By Sweeny Murti
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Alex Rodriguez is ready for Opening Day. That’s 1 out of 162. But how many more after that?

Too many people have asked me over the last two months what kind of numbers Alex Rodriguez will put up this year, and my belief is it’s all tied into one number only–the one under “Games Played.”

From 2000-2007, A-Rod averaged 158 games played. Some of that (the 162-162-161 he put up during the Texas years) can be attributed in part to his admitted use of PEDs. But A-Rod was still in his prime years then, an age of 24-31 in those seasons. Since 2008 the number under column “G” has gone like this: 138, 124, 137, 99, with stints on the DL each season.

Can A-Rod stay healthy enough to put up the 40 HR-120 RBI type numbers we got used to seeing? It would be quite a feat now in his age 36 season. I have argued with many these last few weeks and months, about whether those numbers are still possible, and my answer remains the same: It’s not that I don’t think he can put up those numbers, its just that I don’t think he’s capable of playing enough games to put up those numbers.

When I asked A-Rod this week if he had a target number of games, he would not pin a number on it, simply admitting that 99 (his total in 2011) was not good enough. Agreed. But is there an ideal number? In my mind its around 125 games. Anything over that should be a bonus. And if he takes the field for 125-plus games, the numbers will be there. Because only a healthy A-Rod can play that often, and a healthy A-Rod is still one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Joe Girardi agrees:

A-Rod looked good in March. But he wasn’t playing 9 innings and he wasn’t playing four, five, or six days in a row. How the body that has broken down each of the last four years and turns 37 in July responds over the long season is the key, and its not something any of us can answer right now.

So don’t look at BA, OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, or anything else to measure how A-Rod does in 2012. Just look to see if his name is in the lineup that day. The more times that happens, the better all those other numbers will be.

Sweeny Murti

Do you think A-Rod will be healthy enough to play 125 games? Sound off in the comments below…

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