Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Peg o My Heart
2008-08-13 06:32
by Alex Belth

Alex Rodriguez is having another fine season, but his lack of production with runners in scoring position has been a glaring weakness (a couple of days ago, SG had an informative post on Yankee clutch-hitting). For his career, Rodriguez is .302/.403/.553 with runners in scoring position. Still, over at Dugout Central, John Paciorek has some thoughts as to how Rodriguez can be even better:

Let's compare Rodriguez to Barry Bonds and [Albert] Pujols and see if we can figure out what's going on.

Rodriguez does something that the other two don't (or potentially in the case of Bonds "didn't") – and the result is that he has a larger margin for error. This error margin is what holds him back from being even better.

When Bonds bats, his front foot hardly lifts off the ground. It moves just slightly forward while Bonds keeps his head and eyes perfectly still and maintains a low center of gravity. Pujols only lifts the heel of his front foot, while staying balanced and low. One result is maximized visual acuity. Another is the ability to get the front foot properly planted when it's time to attack the ball with the synergistic forces of the legs, hips, shoulders, arms and hands. Very seldom can a pitcher catch either Bonds or Pujols off balance enough to disrupt their swing.

Rodriguez is different. His stance begins balanced, low and stable. But as the pitcher releases the ball, Rodriguez starts an obtrusive attack with what I'm sure he thinks is a precise timing mechanism to generate a power surge. It isn't and it doesn't. What happens is that Rodriguez lifts his front foot high off the ground while he waits in suspended animation to detect the speed, direction and nuances of the pitch before he abruptly lunges forward and down to plant the foot so as to begin the swing. If the plant is too early, he's out in front of the pitch and loses much of his power. If he is late with the plant, the fast ball is by him.

There wasn't anybody on last night in the 12th inning when Rodriguez hit the go-ahead homer. No matter, it was a much-needed shot in the arm for both the team and Rodriguez, especially on a night when Mariano Rivera blew his first save of the year and Hank Steinbrenner all but conceeded the season.

2008-08-13 07:12:02
1.   vockins
Mea Maxima Culpa for the spam, but if you're in NYC on Friday and you're not waiting with bated breath for the KC game, check out Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars at Damrosch Park right next to Lincoln Center at 7:00.

We had our first rehearsal last night. It should be something else.

And it's free.

2008-08-13 07:16:21
2.   JL25and3
And John Paciorek should know. He's the greatest hitter in baseball history, career stats unmatched by anyone:
2008-08-13 08:02:52
3.   Shaun P
Dugout Central . . . isn't that Pags's site?

I understand stats, and know enough to recognize bs when I see it, even if its a veteran baseball scribe (say, Murray Chass) doing the writing. But when it comes to the mechanics, I stay away. I feel lost when I read this kind of thing, because I have no way to evaluate it. This guy might be full of it (who knows more, him or A-Rod?), or he might really have something here (I remember when Posada told Moose about his change-up last year).

2008-08-13 08:15:05
4.   Raf
Whatever the case may be, ARod has alternated great years with very good years since his MVP season in 03. At 6 years, I guess you can say that some sort of pattern he has developed.
2008-08-13 08:19:10
5.   OldYanksFan
John Paciorek is AWESOME!
Why can't we get a guy like that??!!??

But I have issues!
(OK... I won't bore you with them, so lets talk baseball)

ARod HAD a much higher foot-lift until last year. He still has one, but it was worked on and now it's much lessened. He attributed his success in 2007 to this change.

However, is John saying ARod ONLY does this, or does it to a greater degree, with RISP? His OPS is about 1.000, but with RISP only .800. So he must be doing something DIFFERENT with RISP (if you believe the 109 AB sample size is valid) to account for this. (His Runners on OPS, 179 AB is .865)

If he is not doing something different mechanically, they maybe.... maybe it's in his head? Possible for ARod?

Personally, I feel he's thinking if he doesn't come through, he will NOT get an invite from Jeter for a sleepover. This is still very disturbing for ARod. Others believe he is simply feeling pressure to live up to his hype, his image, his contract, and the fact that maybe he SHOULD carry this team (he shouldn't). Maybe it's the fact that the more you think about anything other then 'I'm not gonna let this shitty pitcher beat me', the better your odds of getting beat.

I feel sorry for ARod. I think Pujols, Bonds and the other greats understand and except the fact that you can't always come through. They understand that failure is 2/3rds of the game. And while ARod might understand this intellectually, he does not get it viscerally. In his gut, he honestly feels 'it always comes down to ARod'.

10 years. $270 million. Plus bonuses.
Nobody... NOBODY can live up to that.
ARod needs to stop trying.

