On Opening Day, 2007, Alex Rodriguez dropped a pop-up in foul territory and was booed heartily. Some fans were thinking, oh no not again. Other fans like me were in the minority and prepared to fight in his defense against the many naysayers and were worried he`d be booed into opting out. Fortunately, the batter was later retired and Alex later hit a home run in that game in a Yankees win.
He then went on to have a historic April with two walk-off HR's and prevented the team from falling to far out of contention. While he didn't repeat his April he had an overall excellent season and arguably the best ever by a third baseman. He had a solid (but sadly brief) postseason. He made statements about loving New York and looked like a lock to win the MVP and to sign an extension.
Then everything fell apart. In game four of the World Series with the Red Sox about to win the World Series it was reported that Alex was going to opt out. Hank Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman made statements about the door being closed now because of the loss of money from Texas and his not appreciating being a Yankee. It looked like he going to sign elsewhere maybe even with Boston. The emotions of Yankees fans ranged from jubilance, to panic, to dissapoint and disgust. Mike Lowell, Miguel Cabrera, and even Joe Crede or Wilson Betemit were mentioned as possible solutions to the problem.
Then Alex turned around. For whatever reason he came back to the Yankees and asked to talk to them against the wishes of Scott Boras. He made a post on his website about wanting to go back to the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner said Alex had made it clear that he wanted to be a Yankee. A 10 year, 275 million dollar deal seems eminent now for Alex. While some Yankees fans are disgusted that he`s coming back I believe most are just grateful the best player in baseball will be playing for them next year. Whatever your feelings about them are, he`s back with "unfinished buisness."
He had a historically great year last year with an unbelievable .354 EQA while playing above average third base defense. He hit 54 home runs, an unheard of total for a righthanded player who spends half his year in Yankees Stadium, smashing the old record of 48. This all added up to a 13.7 WARP3.
He won't replicate that next year but 2006 isn't his real talent level. In two of the past three years he`s had MVP years. Their is an explanation for his improvement over 2006 as well. He lost weight over the off-season and worked on a lower leg kick for his batting stance. The result of this was an increase in confidence and a decrease in SO's. He had his lowest SO total since 1999 and his lowest SO% since 2002. He worked on just putting the ball in play and not trying to hard and despite having a lower LD% and a lower BABIP he had a higher BA than 2006.
Also important was the fact that he worried less about pressure and put less on himself. He was open in Spring Training about the retarded Jeter thing and ended it. He made all other controversies go away with a quick no comment as well. He looked happier playing the game as well. He was a mentor to Cabrera and Cano and seemed to be good friends with them. He stopped worrying about being "the guy" and as a result became "the guy." Ironic isn't it?
These changes should remain for 2008 for Alex unless the Yanks do something stupid and trade away Cano and/or Cabrera. Hopefully, he`ll be able to somewhat replicate his 2007 season. He`ll decline but not all the way to 2006 numbers. Keep in mind this projection is just a ballpark figure made knowing generally how WARP3 is scaled but without knowing the actual formula for WARP3 or using an actual projection system.
2007 WARP3- 13.7
Projected 2008 WARP3- 11.5
Win Change- 2.2