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Hot Rod
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
April 21, 2007

Forget Denzel Washington. Alex Rodriguez is “Man on Fire.” Alex has hit a whopping 12 HR in only 15 games and is hitting to the tune of .371/.431/1.048. His SLG alone is .336 points higher than the league average OPS, and his OPS+ is a mind boggling 302. And no, A-Rod is not “padding” his stats. Fans said he couldn’t hit in the clutch, so what does he do? Hits two walk off HR when the Yankees were down in both games. They said he couldn’t do it against Boston, so what does he do? Last night he mashes two home runs, knocks in 5 of the 6 Yankee runs, and scores the 6th. I can’t speak for other Yankee fans, but whenever number 13 is up, I feel secure, no matter the situation.

From the first day of spring training, A-Rod has appeared to be a different man. He immediately addressed the Jeter situation, admitting they weren’t as close as they used to be. Since getting that ugly monkey off his back, A-Rod has seemed to be a very calm and free player. A-Rod didn’t only make a mental adjustment; he made a vast physical adjustment. He lost 12 lbs, and dropped his body fat an eye-popping 10 percent in only 4 months. When asked why: A-Rod said that he didn’t feel very agile, which could have explained his poor play at third base, and why he wasn’t able to turn on fastballs like he had in the past.

Despite getting hot in the last few games of spring training, A-Rod had a poor first 7 innings of the season (yeah, ridiculous, I know). He dropped a pop fly and struck out, which lead to boos, and all of us were left thinking, "here we ago again."

However since then, A-Rod has turned those boos into bows. Alex hit a monstrous HR in the 8th inning of the opening game, and hasn’t looked bad since. On the first Saturday of the season, A-Rod hit a long HR to give the Yankees an early 2-1 lead. However, that would only be the beginning. In the bottom of the 9th inning, with two out and no on, the Yankees rallied with a base hit, a walk, and a HB. The game would be up to A-Rod, and after a feeble swing on an outside pitch that put A-Rod in a 1-2 hole, he blasted a walk off grand slam into the black seats.

Ironically enough, Thursday’s situation was similar. The Yankees were down by 4 runs, and down to their last out with no one on. After a barrage of hits, and a wild pitch, Alex blasted yet another walk off bomb. Everyone in the world of baseball, A-Rod included, was in awe, and every Yankee was in heaven.

On a side note, many believe A-Rod’s grand slam was the first sign of A-Rod’s resurrection. I don’t believe so. Last Thursday, in a loss to the Twins was when I saw the first sign Alex’s revival. A-Rod, who was down 0-2, absolutely ripped a 95 mph fastball from Joe Nathan that was shoulder high. Last year, A-Rod would have been blown away, but this is a new year, and a more importantly, a new Alex Rodriguez.

Projections
Can A-Rod break Bonds’ HR record of 73 set back in ’01? I highly doubt it. I must admit that I thought he would have cooled down a few days ago, yet he has just kept hitting. But there is no way he continues to keep this up. Right now, he is on pace to hit 130 HR, 65 doubles, 247 hits, and 76 walks. Obviously, there is no way in hell he hits 130 HR, but he may very well break the HR record for April, which is 14. Is 74 HR possible? Yes, but it is very, very unlikely.

Also, how can we talk about Alex with out mentioning the postseason? Will this be the year that A-Rod finally breaks through with that walk off HR we’ve all been waiting for? And more importantly, will he get that ring? Time will only tell, but if A-Rod can keep his current mindset, even when he finally cools off, there should be no doubt that he will perform in the postseason.

Projection- .325/.430/.685 58 HR


Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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