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August 22, 2006

A-Rod In August (And After)

We know that August is usually good for Alex Rodriguez. So, how's he doing, so far, this August?

These are A-Rod's stats this month to date:

Games: 21
At Bats: 81
Homeruns: 3
RBI: 17
Average: .321
On Base: .417
Slugging: .519

How could Yankees fans not be happy with those numbers?

Those figures are very impressive, no? But, I talked to some Yankees fans today who are still not thrilled with Rodriguez - even given these numbers.

If there's a downside to A-Rod's August, it's his overall batting numbers this month with Runners In Scoring Position (RISP). Here are those stats, for him, this month to date:

At Bats: 39
Ks: 7
BB: 7
Average: .256
On Base: .362
Slugging: .359

The most important number here is "On Base" - when Alex Rodriguez has come to bat, this month (so far) with RISP, he reaches base 36% of the time. That's very good.

However, what probably sticks in the minds of many are the "bad" numbers here: Ks, Slugging, and GIDP.

Think of it this way: They see A-Rod (this month) come to the plate 46 times with RISP. And, in those chances, nearly 25% of the time he strikes out or hits into a double play. And, when he's not making an out, he's not hitting for extra bases.

And, face it, that's what people want to see from a bopper like Alex when he comes to the plate with RISP - they want to see moon shots like those off the bat of Manny and/or Ortiz.

When people don't see that from A-Rod (with RISP) then it doesn't matter if he's batting .321 for the month with an OPS near one. The mental image of the whiffs and the DPs with RISP is branded on to their brain (and it's the first impression for them).

In some ways, A-Rod might be better off if he was one of those hitters who only hits with runners on - and is an auto-out when he's up with no one on base. "That guy" probably gets a pass in the eyes of many because he comes through "in the clutch." If memory serves correct, Graig Nettles had this type of rep - good with runners on and pedestrian (at best) with no one on. I'm sure there are other hitters with that rep too.

In the end, maybe it's just best for Yankees fans to look towards Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Giambi, Posada, Cano and Cabrera in terms of carrying the team - and just take A-Rod for what he provides (as gravy) and not dwell on him (as having to be 'the guy')?

It's sort of what happened up in Boston this weekend. Rodriguez was there. He was not the hitting star of the series - but, overall, he didn't stink either. And, Damon, Abreu, Giambi, and the others, got all the attention.

I'm sure it was a pretty peaceful 5 games for Alex. It was probably the most comfortable time he's had in Fenway as a Yankee.

If A-Rod can do "this" - meaning be another person who helps to keep moving the chains towards a first down, and not have to be the person to make the big TD play - I think he's also going to be fine for the rest of this season and the post-season that follows too.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 22, 2006 01:30 PM