August 28, 2006
A-Rod Now A Mistake Hitter?
I was just looking at some of Alex Rodriguez' "splits" to date - and this jumped out at me:
When A-Rod faces a pitcher for the first time in a game, he's terrible.
Really. When facing a pitcher for the first time in a game, Rodriguez whiffs nearly one-third of the time - and when he manages to make contact he's batting a whopping .197.
But, when Alex faces a pitcher in a game for the second time, or more, he's superhuman. (Here, we're talking about an OPS of greater than one superhuman.)
So, what is it about fresh pitchers that A-Rod doesn't like?
If I had to guess, on average, I would say that a pitcher has his best velocity and control when he's first in a game. And, with these skills, I want to assume that a pitcher can get his fastball in a good spot on Alex - say, up and in. (Based on watching games this season, it does appear that anything with some speed, up and in, is the pitch that Rodriguez struggles with - most of the time.)
This makes me wonder - is Alex Rodriguez now the type of hitter who can be pitched to, if you have your stuff and command, and who will only crush a mistake?
Hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Many hitters have had great careers with this approach: Make your pitch, beat me. Don't make your pitch, I beat you.
But, typically, these types of hitters, on very good teams, tend to bat lower in the line-up - somewhere around the range of 6th or 7th.
You know the type of hitter and the range we're talking about here. If not, think "Jorge Posada."
In fact, this season (to date) A-Rod has 19 RCAA in 561 PA while Posada has 14 RCAA in 445 PA. That's pretty close, no?
Maybe it's time to move Alex Rodriguez down in the line-up (at least until he proves that he can hit good "pitcher's pitches" again)?
Maybe Torre should use Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Giambi and then someone - and bat A-Rod 6th? Of course, the question is "Who's someone?"
This is where the Yankees miss Matsui and/or Sheffield.
It appears that the Yankees have no other option now than to bat Alex Rodriguez in the top five of the line-up - and just hope that pitchers make mistakes against him (and that he takes care of them when they do).
Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 28, 2006 04:37 PM
FWIW, I checked, and Jeter bats
to date, when facing a pitcher for the first time in a game.
And, Giambi goes
so, it is possible to hit pitchers the first time that you face them in a game.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at August 28, 2006 05:15 PM
I've always thought that A-Rod's reputed "close and late" struggles had more to do with the type of hitter he is rather than whatever is going on in his headspace, i.e. the conventional wisdom that he's pressing in pressure situations. He's always looked looked terrible to me when facing someone for the first time, especially a quality, hard throwing reliever. So, I'm curious if these stats hold for his other years, but I'm getting really despondent that suddenly he's morphed into Rob Deer.
To me, those stats say that Alex Rodriguez hits better when he knows what is coming. First time around, he takes pitches and sees what the pitcher throws ( how good his control is and how fast his velocity reaches). Then next time up, he's all ready to hit.
Posted by: Zachary A at August 28, 2006 06:13 PM
For A-Rod, first time he sees a pitcher. This year is certainly an outlier. Normally he's within the Jeter/Giambi range.
05 - 2: .285/.363/.570
- 3: .347/.438/.613
04 - 2: .326/.405/.688
- 3: .348/.427/.598
03 - 2: .356/.444/.598
- 3: .304/.391/.678
So his second & third trips against the pitcher are pretty much in line with recent history. I can't imagine this is a warning sign of sudden decline, but maybe he needs glasses.
The big issue for me is that with the game on the line in the 8th or 9th inning and the opponents stud reliever in the game, we don't want A-Rod anywhere near the plate. Against a lefty, pinch hit Wilson oe Bernie, against a righty....well...best we avoid that situation.
My wife and I were watching the game the other day, and Arod struck out again. She's a big fan too, and half-jokingly said, 'Maybe he needs glasses.' hmmmm... it worked for Rick Vaughn.
So, he only needs glasses for the 1st time that he sees a pitcher?
It's not his eyes - it's the ability to handle what comes in that first facing.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at August 28, 2006 09:09 PM
There's only one thing left for our Little Miss Bobbitt... *
* 5 points if you catch that obscure reference
We know Alex is a highly talented baseball player, based on what he's done in the past. We know that this year he is able to make adjustments the second/third time seeing a pitcher that are in line with his historical rate. We also know that this year, for some reason, he is absolutely unable to hit a pitcher the first time. The question is why. Why can't A-Rod do this year what he's done in the past? He's still highly talented -- he can make the same adjustments he's always done. I'm just throwing this out as a hypothesis, which is that he's having trouble seeing the ball the first time. But he's so good that his ability and experience helps him the next time, that he is able to compensate in some way. This is a totally wild theory, as I am not an optometrist, nor have I had any chance to examine him.