Let's consider it from a historical perspective. Mickey Mantle is the demi-God of Yankees postseason play (though, of course, Mickey's postseason games were all World Series because the playoffs didn't start until 1969, the year after he retired). Mantle played in 65 postseason games, 10 fewer than A-Rod, and batted 230 times, 16 more. His BA was .257, six points lower than A-Rod's. Mickey hit a World-Series-record 18 home runs, five more than Rodriguez's postseason total, but actually had one fewer RBI, 40 to 41. But Mantle was surrounded by much better hitters, most notably Yogi Berra, and pitchers, like Whitey Ford, so nobody noticed when Mantle didn't come through because somebody else on the Yankees usually did.
I'm not saying Alex Rodriguez has been a better postseason or clutch performer than Mickey Mantle. I'm merely pointing out that the numbers don't say he wasn't.
Let's try one more comparison, Joe DiMaggio, a Yankee with nine World Series rings. In 51 games, DiMaggio batted 199 times in postseason play, 15 more than Alex Rodriguez. He outhit A-Rod by exactly 8 points, .271 to .263. Rodriguez has had more home runs, 13 to 8, and 11 more RBIs, 41 to 30. But no one dwelled on what DiMaggio failed to do in those World Series because the Yankees won them.
Alex Rodriguez is probably the most despised player in baseball history. Barry Bonds was at least cheered by the hometown crowds in San Francisco, and Ty Cobb was rooted for by many fans in his own lifetime. Rodriguez is booed in every park he plays in. The New York press has seen to it that his nine seasons in the Bronx will be forever regarded as a dark age in the history of baseball's most successful team.
And what has Rodriguez accomplished since 2004? He has been an All-Star in seven of nine seasons, won two MVP awards, and hit 302 home runs. He was arguably the league's MVP in 2009, when he missed 38 games but led the Yankees to the 2009 AL pennant and their only World Series win since 2000. Take him away, and the Yankees entire postseason history is a 12-year record of frustration and failure.
Rodriguez had the worst season of his career in 2012, hitting .272 with just 18 home runs and 57 RBIs while missing 40 games due to injury. But he gets no credit for what he's done right. He hustled, playing a decent third base and stealing 13 bases in 14 tries. He doesn't feud with his managers or teammates, and he doesn't complain to reporters when he's benched. He's polite to even the rudest fans. He goes out of his way to help young players.
Perhaps when the Yankees finally succeed in riding him out of New York—no matter how many millions it costs them—some of this will be understood and Rodriguez's achievements will be put in perspective. But I doubt it. Reputations made in New York, whether fair or unfair, tend to be permanent. I can already see the scene some time around the year 2027 when Rodriguez runs out onto the field at a Yankees Old Timer game: some cheers, a smattering of boos, and A-rod forcing a half smile and shrugging his shoulders as if to say, "What the hell?"