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Entries in Alex Rodriguez (16)

Friday
Oct192012

Yankees Hitters in October: An Autopsy

The New York Yankees' season ended last night when Prince Fielder snagged Jayson Nix's pop-up at the lip of the infield grass, completing the Tigers' four-game ALCS sweep. The sad part? Nix's one-hundred-foot floater was one of the Bombers' better ABs -- hey, at least he made contact!

New York led the American League in both on-base percentage and slugging during the regular season, but the club's offense no-showed in October. Here's a post-mortem on the Yankees' bats:

  • Collectively, the Yankees batted .187, got on base at a .254 clip and slugged .303. Ichiro was the only Bomber to tally double-digit hits (11), and Raul Ibanez was the only guy to go deep more than once (he hit three HR).
  • New York's trademark plate patience disappeared in October. The Yankees chased 32.4% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone during the playoffs, up from 27.3% during the regular season. Teams have been jumpier overall in the playoffs while facing higher quality pitching (the chase rate has increased from 28.4% during the regular season to 30.4%), but that's still a major jump in swinging at junk for the Yankees.
  • The club's biggest hackers were the hitless Eric Chavez (43.6% chase rate) and Robinson Cano (41.5%), who went 3-for-40. Chavez went after pitches thrown a foot outside, while Cano extended the zone down to his shoe tops:

Chavez's swing rate by pitch location

 

Cano's swing rate by pitch location

 

  • Curtis Granderson whiffed 43.5% of the time that he swung, far north of his already-high 29.7% miss rate during the regular season. He struck out 16 times, four more than any other postseason hitter.
  • The second-most whiff-tastic hitter? Alex Rodriguez. Despite being plastered to the bench for much of the ALDS, A-Rod struck out 12 times during the postseason. He whiffed 37.9% of the time that he swung (27.1% during the regular season).
  • Robinson Cano didn't record a single hit against a breaking or off-speed pitch, going 0-for-23 against curves, sliders and changeups. Pitchers buried Cano with soft stuff thrown low and away:

Location of breaking and off-speed pitches thrown to Cano during the playoffs

  • Russell Martin's hitting woes weren't due to poor plate discipline -- he just couldn't connect on pitches thrown over the plate. Martin saw a strike 55.6% of the time, second-highest among playoff hitters with at least 30 plate appearances (Jon Jay is first, at 56.2%).
  • Nick Swisher passed on some meatballs. He swung just half of the time that he got a pitch thrown middle-middle over the plate, down from about 76% of the time during the regular season. The average swing rate on middle-middle pitches is about 75% during the playoffs, and it was 72% during the regular season.
Tuesday
Oct092012

An analytic look at the struggles of Alex Rodriguez

In a press conference yesterday (10/9/2012), Yankee manager Joe Girardi was asked whether he contemplated making lineup changes, which might include Alex Rodriguez, he responded, "Well, I mean, I think that we're going to do whatever it takes to win this three-game series. Nothing that we do will be something that is just a knee-jerk reaction."

Girardi continued, "We know, the great thing about this is I have a great group of guys that's very unselfish, and they really want to win. And that's what we're going to do, what we think is best to win."

One can only assume that the underlying point here is that Girardi and his coaches have to be looking at whether to move Alex Rodriguez out of the number three slot in the batting order. 

A-Rod is once again struggling in the postseason going 1-for-9.

On Monday, Alex came to the plate five times:

10/7/2012 - New York Yankees 7 @ Baltimore Orioles 2
  • Rodriguez called out on strikes vs Jason Hammel (R), Top 1, 1 out, Bases Empty, leading 1-0
    • 2-2 - Strike Out on a 84 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
  • Rodriguez walks vs Hammel, Top 4, 0 out, Bases Empty, trailing 1-2
    • 3-2 - Walk on a 84 MPH Slider - Low
  • Rodriguez grounds out, shortstop J.J. Hardy to first baseman Mark Reynolds vs Hammel, Top 6, 0 out, Bases Empty, tied 2-2
    • 2-2 - Ground Ball Out on a 92 MPH Four Seamer - Over the Plate
  • Rodriguez strikes out swinging vs Darren O'Day (R), Top 7, 2 out, Men on First and Third, tied 2-2
    • 2-2 - Strike Out on a 87 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
  • Rodriguez strikes out swinging vs Jim Johnson (R), Top 9, 0 out, Men on First and Second, leading 4-2
    • 1-2 - Strike Out on a 94 MPH Four Seamer - Inside

