A few weeks shy of his 40th birthday, Alex Rodriguez is having his best season in years. He’s hitting .284 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs, 12 doubles, 45 runs and a .390 OBP.
And yet, he is not an All-Star – not in the fans’ eyes, not in the players’ eyes, and not in American League manager Ned Yost’s eyes.
Dontrelle Willis disagrees with all of the above.
“I definitely do (think Rodriguez should be an All-Star),” the Fox Sports analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You know who should be at the All-Star Game with him? Joe Girardi. He’s done a great job matching him up and giving him days off and the time he needs to stay fresh. With numbers like that, if he duplicates that, he (would have) 32 (home runs) and 90 (RBIs). He’s Comeback Player of the Year at that point.”
“It’s a great story for him,” Willis continued. “He’s doing well. You see the fans are rooting hard in New York. That’s probably why he’s hitting so well at home – because he’s comfortable in the friendly confines.”
Rodriguez has eight home runs at home and on the road, but he’s hitting .346 at Yankee Stadium and .229 everywhere else.
Splits aside, it’s been a magical year for Rodriguez.
“I’ll tell you what: if he doesn’t do what he does setting the table for (Mark) Teixeira, Teixeira is not an All-Star,” Willis said. “He’s made the lineup formidable for the Yanks, and that’s why they’re on top of the division.”
Teixeira is hitting just .243 but is fifth in the AL in home runs (20) and first in RBIs (59). The Yankees, meanwhile, are 44-38 entering play July 7 and have a one-and-a-half game lead over Baltimore in the AL East.
Rodriguez deserves a lot of credit for that. To be fair, he has played in just three games in the field this season, which is not ideal for an NL-hosted All-Star game. Still, Rodriguez, who got his 3,000th hit last month, could do something this year that not even Derek Jeter could do in either of his last two seasons: lead the Yankees to the playoffs.
“You’re talking about a guy that in spring training, we didn’t even know if he was going to make the team,” Willis said. “And then all of a sudden it went from ‘I hope’ to ‘We need.’ They’re going to continue to need production from him to keep up in their division because you see the weaponry they have in Toronto and Baltimore. The balls are flying. Even Boston being in last place, they’re only six games out. So they’re still in striking distance. It’s going to be a fun division. I hope he keeps it up.”