Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Now I'm not one to defend A-Rod...

As a Red Sox fan, I do my best to avoid defending A-Rod. I'm usually very objective when it comes to evaluating New York, as I want to give clear-headed analysis. But I usually throw A-Rod to the wolves when something bad happens. My curiosity is getting the best of me this time though, as I read this article at the NY Daily News. I had no idea that A-Rod was getting a reputation as someone who racked up hits against bad teams (TB) and choked against better teams (Boston). Granted, a lot of times there are more bad teams than good, so he can rack up amazing numbers over the course of a season against bad ones and maybe struggle against some better pitching, but an entire bad reputation as a guy who only hits against the pitiful? It seems out of place for a guy who won an MVP and could have won another one the year before that. Granted, I do not see him winning an MVP in New York since he was most definitely aided by Arlington in his offensive abilities. A-Rod is an amazing hitter, but he is not the A-Rod of Texas lore anymore. Top 5 player in the majors? Uh, yeah. Now as far as this reputation for using the bad teams as whipping boys and getting flogged by the playoff caliber teams of the world, let's look at some splits, shall we?

First I will use A-Rod's career splits against a few teams who he has the most playing time against. This will make the sample size as bearable as possible. By the way, I hate, hate to use RBI's as a statistic in evaluating, and this won't happen again I promise, but in order to see whether he is a "choke" artist I will throw those totals on there since I cannot find his averages with RISP and runners on base and the like for these specific teams:

Career Splits

Orioles: 108 G, 431 AB, .323/.396/.619, 34 HR, 53 BB, 100 RBI
Red Sox: 110 G, 427 AB, .286/.369/.496, 24 HR, 52 BB, 67 RBI
Angels: 126 G, 489 AB, .331/.409/.671, 44 HR, 57 BB, 101 RBI
White Sox: 96 G, 359 AB, .245/.323/.435, 17 HR, 42 BB, 50 RBI
Indians: 83 G, 324 AB, .299/.386/.546, 17 HR, 44 BB, 60 RBI
Tigers: 85 G, 335 AB, .355/.411/.672, 25 HR, 31 BB, 84 RBI
Royals: 95 G, 361 AB, .316/.418/.604, 27 HR, 61 BB, 68 RBI
Twins: 87 G, 335 AB, .328/.395/.654, 30 HR, 38 BB, 74 RBI
Yankees: 82 G, 335 AB, .334/.386/.651, 28 HR, 31 BB, 74 RBI
Oakland: 123 G, 490 AB, .273/.342/.533, 33 HR, 44 BB, 93 RBI
Blue Jays: 94 G, 374 AB, .334/.405/.660, 33 HR, 37 BB, 92 RBI
Devil Rays: 80 G, 326 AB, .258/.332/.506, 20 HR, 29 BB, 55 RBI

The first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that the team that seems to handle him the most is Tampa Bay. Also, the perenially .500 White Sox give him a hard time, as well as middle of the pack Cleveland. Of course, during A-Rod's career the White Sox, Indians, and Orioles have all been playoff teams during A-Rod's time with Seattle and Texas, so they can be viewed as both good and bad teams. Also note how his numbers against the Red Sox are not that bad at all...I'd take it. Another thing, A-Rod destroys the Twins, hit the Yankees extremely hard, and has 44 career homeruns against the Angels...this is not a man who saves his best performance for the bad teams. But, to be fair to the assesment, we'll see how he stacks up against the AL in 2004 while on the New York Yankees in order to see if this is a new "problem" (of course now sample size is a problem, but I'm trying to shut this claim down):

2004 Splits

Orioles: 19 G, 71 AB, .310/.419/.676, 8 HR, 14 BB, 21 RBI
Red Sox: 19 G, 72 AB, .306/.412/.486, 3 HR, 11 BB, 9 RBI
Blue Jays: 17 G, 66 AB, .288/.377/.439, 3 HR, 8 BB, 10 RBI
D-Rays: 19 G, 76 AB, .237/.341/.395, 2 HR, 9 BB, 13 RBI

According to the AL East, A-Rod beats up on Boston and Baltimore, the second and third place teams, and hits under .300 against Toronto while stinking up the joint in St. Petersburg. Let's take a look at the rest of the AL in this even smaller sample size wannabe chart:

Angels: 9 G, 34 AB, .265/.341/.353
White Sox: 7 G, 26 AB, .269/.367/.423
Indians: 6 G, 25 AB, .240/.296/.400
Tigers: 7 G, 25 AB, .440/.517/.960
Royals: 6 G, 20 AB, .400/.556/.500
Twins: 4 G, 18 AB, .278/.278/.722
A's: 9 G, 37 AB, .270/.341/.595
Mariners: 6 G, 25 AB, .360/.393/.800
Rangers: 9 G, 35 AB, .343/.425/.543

Well I'll be damned. Worst performances coming against the Angels, Pale Hose, Tribe, Twins, and A's. The teams on the list that pass for major league teams with pitching staffs of a sort. The Tigers, Royals, Mariners, and pitching-thin, ballpark enhanced Rangers all got bludgeoned by A-Rod's bat. Does (A)-Rod really step down to the occasion? Or is it just (B) that the Tigers lack Johan Santana? I'm going to go with letter B here, and figure that he beats on bad teams in the rest of the AL because they are bad, and has a harder time against good teams, well maybe because they are good. This was what I thought from the beginning, since it is a little silly to think someone with A-Rod's ability piles onto his stats against the weaklings of the league because he's some kind of choke artist who cannot fill out the New York Yankee Uniformâ„¢, and not because they, you know, suck. That performance against Tampa Bay really kills me though. Was he having trouble walking against Victor Zambrano or something? It is funny in retrospect that the team who he has the worst career numbers against is the very team that inspired this whole idea from the article. Conclusion: sportswriters still are not doing their homework before they press end on their e-mails to the editor. Thank God for the Rob Neyer's and Joe Sheehan's of the world for looking things up before they speak.

Comments:
Hey Marc, finally get a chance to catch up on this stuff after my crazy week!

First off, A-Rod will be the (I swear I wasn't trying to make this pun) lightning rod for Yankee criticism in the NY media for the next five years... just because. The guy could hit .350 with 50 homers, but if he K'd late in a big game with Boston, he'd catch all the heat. Maybe Randy will shoulder some of it this year.

As for Tampa, having watched a lot of horrible Rays/Jays games... I'm forced to wonder if just maybe everyone plays like crap against them. You can't be excited to host them, nor can you be excited to play in front of paltry crowds in Florida. Maybe that's just where all the second-stringers do their damage because they're facing pitchers they can actually hit!

Finally, I've gotten my first taste of baseball here in Ottawa and I have to tell you that Walter Young looks like the real deal. 300 lbs. of hitting magic. Crowds here love the guy. I say a full season in the majors and he'd put up way better numbers than the Viagara man. I know nobody really cares what I think about the Orioles, but I just had to get that off my chest.

Kepp up the good work buddy.
 
Hmm...is Walter Young a huge prospect (as in size) I've read about, or is this another large man? Is this the next Sam Horn I read about? Fill me in...
 
When he was a Ranger and put up MVP numbers everyone around here said he had hallow numbers because he never hit in the clutch. I would argue its hard to hit in the clutch when you are always losing. It did seem he never came through in the 9th like he has this year.
 
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