On Tuesday, Alex came to the plate five times

10/8/2012 - New York Yankees 2 @ Baltimore Orioles 3
  • Alex Rodriguez lines into a double play, second baseman Robert Andino to shortstop J.J. Hardy. Derek Jeter doubled off 2nd vs Wei-Yin Chen (L), Top 1, 0 out, Men on First and Second, tied 0-0
    • 2-2 - Line Drive Double Play on a 92 MPH Four Seamer - Over the Plate
  • Rodriguez singles on a ground ball to left fielder Nate McLouth. Ichiro Suzuki to 2nd vs Chen, Top 3, 2 out, Man on First, leading 1-0
    • 0-0 - Ground Ball Single on a 91 MPH Four Seamer - Low
  • Rodriguez flies out to center fielder Adam Jones vs Chen, Top 5, 1 out, Bases Empty, trailing 1-2
    • 0-0 - Fly Ball Out on a 91 MPH Four Seamer - Over the Plate
  • Rodriguez strikes out swinging. Suzuki steals (1) 2nd base vs Darren O'Day (R), Top 7, 1 out, Man on First, trailing 2-3
    • 3-2 - Strike Out on a 78 MPH Slider - Outside
  • Rodriguez strikes out swinging vs Jim Johnson (R), Top 9, 2 out, Bases Empty, trailing 2-3
    • 3-2 - Strike Out on a 96 MPH Two Seamer - Low

Here's where the 47 pitches have gone to Rodriguez in the first two games:

A-Rod, as you read above, has struck out five-of-nine at bats.

Here are the 28 strikes Rodriguez has seen (includes fair ball contact):

Of these strikes, A-Rod has swung at 23 pitches and missed on 11 (he also put four in play - two grounders, one fly, and one line drive).

Overall:

  • 20 of the pitches were in the strike zone
  • 28 were fastballs, of which he swung at 15 of them and missed 6
  • 12 were sliders, of which he swung at 4 and missed three, but 7 were for strikes.

Objectively, even A-Rod detractors would have to admit that Rodriguez has looked pretty good against the Orioles starting pitchers. But, objectively even Rodriguez supporters have to admit that he has looked awful against the O's bullpen and that is when the Yankees need him to perform: late in the game, with runners on base, and when the game is on the line.

But this postseason is simply an extension of how he hit this regular season:

 

  • .230 with runners in scoring position
  • .135 RISP w/2 outs
  • .309 the first time he faced a starting pitcher
  • .368 the second time he faced a starting pitcher
  • .212 the first time he faced a relief pitcher

 

A-Rod was the number three batter in 68 starts and clean-up in 50 starts. As a frames of reference, Curtis Granderson led off in eight games, batted second in 90 games, fifth in 12 games, sixth in 32 games, 7th in eight games, and third and fourth in three other games.  And Mark Teixeira started in six different slots in the batting order.

Joe Girardi has to be contemplating making changes and while he may not do it when lefty Joe Saunders starts, I would be surprised not to see Granderson, Ichiro, and Ibanez playing prominent roles in a revamped lineup particularly if A-Rod's 0-6 with five whiffs expands.

Wednesday
Jun272012

My All Star Starters: AL 3B

While voting for the All-Star game ends tomorrow, I will still be producing these articles to discuss who I believe should have the starting nod and who should be on the team. Up tonight is the American League hot corner. This is a position that requires great reflexes coupled with a great arm, and, being a corner infield position, it is expected that this will be a position of hitting strength. All of the men being considered here are exceptional at their position and are all deserving of being in the conversation. Voting numbers can be found here.

#1. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers 3,073,541

Beltre leapt into first place since the last update, leading by almost 400,000 votes, and it has been well deserved. Since Beltre signed a one year deal with the Red Sox in 2010, he has been one of the most consistent third basemen in the game, showcasing unbelievable glovework coupled with an ability to hit for average and power. His power numbers really spiked after a down year in '09 where he only managed to put 8 out of the park. Since then he has gone deep 73 times. Below is a picture of how Beltre has adjusted an begun hitting more pitches for power.

Beltre is well known for his ability to go down on one knee and muscle balls out of the park. If you haven't seen it before, here is a link to see one from his Red Sox days. 

Beltre is not without fault though, as he sports a much higher groundball rate versus left handed pitching than righties, which has hurt his average versus southpaws.

