Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, but Joe Girardi says “he’s due”

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Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, finishing the first half hitting .269 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs, and a .436 slugging percentage in 82 games.

Both his batting average and slugging percentage would be career-lows and he’s on pace to finish with an OPS below .800 for the first time in 17 full seasons as a major leaguer. All of which isn’t shocking considering he’s 36 years old and showed major signs of declining last season when he missed 63 games with injuries and had what was at the time the worst season of his career by hitting .276 with 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a .461 slugging percentage.

His yearly OPS has dropped from 1.067 to .965 to .933 to .847 to .823 to .793 since winning the MVP in 2007 and between the aging and injuries Rodriguez seems unlikely to reverse that pattern. However, manager Joe Girardi has yet to bat him anywhere but third or fourth in the Yankees’ lineup and told Austin Laymance of MLB.com that he believes Rodriguez is going to have a big second half:

He’s due. It is what it is. Sometimes guys don’t get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. … No one knows what the future holds, but I would say he’s due. Maybe he hasn’t driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he’s been on base, he’s hit some home runs and he’s a middle of the order guy.

Rodriguez is certainly capable of getting hot and even as a shell of his former self he’s been an above-average hitter as is, but the Yankees of all teams can do better in the middle of the lineup.

Dating back to 2010, among all hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances Rodriguez ranks 84th in batting average, 56th in on-base percentage, 42nd in slugging percentage, and 46th in OPS. At this point he’s merely a good, solid hitter with occasional power … except he’s batting third or cleanup for the team with MLB’s best record and is still owed $114 million from 2013-2017.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.