The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

 

What's Eating A-Rod?

For the Baseball Prospectus/ESPN Insider soup du jour, I join forces with Will Carroll to examine Alex Rodriguez's struggles, which saw him benched for Friday and Saturday's games amid an 8-for-55 June swoon that dragged his overall line down to .212/.370/.462. Here's a taste:
The schadenfreudians might believe that Rodriguez is receiving a cosmic comeuppance for his sins, but the slugger's statistical line suggests his slump is nothing extraordinary, except perhaps in the context of his extraordinary career. His .250 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) is 22 points below his career mark, but about the same distance above two of his five full seasons in pinstripes. It surpasses all but 24 batting title qualifiers, not that A-Rod himself has enough plate appearances to qualify. He's homered in 5.4 percent of his PA, which would rank ninth among qualifiers, though it would be the fifth-lowest of his career.

The 33-year-old superstar's real problem is that the hits aren't falling in. Prior to his benching, Rodriguez's batting average on balls in play was .192, 128 points below his career mark and 10 points below the lowest qualifier, Jay Bruce. Upon closer inspection, he's hit line drives — which result in hits far more frequently than any other type — on just 14.8 percent of his balls in play, well below last year's 18.1 percent. Meanwhile, his groundball rate has risen significantly. Using BP Idol contestant Brian Cartwright's BABIP estimator (15 * FB% + .24 * GB% + .73 * LD%) with the Baseball Info Solutions-based data available at Fangraphs around which he designed that formula (instead of our own MLB Advanced Media-based data, which differs somewhat), we can see how askew his results are:
Year    LD%    GB%    FB%  eBABIP  BABIP    dif
2002 19.0 38.1 42.9 .294 .292 -.002
2003 22.8 38.8 38.4 .317 .309 -.008
2004 15.5 45.2 39.3 .281 .313 .032
2005 15.6 44.8 39.7 .281 .349 .068
2006 18.1 42.3 39.6 .293 .329 .036
2007 16.9 41.1 41.9 .285 .315 .030
2008 18.1 42.0 39.9 .293 .332 .039
2009 14.8 46.3 38.9 .278 .192 -.086
Total 17.9 41.8 40.2 .291 .315 .024
Because BABIP is so unstable, the formula isn't terribly accurate given one season's worth of data; Cartwright notes that the annual root mean square error for hitters is 36 points. Even so, while A-Rod may be making solid contact less frequently, his batted ball distribution isn't so out of whack that it should produce a sub-.200 BABIP. Decreased foot speed from aging or injury doesn't explain the dip, either; he's produced infield hits on about eight percent of groundballs since 2002, but just four percent this year — a shortfall of two hits.

Indeed, his numbers could simply be the product of bad luck in a small sample size. Such low BABIPs over the course of exactly 165 PA aren't uncommon, with 86 hitters—many of them accomplished sluggers—enduring such stretches since Opening Day 2007, including eight this year...
Meanwhile, Will takes the medhead approach to discuss how little we know about the wave of hip procedures that have been done on hitters lately (Chase Utley, Mike Lowell, Alex Gordon, Carlos Delgado) because the latter two aren't even back in action yet. Elsewhere at BP, Will cited Pete Abraham's piece from last week about the Yankees' failure to follow the plan for A-Rod. Here's Pete:
According to Rodriguez, the plan put in place by Philippon and Lindsay was for him to take 5-8 games off during his first 45 games back with the team. Not 45 days, 45 games.

But over the first 38 games he was back, A-Rod sat out zero games. He started every one of them, 35 of them at third base. Day games after night games, rain-delayed games, every single game.

A-Rod said he fought to stay in games, which is what he supposed to do. Knowing him, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did. But why didn’t the Yankees stick with the plan their doctors drew up? All of a sudden a third baseman with a high school education knew better than the two best doctors in their respective fields? Of course Alex said he wanted to play. What else would he say?

Joe Girardi admitted yesterday that he should have given Alex more days off than he did. It appears that Brian Cashman finally forced the issue yesterday. But he should have made that call a week ago. A-Rod has been struggling for three weeks now. His June slugging percentage is .291. Teams have been intentionally walking other players to get to him.
It simply amazes me how the team has handled their priciest asset, and it speaks ill of Brian Cashman that he hasn't secured a better backup to cover for Rodriguez on his much-needed off days. Meanwhile, Angel Fucking Berroa languishes on the roster hitting .136/.174/.182. That's a one-fucking-thirty-six average with a three-fucking-fifty-six OPS in case you can't see the numbers because they're so small. Berroa hasn't been a useful major leaguer since 2003. That's gross general managerial malpractice, right there. As is having Brett Tomko on the roster, but that's a story for another day.

Labels: , ,


Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

Archives

June 2001   July 2001   August 2001   September 2001   October 2001   November 2001   December 2001   January 2002   February 2002   March 2002   April 2002   May 2002   June 2002   July 2002   August 2002   September 2002   October 2002   November 2002   December 2002   January 2003   February 2003   March 2003   April 2003   May 2003   June 2003   July 2003   August 2003   September 2003   October 2003   November 2003   December 2003   January 2004   February 2004   March 2004   April 2004   May 2004   June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]