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Alex Rodriguez's playoff struggles are back - but did they ever leave?

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees strikes out in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Monday, October 1 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.(Photo by Jim McIsaac) Credit: Jim McIsaac

During the 2009 postseason, Alex Rodriguez went on a tear. He hit .365 with six home runs and drove in 18 runs while powering the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2000. His status as a playoff “choker” seemed to be a thing of the past. After all, how could you boo a guy that just destroyed postseason pitching?

Well, that certainly didn't last too long.

A-Rod has struggled during the first two games of the playoffs this year, going 1-for-9 with no RBIs and five strikeouts against the Orioles. Joe Girardi has dutifully penciled him into the third spot of the batting order, though the calls to move A-Rod farther down the lineup are growing louder. Suddenly, the hero of 2009 is becoming the popular target of 2012 again.

What a difference three years make.

But A-Rod certainly hasn't helped himself. The story of A-Rod's postseason successes and failures can't be illustrated by a single set of stats, but rather you have to look at each chapter in order:

Pre-Yankees: A-Rod went to the postseason three times with the Seattle Mariners, batting 18-for-51 (.352) with three home runs and eight RBIs.

2004: Rodriguez looked ready to lead the Yankees to a title during his first year in the Bronx. He bats 15-for-38 (.394) with three home runs and eight RBIs through the first four games of the ALCS against the Red Sox.

2004-2007: Up 3-1 over the Red Sox, the Yankees collapse dramatically, and A-Rod becomes a goat, going 1-for-12 in the final three games. From Game 5 through the end of the 2007 postseason, A-Rod goes 8-for-56 (.142) with one home run and one RBI. He strikes out 18 times in that span and is labeled a poor postseason player.

2009: A-Rod leads the Yankees to a World Series title with an MVP-caliber performance.

2010-2012: It seemed as though A-Rod was over the hump of his playoff struggles with the Yankees. But the third baseman quickly slumped to his pre-2009 performance. Since the start of the 2010 playoffs, A-Rod is 10-for-59 (.169) with no home runs, six RBIs and 15 strikeouts.

With the Yankees in the playoffs he's hitting .253 (51-for-205) overall. But 35 of those hits came during the 2004 and 2009 postseasons.

Unless A-Rod can recapture some of that magic, the cries for him to be moved down in the order will only grow louder. And that drama will likely take center stage in the Bronx when the Yankees resume their playoff series Wednesday night.

Is A-Rod ready for his close-up again?


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