Derek Jeter idolized him. Now, perhaps, Alex Rodriguez can learn a thing or two from him. Dave Winfield missed the entire 1989 season, after undergoing surgery to remove fragments of a herniated disc in his back. Like, A-Rod, Winfield was getting up there in age, nearing the end of a decade long contract and wasn’t on the best terms with club ownership, albeit for different reasons.
While Winny was and still is a favorite among New York Yankees fans, A-Rod remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Still, there are some parallels and a potential playbook for A-Rod in 2015 and beyond.
When Winfield came back for the 1990 season, he played 20 games for the Yankees, hitting .213 with two home runs, before being traded to the California Angels. Chalk it up to warm weather, a change of scenery or whatever you will but for the remainder of that season, the 38-year-old Winfield, hit .275 with 19 home runs and 72-RBI for the Halos. That season, Winfield was only DH for ten of 132 games, playing the rest in the outfield. Granted A-Rod is a year older than Winfield was but if you’re the Yankees and he puts up those numbers, at this point, you take it and run to the bank.
If one continues to follow the template, it only gets better. In his aged 39 season for California, Winfield played 150 games, batting .262 with 28 home runs, his most since 1983, while driving in 86 runs. As Winfield shifted to the Toronto Blue Jays, for his aged 40 season, he was DH for 130 of 156 games, hitting .290, with an OPS of .867, smashing 26 home runs, while knocking in 108 runs, in a loaded Jays lineup. That 1992 campaign saw Winfield help Toronto win its first World Series in franchise history. Winfield also ranked fifth in MVP voting and won the silver slugger award.
In parts of the final three season’s of his career, with the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, Winfield smacked 33 home runs and drove in 123 runs. Even if the Yanks got something like his 1993 campaign with the Twinkies, out of A-Rod, they’d have to take it in a heartbeat.
Obviously I don’t have to tell you that Winfield was built with a big frame and a strong natural physique. He was a Hall of Fame player for a reason.
Will A-Rod take a page out of Winny’s book? Assuming the Yankees give him an opportunity, we’ll find out soon enough.