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Alex Rodriguez, What is Love?

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Alex Rodriguez can no longer walk down the street right in the eyes of most fans, but can he be on your fantasy team? But we've seen comebacks before, and maybe we'll see one again.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Today I finished my work around 11AM.  As I thought about how my boss is flying from Albania back to New York, I realized I had time to kill and nobody to talk to in my lonely office.  So I put pen to pad and started thinking about players whom I should write about next.  I asked my friends in my league on Gchat for guidance, here were my suggestions:

  • Jurickson Profar, one owner's keeper
  • Randal Grichuk, a friend trying to lead me down a path no novice writer should go down
  • CJ Cron, it's his birthday today 1/5/2015, Happy 25th!
  • Chris Sale, same first owners keeper, pitching yuck
  • Mike McArdle, probably who I should have written about
  • Alex Rodriguez, winner

First I'll quickly tell you the tale of Mr. McArdle, as told by himself.  Mike McArdle, the #1 ranked pee-wee football player who had his dreams crushed by a chop block.  He had his whole life ahead of him, stuffed into his oversized pads and bobbling helmet.  His eyes on his prize, he darted towards the ball carrier like a lion pouncing on its prey.  Then all of a sudden darkness, muffled screams, sirens whaling. He comes back, dazed and confused, the victim of a horrible illegal block in the back.  It was a vicious and illegal blow by Kyle Vercruysse, something Kyle still prides himself on to this day.  Years later Kyle, the illegal hitter, and Mike would become friends and live happily ever after.  It's a heartwarming story, one that has literally nothing to do with Alex Rodriguez, but hopefully one day, he can redeem himself, as Kyle did, years after being the epicenter of the biggest scandal to rock the Yorktown Athletic Club.

Alex Rodriguez used to seem like a nice guy, just like Kyle.  He came up as a young strapping lad who pounded 40HRs a year with ease as a SS, while easily chipping in another 20 or so stolen bases.  Then suddenly he became known for steroids, and being a narcissistic lowlife. He kept hitting, so Yankees fan's let it slide. "hey he wasn't as bad as Bonds", we told ourselves, and he admitted he was using them and had stopped. In early 2014 he reached his lowpoint, officially found to have continued to use steroids after saying he had stopped, he was given a 162 game suspension to serve.  He only received a plebian $2,868,852.00 for no services rendered, and had to go on with his business as a regular 38 year old, borderline unemployed, man in New York City, like Kyle, but older.

This year he comes back a man with a clean slate so to speak, ready to redeem himself.  But after serving his time, can you trust Alex Rodriguez again?

First lets take a look at some of his basic ratios, and see if there is anything to like.  Over the past 3 years, he's been a shell of his former past like Kyle, but he's managed to 21% strike out rate, and a 10.6% walk rate, those are both welcome numbers in this day and age.  His plate discipline numbers also showed that he expanded the zone far less than the average hitter in 2013, and even as a smaller Arod, he was still going to have his same eye as in the past.  The last time he played enough games to qualify for the homerun and fly ball leaderboard, 2012, he was averaging 291 ft, think Yoenis Cespedes or Jonathan Lucroy in 2012, and that's where Arod was as well.  Not bad at all.  Here are his chase rates going back to 2011, when his decline began, courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net

So I think it's fair to say, even with his diminishing skills, like Kyle, he still knows what he's doing at the plate, regardless of the fact that he no longer does what he does as well.  But maybe his spray charts would show us something to be scared of.  Here are all of his hits over 2012 and 2013.

So as you can see, he grounds out a lot, but manages to spray the ball around enough to not be a huge shift victim, and another piece of good news is that he still manages to hit homeruns to all fields, taking advantage of the short right field porch in New York, proving he can still drive the ball to all fields.

Next season Steamer projects him to hit .235/.317/.382, which would be a huge drop from his 3 season average from the prior seasons .269/.356/.441 (.796 OPS).  There is a glaring issue with the 3 year average.  When you break it down into a 162 game average, he would have been putting up 99R, 26HR, 85 RBI, 13SB seasons, the problem is he has only averaged 88 games over the past 3 years...

But What can we expect that the projection systems have no noticed?  First of all, there is no attention given to talent level with projections, they are simply a breakdown of your stats, your field, your team around you, and an aging curve.  So while missing an entire season is obviously a negative thing, missing it due to injury would be far worse, than simply not being allowed to play in most circumstances.  Unfortunately, we also have to assume that for the first time perhaps since 92 or 93, Alex Rodriguez may be playing clean, this may be true of Kyle as well, dating back to his toddler years.  So while he can post all the tweets and Instagram photos he wants about working out, and getting ready for the season, his body could potentially be producing testosterone naturally for the first time in decades, something that doesn't easily or quickly come back.  So I fear Steamer may be onto something when they think a steep decline is the realest possibility. But being likely may only be what he has a 51% chance of doing.

Alex, I'll leave you on a positive note, and hope you are reading this.  Everyone in New York hates you, not only because of your huge contract, lies, and drop in production, but also because of this horrible attitude and persona you give off.  Wouldn't it be nice that after all these years of cheating, injuries, and making over $356MM, you decided that in your year off you would completely devote yourself to rehabilitation and being completely healthy for the 2015 season?  I'd like to think that he has to care about his destroyed image and wanted to win someone back in his last 3 years in NY, just like Kyle has.  Hopefully he's been hard at work, getting himself not only ready, but also becoming more resilient for the end of what has been a career full of highs and lows.  So if Mike, the victim of perhaps most dishonorable move in the history of sports, can become friends with Kyle, shouldn't New York be able to forgive Arod?

Since this is a fantasy article, every pick after #200 is more or less, a gamble.  So wouldn't a man who was previously on a first ballot HOF track be worthy of a gamble one last time?  I think so.  Remember, my friends and I gambled on longshot Kyle and won, so why can't you with Arod.