Alex Rodriguez’ Remarkable Comeback
We are now a little over 50 games into the 2015 season, and it’s safe to say that Alex Rodriguez has lost nothing in terms of his ability to compete by sitting out the entire 2014 season. In fact, the rest seems to have done him good — he’s having his best season at the plate since at least 2010.
I am shocked by the extent of his comeback. I doubt there is any other example of a player missing an entire season after the age of 30 and coming back and having his best season in years. I, for one, have written that I believed the money the Yankees saved on ARod’s 2014 suspension would be paid back with interest by his reduced performance returning at age 39 with three years and $61 million remaining on his contract. That certainly hasn’t been the case so far.
I guess we have to chalk some of it up to what an exceptional baseball talent ARod is, steroids or no. That said, I think one of two possibilities has to be true based on his performance this season.
The first possibility is that ARod is still using steroids. That’s certainly a very real possibility since we have at least some evidence to suggest that Rodriguez played juiced for most of his major league career before the suspension.
The other possibility is that ARod is clean this season, and the ‘roids he got from Biogenesis America really didn’t help him much at all.
Don’t get me wrong — I think that in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, when players could take all the PEDs they wanted and the sluggers got ridiculously huge, the PEDs enhanced performance significantly, including ARod’s performance.
However, once the testing regime came in and players had to carefully limit how much they took and when they took it to avoid positive tests, the ‘roids may have had only a very limited effect. Again, Rodriguez never actually failed a drug test, and you can be pretty sure MLB found a way to go back and test his samples again when the powers that be became convinced he was using again. If he’d been taking large doses, he’d have tested positive at least once.
If the PEDs he was actually taking didn’t really improve his performance, and the numbers in recent seasons are what they are, then the ‘roids were nothing but a kind of security blanket for a very insecure man who didn’t trust in his own talent, despite being the greatest talent of his generation.
Another factor in ARod’s surprising 2015 performance is the fact that we can be certain he trained very hard during his year off so he’d be able to return. ARod certainly has that kind of single-minded focus on his own performance that most of the truly great players have. He’s also a guy who knows that so long as he performs on the field, he can get away with an awful lot as he always has.
I also don’t have any doubt that Yankees fans are cheering for Rodriguez again since he’s performing at a high level and helping the Bombers win games. As long as he does that, Yankees fans will continue to cheer him.
I can’t claim any moral high ground here, because I certainly cheered Barry Bonds when he was juiced to beat the band and hitting like Babe Ruth‘s big brother. Bonds put on a show from 2001 through 2004 that I doubt will ever be seen again, and that has only been matched in MLB history by Babe Ruth in the 1920’s when he was leading his league with more than twice as many home runs as any other player in either league.