The 2009 Cheatsheet Compiler is out and it looks better than ever. Make sure you get your FREE copy before you draft. [Editor’s Note: Draft Buddy coming soon.]
There are several players whose numbers will look a little unusual for their typical performances. I will address them over the next few weeks. If I fail to address one that you are curious about, shoot me an email.
There’s no better place to start than A-Roid, er… I mean A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez is regularly finding himself in one controversy or another. For every unflattering nickname he’s been called (Stray-Rod, Pay-Rod, A-Fraud, etc.) there’s a controversy behind it. You’d think that this guy would either figure out how to handle the pressure of the spotlight or how to stay out of it. But he hasn’t and yet another has caught up with him. The steroid scandal of the early part of this decade enveloped Rodriguez and he has even admitted to taking a banned substance for a three year period. Whether you believe that he only took one banned substance or that he quit in 2003 is not the issue, the issue is that he plays in New York City and the spotlight tends to be a lot brighter there than anywhere else.
New York fans have never really accepted him as a true Yankee. Derek Jeter is the favorite son and he has never publicly given A-Rod his stamp of approval. Until he does so, the New York faithful won’t really consider him a true pinstriper. Yankees fans have been as hard on A-Rod as they have been on just about everyone not named Jeter, Mattingly or Mantle who has played in the Bronx over the years. But since New Yorkers love a good scandal, A-Rod is a particularly good target for their venom.
Rodriguez has averaged .302/41HR/127RBI/19SB over the last three years, which included his monster 2007 season. But he wasn’t facing anything like he’s going to be subjected to like the steroid issue that will dog him all of the 2009 season. For 81 games, New Yorkers will be there to pounce if he is not earning his $32MM. He gets to play nine games in Boston, where the rival team’s fans won’t go easy, either. There are also three “away” games against the Mets, where the fans from Queens will share some quality time with Rodriguez. The other 69 road games will also be filled with tauntings and harassment, none of which Rodriguez has taken well over the years. He is rather thin-skinned and seems to wilt under the pressure of fans.
This doesn’t mean that Rodriguez will turn in a .240/10/40/5 line, but his numbers will suffer, especially since his contract is guaranteed for eight more years after this one.
As for your fantasy team, third base is a rather thin position right now once you get past David Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, and Rodriguez, so I wouldn’t cross him off your list altogether. But reduce your expectations a bit and don’t make him the first 3B off the board. Look for Wright to take another step up and assert himself as the best hitting 3B in baseball, giving you a better choice for an early first round pick.
If Rodriguez can get off to a fast start, the New York faithful might show him a little mercy this season, otherwise, it will be a long season for A-Rod. I might be sitting on island doing so, but I’m predicting the latter.