Before we get into further discussion of all things Alex Rodriguez, a little tip of the cap here to the New York Sun’s sports section. Tim Marchman’s baseball coverage is quickly becoming the most linked to source around these parts that doesn’t feature news of Tom Sizemore’s legal hassles. John Hollinger’s hoops coverage is suitably illuminating, and registration/subscription is no longer required to read Allen Barra or Jay Jaffe’s contributions.
Anyhow, the knocks on Alex Rodriguez are plentiful. He’s a phony. He’s not saved enough kids and kittens from burning buildings. He’s not a “real Yankee.” His effeminate, preening mannerisms are a distraction from his gaudy numbers, etc.
The Sun’s Marchman tackles the notion that A-Rod’s stats are padded in meaningless spots, pointing out the Third Baseman’s performances against the game’s best pitchers (Santana, Halladay, El Barto, Clemens, Zito, Pedro, and Tim Hudson) compare favorably with those of Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
There is a lot of subjectivity in watching baseball and judging baseball players, and you can chop statistics a lot of ways to make different points, but I think the numbers here speak pretty plainly for themselves. And the fact that most everyone thinks the exact opposite of what the numbers reflect also speaks pretty plainly about the kind of impression these three players leave on people. Think about Giambi and you’ll think about him posing at home plate while watching a ball disappear into the upper deck; think about Jeter and you’ll think of him pumping his fist, think about Rodriguez and you’ll probably think of Bronson Arroyo’s glove.
Luckily for the Yankees, baseball games aren’t won and lost based on the impression players leave with spectators, but on what players do on the field, and especially what the best players on a team do against the toughest competition.
Though I take Marchman’s general point, when I think of Jason Giambi, I usually recall him winning the American League Comeback Player Of The Year Award without specifying what he came back from.