Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

The Truth About A-Rod in the Postseason

Posted on October 13, 2009 by Don Spieles
Yankees Rodriguez homers during game 3 of the ALDS in Minneapolis

Alex Rodriguez has not been as bad in postseason play as the media want you to believe.

Whether you’re a Yankee fan, baseball fan, or even if you’re just a gal who thinks that he looks good in a uniform, you have probably heard that Alex Rodriguez is lousy in the playoffs. It has been the mantra for media members whenever they talk about his playing prowess.  “Is he great? Yeah, but look how he plays in the postseason!”

In the recent ALDS against Minnesota, A-Rod managed to get some hits, including a game tying home run in game two.  With the newest headlines telling us that he may finally be coming around where October play is concerned, it’s about time that we really looked at it – in a historical perspective.

Of all the great Yankees, Mickey Mantle ranks at the top of many lists for the ultimate Yankee offensive threat.  He didn’t hit as many jacks as Ruth, but his speed, switch-hitting, and postseason experience matters more, at least in this conversation.  Reggie Jackson, who had a relatively short career with New York, carries the name “Mr. October” so who better to compare with the highest paid player in baseball history.

So, when you hold the numbers of these two legends up against the beleaguered current third-baseman from the Bronx Bombers, how do they look?

First, both Jackson and Mantle played in more post season games than A-Rod, at least so far.  So their stats need to be modified to look at the same number of games (42) as Rodriguez.  With that bit of normalization accomplished we find some surprising comparisons.

How Will A-Rod End Up In The 2009 Postseason?

  • World Series Flop (40%, 2 Votes)
  • Plays Well, but Yanks lose in ALCS (40%, 2 Votes)
  • It doesn't matter cause he's getting a ring (20%, 1 Votes)
  • World Series Hero (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Stinks Against The Angels (0%, 0 Votes)
  • I'm tired of hearing about A-Rod (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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In an era when the only postseason series was the World Series, Mickey Mantle hit 14 home runs in his first 42 World Series games.

In an era when the only postseason series was the World Series, Mickey Mantle hit 14 home runs in his first 42 postseason games.

A-Rod leads the pack in hits, with 46, to Mantle’s 41 and Jackson’s 40, though it should be noted that he has about seven more at-bats.  A-Rod has more doubles then both of the legends.  Mantle hit 14 home runs in his first 42 postseason games; A-Rod only has nine to his credit.  That does put him ahead of Jackson, who at the same point had chalked up seven postseason jacks.  After his 43rd postseason game (game 6 of the ’77 World Series) Jackson would have 10 because of his historic three home run game against the Dodgers.

Rodriguez has the highest average of the three (.293), though he trails both in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Up to this point, the numbers have been pretty kind to A-Rod.  He compares pretty well to the legends in most areas and in the areas where he trails it is still very respectable.   But where his numbers fall off the table is in ultimate results.  Mantle’s teams in that stretch won five World Series and Jackson was a part of three World Series teams in his first 42 playoff games.

Not only has A-Rod not been on a World Series winner, he’s yet to play in a single World Series game! Obviously, there are many, many factors that have provided disappointment that A-Rod feels where the big dance is concerned, but it is what it is.  What it is happens to be solely another bullet in the arsenal for A-Rod haters.

As it stands, for those of us based in reality, that is, Alex Rodriguez is not that huge postseason disappointment that so many in the media – and so many Yankee-Haters – make him out to be.  On the contrary, only the World Series that he’s yet to win mars A-rod’s postseason stats, and that hurdle could certainly be cleared this month.

Don Spieles covers Major League Baseball for Sports Then and Now.

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