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Monday, December 3, 2012
A-Rod needs another hip surgery

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

Alex Rodriguez, one of the most valuable sluggers in the history of fantasy baseball, is scheduled for another hip surgery, this time on his left hip. According to the New York Yankees, it will be a similar procedure to the one that cost him the first 28 games of the 2009 season, albeit one with a lengthier scheduled recovery: He is expected to miss four to six months.

Alex Rodriguez
Most fantasy owners shouldn't rely on Alex Rodriguez for much production in 2013.

Perhaps we now have an explanation for Alex Rodriguez's 3-for-25, 12-strikeout performance during the 2012 playoffs and, sure enough, Yankees doctors specifically mentioned that the hip issue impacted him in October.

But the truth fantasy owners must face is that A-Rod's glory days are firmly behind him, as both his slugging percentage and OPS have declined every year since 2007, he has fallen short of 20 home runs in each of the past two seasons and he hasn't appeared in as many as 140 games since 2007. Using this hip operation as an explanation for his declining career numbers would be a stretch; the truth is he's 37 years old with declining bat speed and durability questions.

Rodriguez's name might again grab you come 2013 draft day. You might theorize that he's well worth a mid-round pick to stash on your DL in the hopes he's back on the shorter end of that timetable, perhaps by May 1, rather than around the All-Star break. You might cite the advantage to his runs/RBI numbers as a member of the loaded Yankee lineup in their hitting-friendly ballpark. The truth, however, is that at his age, A-Rod is smarter to count out until at least Memorial Day, and that Yankees lineup isn't as potent as it once was.

To the latter point: The Yankees' 804 runs scored (4.96 per game) in 2012 was their fewest in four years, their .337 team on-base percentage was their lowest in 11 years, and while they hit a franchise-record 245 homers, the result was not a team that ranks head and shoulders ahead of the pack in terms of runs/RBI support.

Feel free to target A-Rod in the late/final rounds of a standard mixed league, like ESPN's 10-team format, with the knowledge that he can be safely stashed in your DL spot. It's not a strategy I necessarily recommend, however, and you shouldn't take him within the top 200 picks in the draft. Remember that DL spots are precious; they might be needed for a higher-round selection you lose for a couple weeks in April.