The first place New York Yankees suffered a significant loss to their lineup this week when three-time American League MVP and fourteen-time All Star Alex Rodriguez
broke his left hand. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from Seattle Mariners hurler Felix Hernandez
in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game and appeared to be in obvious pain immediately after the play.
Early speculation is that Rodriguez will be out of action for four to six weeks, though that may change after further medical evaluation.
A-Rod's injury marks the second straight year that he will miss a significant portion of the season due to medical concerns, as he played in just 99 games in 2011 and hit .276 with 16 home runs. So far in 2012, Rodriguez has had some ups and downs and was overall having a somewhat disappointing performance, though he had been hitting better lately and had a .315 July batting average. His .276 average and 15 home runs in 94 games this year are surprisingly close to the numbers he had over the same span last season and, while at age 36 he is several years removed from his MVP-caliber stats, he is still a very viable power bat.
In his absence, the Yankees will turn mainly to infielders Eric Chavez
and Jayson Nix
. Chavez had several outstanding seasons as a power hitter for the Oakland Athletics and averaged 25 home runs per year from 1999 to 2007, but he has been been plagued by injuries during the last half-decade and at age 34 has been a bench bat and part-time designated hitter for New York. So far this year, Chavez has a .269 average with 8 home runs in 156 at-bats. Nix will likely get at-bats primarily versus lefthanded pitchers and to spell Chavez, though performance could dictate playing time between the pair.
In addition to their in-house options, the Yankees could also pursue an infielder via tradet, and the team has already been linked to Padres third baseman Chase Headley
. As a club that is traditionally very active in the trade market, there's a very good chance that the Yankees will acquire Headley or another hitter to off-set the loss of A-Rod.
From a fantasy standpoint, the biggest effect of Rodriguez's injury (aside from on Rodriguez himself) will clearly be on Chavez. Owners should certainly consider Chavez a viable source of home runs and RBI as a regular member of the potent Yankees offense, though a trade for Headley or another third baseman would change that very quickly.