It's been two months since the Yankees found out about Alex Rodriguez' hip, and on Wednesday, the third baseman will finally have his surgery. After 27 awful-looking Postseason plate appearances, it's no surprise that Rodriguez had a significant injury. It wasn't until being benched by Joe Girardi in Game three of the ALDS, that the slugger admitted to his manager that his hip had been bothering him, and that he wasn't "firing on all cylinders." Cashman would later say that one benefit of the hip ordeal was that it brought peace of mind to Rodriguez, who had worries about his October performance. Yesterday, Dan Martin of the New York Post got a few quotes from batting coach Kevin Long on the subject. Long believed the hip problems manifested themselves earlier in the season, and that his swing was noticeably different months earlier.
“I knew it in August,” the Yankees hitting coach said by phone Saturday. “I didn’t know exactly what it was, but his lower half was not letting him do the things he’s normally able to do.”
Later on in the article, he hints at what might have changed in his approach during 2012.
“I hope he’ll be able to overcome the deficiencies that were holding him back and gain flexibility in his hips and glutes,” Long said. “He has to go through the healing process, but last time he got through it pretty quick. I’m glad he’s getting it done. The last time we were both very concerned about how he would come back and he is getting older, but the fact that he’s already done this once will ease both of our minds.”
As optimistic as it sounds, I'm curious to see how his hip injury had such a large impact on his swing. Rodriguez was shut down for nearly 40 days prior to his Sepetember return, and even older players like Derek Jeter found a way to work through their own cumulative injuries. Perhaps I'm wary about what Yankee personnel say, but this excuse seems a little too convenient.
I decided to look back at the footage. I grabbed one of Rodriguez' at bats from June of this season and compared it to his last ALDS at bat.
Not much of his swing is different until you see the lower half. If you compare his left hip from June To October, you'll see that it makes a slight bend, in the Postseason, when he's making contact with the pitch. You'll get a better sense of how it affects his swing by looking at the angle on his left foot. In both instances, the left foot falls while pointing towards first base, however it differs on contact. In his June at bat, you can see the foot land and plant itself as he's hitting the ball. In October, his foot comes down at the same angle, but then instantly shifts on contact with the pitch. He fails to successfully plant his foot to the ground as the torque reaches his hips. His weak left hip couldn't transfer the power to his legs.
There was a lack of power, but more importantly, there was a lack of balance. It looks like his weak hip had a significant effect on Alex Rodriguez, and we can hope that the surgery allows him to get back into his June form. The organization should have a better idea of the recovery time and severity of the injury on Wednesday, when they finally see what they're dealing with.