appearances, but he would have six more home runs and 21 more RBIs.
Often what we find is that fans tend to focus on when number are accumulated instead of the numbers themselves. Arod was performing so poorly this post season that they pinch hit Raul Ibanez for him in Game 3 in order to get the game into extra innings. Meanwhile, Jeter continues to get on base. This ignores that Arod was lost for much of the season anyway as he has aged less gracelessly.
In essence, that is what happens with teams like the Yankees. They are embroiled in a huge five game battle with the Orioles. The Orioles are on the other end of the spectrum and you need only look so far as Manny Machado. Machado hit a home run in Game Three even though he is at the tender age of twenty. Arod used to be one of those guys way back in 1994 for the Seattle Mariners.
That more than anything explains it all. We all remember Alex Rodriguez as the young superstar. He was also the youngest to do this and the youngest to do that. Even more than Derek Jeter, it is difficult for all of us to accept his fallibility. Babe Ruth was a Boston Brave at the end. Willie Mays was a New York Met at the end. Christy Mathewson was a Cincinnati Red. All of those players were great for such a long time that it was impossible for even them to admit that baseball had passed them by.
The aging process is cruel by its very nature. Things we were able to do even last year are seemingly impossible now. Mariano Rivera seemed ageless until he went down early in the season. Andy Pettitte seemingly showed himself to be ageless, but he got beat in his first postseason start by someone that had never pitched in the postseason before. Even Jeter had to be removed in Game 3 because he was hobbling. Age happens to all of us.

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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