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Alex Rodriguez's descent into fantasy baseball purgatory

By Nicholas Minnix

It's an easy take: Alex Rodriguez's 2013 campaign is already off to a poor start, so he won't be worth the paper you didn't waste this spring to print your third base rankings.

When A-Rod had surgery on his right hip in March 2009, he returned to action about two months after the procedure, a little more than five weeks into the campaign.

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez
Rodriguez: little to look forward to?

He hit for quite a bit of power right away, but his first month and a half of action still yielded a disappointing batting average: .210/.369/.441 in 179 plate appearances. From that point forward, he was outstanding, thankfully: .322/.419/.575 in 356 plate appearances.

After Rodriguez had knee surgery on his knee in July 2011, he returned toward the end of August and finished the regular season on a sour note: .191/.345/.353 in 84 plate appearances.

This past July, the New York Yankees' well-compensated third-sacker had surgery to repair a non-displaced fracture in his left hand. He was back in the lineup at the beginning of September, but fantasy owners might've preferred that he remained on the DL: .261/.341/.369 in 129 plate appearances.

The interesting question: What kind of hitter will A-Rod be after the All-Star break?

Before 2008, he hadn't missed significant time in almost a decade. In 2009, he eventually settled in and hammered for the rest of the year. But, as was ardently documented in the Twittersphere while it occurred, he failed to collect himself in either of the last two postseasons. Joe Girardi benched him for half of the ALCS.

The upcoming procedure, on his left hip, is "similar, but not identical" to the one he had in 2009. This one must be more invasive. He's also going to be nearly four years older when he goes under the knife this time.

But the effects of the hip procedure may not be a major concern. The big problems: (1) He'll turn 38 in July, not long after he'll back to business, assuming no setbacks, and (2) he struggled to control the strike zone in his last three seasons, especially during periods after a lengthy absence, during which he also suffered through droughts of power.

The prospect of a healthy Rodriguez will be worth a modest price in AL leagues and perhaps a few bucks in mixed leagues that offer unlimited DL space. In leagues with MLB universes that provide little room to stash players, he faces the likelihood - for the first time in his career - of going undrafted. Or, at least, he should.


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