Where do we start? Actually, where do we start after we talk about A-Rod?
The New York Yankees' postseason flameout ended on Thursday night in Detroit, beginning what figures to be long, loud offseason in the Bronx. Although Alex Rodriguez' benching by Yankees manager Joe Girardi was the big story as the Tigers swept the Yankees out of the ALCS, the team's epic postseason struggles were certainly the work of many people sporting pinstripes -- including some of those in the stands, apparently.
After barely holding on to the AL East crown, the team that lead the majors in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS during the regular season could barely put up any runs in the playoffs. Having plated enough in fits and starts to narrowly edge the Orioles in the ALDS, the Yankees' offense produced runs in just three of 39 innings in its four straight ALCS losses to the Tigers.
The culprit many have pointed to has been the Yankees' $275 million man, Rodriguez, who was benched three games in the playoffs and pinch hit for three times (one of which saved the team int he ALDS). When A-Rod was permitted to enter the batter's box, he went 3 for 25 with 12 strikeouts.
Again, he was hardly the only Bronx Bomber to misfire.
Curtis Granderson, who led the team with 43 homers and 106 RBI during the season, went 3 for 30 in the playoffs with a staggering 16 strikeouts (had 195 in the regular season). Robinson Cano, arguably the team's most dynamic offensive player, batted a clean .100 in 40 postseason at-bats.
"It wasn't just one guy struggling," Rodriguez said after Game 4, via the Associated Press. "It was a collective group, and it was a very unique situation."
"Unique." That's one way to put it. Before the A-Rod trade rumors begin to intensify and the baseball media covers the Yankees' offseason like ESPN covers Tim Tebow, it's time to decide who deserves the most blame for the Yankees' exit.
Was it A-Rod's fault? Granderson? Maybe Girardi with all of his eyebrow-raising roster moves in the ALCS? Scroll down below and vote.
Pinch-hitting Raul Ibanez for A-Rod worked against the O's, but it may have opened the flood gates for too many changes to Girardi's lineup. Did he go overboard by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/alex-rodriguez-nick-swisher-benched-yankees-alcs_n_1971952.html">benching A-Rod, Swisher</a> and Granderson in order to play Gardner, Chavez and Nix in crucial games?
Granderson had 30 at-bats <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=grandcu01&t=b&post=1">this postseason</a>, striking out in 16 of them. He batted .158 in the ALDS and went HITLESS in the ALCS, leading to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/arod-granderson-benched-yankees-alcs-game-4_n_1980912.html">Girardi benching him</a> in Game 4.
Derek Jeter's Ankle
Leading off the lineup, Jeter proved to be the only consistent spark on the roster and recorded <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=jeterde01&t=b&post=1">nine hits throughout six games</a>. But when the captain went down in extra innings with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/14/derek-jeter-injury-ankle-fracture-yankees_n_1964498.html">a broken ankle</a> in Game 1 of the ALCS, it set-off a flurry of lineup changes and ended his streak of <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=jeterde01&t=b&post=1">158 postseason</a> appearances. Would the Yankees still be playing if Jeter hadn't gotten injured?
Unlike Granderson who struck out <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=grandcu01&t=b&post=1">in more than half </a>of his postseason at-bats, Swisher struck out in <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=swishni01&t=b&post=1">only a THIRD of his</a>. He was 2 for 18 in the ALDS and 3 for 12 in the ALCS, where he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/alex-rodriguez-nick-swisher-benched-yankees-alcs_n_1971952.html">got benched twice</a> in four games.
Yes, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/yankees-beat-orioles-raul-ibanez-12th-inning_n_1956599.html">came through in the clutch</a>. But perhaps his home runs caused Joe Girardi to get a bit too cute with his roster. And if Ibanez doesn't hit the game-tying (but ultimately meaningless) homer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/14/raul-ibanez-home-run-yankees-tigers-alcs-game-1_n_1964416.html">against the Tigers in Game 1</a> then Derek Jeter doesn't injure his ankle in extra innings..
Yankees fans might point to some poor umpiring, especially <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/14/jeff-nelson-blown-call-umpire-yankees-tigers_n_1965615.html">Jeff Nelson's horrendous blown call</a> in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Teixeira had a great ALDS against Baltimore, but <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=teixema01&t=b&post=1">only batted .200</a> against Detroit and had two costly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/sports/baseball/misplays-in-game-4-of-the-alcs-cost-the-yankees.html?_r=0">defensive mishaps</a> in Game 4. With his teammates struggling, should he have been able to carry the load?
Cano <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=canoro01&t=b&post=1">batted .075</a> this postseason including an embarrassing <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121014&content_id=39806944&vkey=news_nyy&c_id=nyy">record-breaking hitless streak. </a>
Early in the ALCS, Yankees fans took heat for not filling up Yankee Stadium for Games 1 and 2. By the time that the Yankees had been swept an <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/harper-yankee-admits-bombers-jolted-bronx-jeers-article-1.1187331">anonymous player told Daily News</a> that the negativity among those who did turn up was a factor in the team's poor play.
Against the O's, A-Rod went <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2012_ALDS1.shtml">2 for 16 with NINE strikeouts</a>. He was <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2012_ALCS.shtml">1 for 9 against the Tigers</a>, got benched a couple times, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/alex-rodriguez-joe-girardi-raul-ibanez-pinch-hit_n_1959688.html">was pinch hit for</a> in clutch situations and reportedly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/alex-rodriguez-flirting-yankees-tigers-game-1_n_1970190.html">flirted with a bikini model</a> during Game 1 of the ALCS. Not the best postseason..