Rob Neyer doesn’t let himself get too high or too low early in a baseball season. He doesn’t let himself get too excited or too disappointed.
Why? Because when there’s still 90 or 95 percent of the season left, why do that to yourself? Why give yourself false hope or false impressions?
But now that the All-Star Game is approaching – we’re less than a week away – is now okay to make some judgements about teams and players?
“Oh, sure,” the Fox Sports MLB analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “In fact, I tell fans, ‘Hey, you know what? If your team is 10-3 in April, get excited, have fun. That’s the point of this whole thing.’ But when I’m asked . . . what does it mean, well, then I say, ‘You know what? I can’t get too excited about it. I’m not a fan.’ I mean, I am a fan, but I’m also a writer, so I got to think about this stuff. But it’s definitely okay now to look at the standings and try to glean some meaning not only from the wins and losses – which tells us a great deal and they tell us a lot about what a team’s chances are the rest of the way – but also look at run differentials. That tells us a great deal about a team’s fundamental qualities. So sure, we’re well past the point where you can look and find something meaningful.”
We can certainly find something meaningful with Alex Rodriguez, who is hitting .280 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .387 OBP this season.
“It is, for me, the single-most surprising thing in all of baseball,” Neyer said. “Even more surprising than any particular team performances. It is the one thing that I did not see coming, that I actually predicted many times publicly – including probably on your show – would not happen. And I got to tell you this: I could not be more thrilled. I love comeback stories. I love being surprised. I love being wrong. This is all of those.”
Rodriguez, however, was not named an All-Star. Should he have been?
“It’s not a slam dunk by any means,” Neyer said. “It’s not. He’s not having an appreciably better season than Prince Fielder, whose spot could have gone to Alex Rodriguez. It’s roughly the same. I probably would have taken Rodriguez. I think he’s probably better on the bases. He gives you a little flexibility in the field if you need somebody to play third base in the tenth inning or something. But you can make a pretty good case for Prince Fielder.”
But that doesn’t mean that’s the direction Neyer would have gone.
“I think when you look at the intangibles, who’s got the better story this season?” he asked. “Who do you want to see batting in the eighth inning of the All-Star Game? I don’t know about you or every other fan in the world, but me, I want to see A-Rod batting. I think it’s a tremendous story that we’ve seen. So yes, I would say . . . he does deserve to be an All-Star.”