Rodriguez’s situation isn’t quite as promising, and that’s mainly due to his age. Entering his age-36 season, Rodriguez has a bad hip and 16 full seasons under his belt, but even with that bad news, Rodriguez is still one of the game’s best players when he steps on the field. Last season was his worst full season, but he was still worth 4 wins. A .278 BABiP was also his worst, and that could be a sign of the end if his xBABiP was not .319. Rodriguez, however, saw a severe dip in his LD% to 13.8 (career 17.8%), and his xBABiP was brought back up due to a similar increase in groundballs, which find holes more than flyballs do. His HR/FB% also fell, to 17.1% (career 23.1%), and the signs seem to point toward losing bat speed. Augmenting that belief, Rodriguez’s damage done to fastballs dropped to a 2002-2010 low 17.2 wFB (runs produced when hitting a fastball), which is quite a bit lower than his average 31.3 runs. All of this isn’t to say that this past season wasn’t a fluke, but Rodriguez won’t be a star forever. As for the last part of Rodriguez’s offensive game, Rodriguez walked fewer times than he had in any season since 1999, and his .341 OBP was merely pedestrian. I don’t think this is anything more than a fluke, and he doesn’t seem to have been more aggressive (Swing % of 45 is near his 44 career mark; it seems the big difference was that he contacted a lot more balls out of the zone than normal, which leads to outs and not walks). But I certainly don’t like that he’s walking less.
Defensively, A-Rod has been below-average since he moved to third, and he continued to be so last season. But how bad is he? UZR just thinks he’s a couple runs below-average, but B-Ref thinks he is almost double-digit below-average bad (also thought he was a win worse than FanGraphs did). Either way, increasing age and a bad hip won’t help.
Overall, I don’t think the FANS projection of 4.8 fWAR is terrible, but I’m thinking it might be closer to his ceiling than the expectation. I’d probably suggest something a little lower than the .288/.372/.530 line, and his defense will probably continue to decline. 4-4.5 wins still indicates near All-Star production, but his days of winning MVP Awards may be over.
So will they rebound? After producing a combined 7.4 WAR last season, I think they’ll clear 9 this season. Both players are extraordinary talents, and I don’t think they’re likely to collapse. Teixeira is on the back-end of his prime, but he’s probably more motivated than usual, which can’t hurt. A-Rod is a little older, and as he ages, the likelihood of a decline grows. Predictions of Teixeira’s decline are a little premature, and while A-Rod is declining, he still has a long way to fall and his 2011 should at least look better than last season. Don’t worry too much. That’s what 2013-2015 is for.