Left (versus Righties) - Right (versus Lefties)This has not been too much of a problem, but if he can increase his flyball rate versus lefties, especially on the outside part of the zone, he may find that his average could increase even further. Now on to the stats.

71 G, 274 AB, 42 R, 90 H, 17 2b, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB, 16 BB, 34 SO, .328 AVG, .361 OBP, .533 SLG

Beltre could also afford to be a little more patient and draw some walks to boost the on-base percentage, but if he continues to get hits when he puts the ball in play, I can't really blame him for being a free swinger. Beltre continues to be an all-star on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and I wholeheartedly believe that he should have a place on that team when all is said and done.

 

#2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers 2,692,047 

Something has to be said for Cabrera's durability after the move back to third. He has played in 74 games, even after taking a hard hopper to the eye in spring training, which happened to leave a nice battle scar. The move back to third also hasn't hurt his ability to rake. Cabrera is one of those unique hitters that has power to all fields, and he is showcasing that this season. He has hit seven home runs to left, four to center, and four to right field, totaling up to fifteen big flies. Below is a chart of the spread of his hits throughout the season.

Cabrera has taken advantage of pitches left up in the zone and driven the ball all over ballparks, including a mammoth 514 ft Home Run to left field off of Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox. Cabrera has also managed to get hits off the hard stuff, averaging .350 against pitches with a velocity of at least 91 mph. If the velocity drops down below that, he tapers off, hitting only .273.

 

As long as pitchers continue to throw him the hard stuff, Cabrera will remain an all-star caliber hitter. Lets look at his stats.

74 G, 299 AB, 43 R, 91 H, 22 2b, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 3 SB, 26 BB, 46 SO, .304 AVG, .363 OBP, .528 SLG

Cabrera has Beltre beat in overall power numbers, but that could be a 25 at bat factor that has allowed the Tigers' third basemen more opportunity to hit the long ball. Cabrera is mashing the ball this season, but I do not believe that he should be considered the started over Beltre.

 

#3. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees 1,748,534

Compared to the first two guys on this list, the rest have been underwhelming. ARod hasn't been awful, but he also hasn't been able to live up to the performance of Cabrera and Beltre. Strangely enough, ARod has seen a concentration of pitches located dead in the strike zone, but he hasn't been able to capitalize to boost his average. 

ARod has been excellent in one strike counts this season, with an ISO rate of .323.

 

71 G, 264 AB, 40 R, 70 H, 6 2b, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 6 SB, 32 BB, 63 SO, .265 AVG, .355 OBP, .436 SLG

Comparing his stats to the vote leaders, he is matching them well in the HR numbers, but he lacks in the total extra base hit department. He is drawing walks at a higher rate, which has put his OBP in the same range, but the SLG is down 100 points. ARod has had an amazing career, but this is not an all star year for the third baseman.

 

#4. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays 1,688,509

Before a major injury sidelined his season before the thirty game mark, Longo was on pace to be better than any third baseman in the league. He had drawn one less walk in that time than Beltre has all season and he had more doubles than ARod has compiled. His AVG, OBP, and SLG would be at the top of the list for AL third basemen, but he hasn't played in over a month and probably will not be ready for the all-star game either way. His BABIP was way up, so it is conceivable he may have tailed off a bit. Here is a look at that heat map.

23 G, 82 AB, 15 R,  27 H, 7 2b, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, 15 BB, 17 SO, .329 AVG, .433 OBP, .561 SLG

I'm a huge Longoria fan, and I hope he tears it up in the second half.

 

Wild Card: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

Readers must understand that he is not the everyday third baseman and has played more of a DH role, but I believe he is worthy of consideration here. He has 21 HRs! That ranks him near the top of the league, nevermind among 3rd basemen. Also, his .572 SLG ranks him fifth in the American League. His power numbers versus southpaws has been unreal, with a .371 ISO.

It's almost as if anything in the zone is getting hit for extra bases with this guy. If you don't believe it, look at the numbers:

71 G, 269 PA, 44 R, 77 H, 14 2b, 21 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB, 28 BB, 53 SO, .286 BA, .361 OBP, .572 SLG

This guy has been revitalized. If he can continue this pace throughout the year, the Blue Jays will have quite a formidable lineup with Encarnacion hitting behind Bautista.

 

Results

1. Adrian Beltre

2. Miguel Cabrera

3. Edwin Encarnacion (due to less starts at 3b)

4. ARod

5. Brett Lawrie (Encarnacion's teammate and starting Blue Jays Third Baseman is having a good year)