After coming off of hip surgery in 2009, many of us wondered what would happen to Alex Rodriguez in regards to defense. We knew that, eventually, his hitting would come around, but we weren’t quite sure about his fielding.
The early returns at the hot corner were not encouraging. Alex looked, as expected, pretty bad at third, despite his hot hitting. As the season went on, though, Rodriguez started to improve. The farther away from the surgery Alex got, the more movement he had. Another positive was his always strong arm; it definitely helped him make up for his lack of range. While Aelx did come a long way in 2009, his fielding numbers were still pretty bad
Of all American League third basemen with at least 950 innings in 2009, Rodriguez had the fewest out of zone plays, lowest Revised Zone Rating (RZR) and second lowest Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (UZR/150).
In 2010, we’ve seen an improvement. As it stands right now, Alex has a 7.0 UZR/150 and a .763 RZR (which is fourth best among AL 3B’s w/at least 200 innings played). In the early season, the numbers show that Alex has improved quite a bit on defense.
If you prefer the “eye test,” I’d say Alex passes. Even just by watching the games this season, I’ve seen Alex moving much better to his left than he did last year and his arm is as strong as ever. Watching him throw inspires quite a bit of jealousy.
As the season moves on, I don’t think we can expect much more improvement UZR-wise, but I wouldn’t expect a big drop off either. I don’t want to be greedy, but I think a 3-5 UZR/150 is possible for A-Rod this year, even if it’s only because of a hot start. I think you guys would agree that we won’t see him post something as bad as his -8 mark last season, but we’re not going to see his 11.2 mark from 2004.
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