2008-08-13 08:25:42
6.   OldYanksFan
By the way, ARods RISP was higher then his OPS in 2002, 2006 and 2007. It was lower in 2003-2005 and this year. As Alex points out, for his entire career, it's 12 points lower.

Maybe it's just RCNB?

2008-08-13 08:27:46
7.   JL25and3
5 "I feel sorry for ARod. "
"10 years. $270 million. Plus bonuses."
2008-08-13 08:40:01
8.   OldYanksFan
Hammering Hank Steinbrenner says:
"We're going to win it next year," he said. "If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, we'll do that. We'll do whatever we need to do. Next year we'll be extremely dangerous."


2008-08-13 08:48:51
9.   Chyll Will
5 Why can't we get a guy like this? A disposable singles hitter that drives in a run in each at bat. Weeping would love this guy; no wasteful, un-clutchy HRs here.

But the problem is, he would only be able to do it once. We'd have to buy in bulk (lots of emergency puddings there... >;)

(Come to think of it, half the roster now seems like it's made up of emergency puddings...)

2008-08-13 08:51:50
10.   Ace Rothstein
it's def his head. The classic A-rod strike out being - look at a 91mph fast ball on the outer half for strike 1, get beat on a good pitch inside for strike 2, slider outside or fast ball away and off the plate for strike 3.

when u look at strikes and swing at balls its mental - its forgetting your strike zone because instead ur thinking: i wanna crush this next pitch and win the game.

the fact that this becomes more apparent and is reflected in a lower performance with RISP - merely confirms that assertion.

furthermore - think about A-rod as a person - (from the version we know of him through comments, interviews, and public actions) He's self absorbed, but knows he should appear modest (even though he doesn't and ends up feeling guilty about it). Also he's been near perfect his whole life - but he's cerebral/sensitive enough to realize how hard perfection is to achieve and to lose confidence in himself - and so he's stuck in mental conflict between reality (knowing perfection is impossible) and idealism (wanting and believing at times that he can be the best baseball player to ever live) - which is why he looks at strikes and swings are balls.

2008-08-13 08:53:05
11.   Chyll Will
8 ...and Tex. Never underestimate the need for an actual first baseman (not one by committee or default)...
2008-08-13 09:02:36
12.   Schteeve
Alex Rodriguez puts up MVP caliber numbers or is at least in the discussion like, every year. But yeah, he should really ditch that lame ass leg kick. I think A-Rod out slugged Pujols by like 80 points last year in a league with better pitching. What a LOOOOOOO-ser.
2008-08-13 09:03:08
13.   Bama Yankee
It was nice to see A-Rod, I-Rod & the X-man come through last night so I could finally get some Z's...
2008-08-13 09:05:43
14.   Schteeve
13 I see what you did there.
2008-08-13 09:15:09
15.   williamnyy23
Yes...Arod definitely has to abandon that silly leg kick or he'll never stick around in the big leagues.

Was that supposed to be comedy?

2008-08-13 09:15:55
16.   Shaun P
10 That's the second time someone here has made the claim that there's a sequence of 3 pitches that A-Rod (always) strikes out on.

Are youe basing your "classic A-Rod strikeout sequence" off your impressions and memory, or data about pitch sequence, location, etc? If its the data, please share, because I'm really interested in finding out whether its true or not.

8 Unless CC Sabathia would prefer to pitch for a team that can win, but doesn't play in NYC (or Boston), where the pressure won't always be on (like it is for A-Rod), for tons of money of course.

You did just get through saying that nobody could live up to 10 years, $270M.

2008-08-13 09:37:21
17.   Chyll Will
16 I'm willing to bet that playing the opening season in a brand new stadium in a marquee media market will entice a few impact players. If the media (and fandom) is the biggest problem those types of players have, they won't come for any amount, big or small.

Besides, when do we begin holding the media (and sharing accountability) for the inordinate pressure, if such applies? If pressure kills a once-great player, then we should hold ourselves as much responsible as the players. But it's never OUR fault, so stone the reporters and blow up the TV stations! >;)

2008-08-13 09:44:34
18.   Chyll Will
15 I bet if A-Rod incorporated a can-can into his swing, his OPS+ would go through the roof. Maybe we could bring back El Duque specifically for that purpose...
2008-08-13 09:44:36
19.   liam
who's blog is replacement level yankee?
2008-08-13 11:12:46
20.   Chyll Will
18 I'm just sayin'...

2008-08-13 17:36:28
21.   3rd gen yankee fan
This Hank guy is freakin me out.

"We're going to win it next year..."

NEXT year??? What kind of Yankee attitude is that?

I'm not being unrealistic about this team. I hadn't been convinced that the FO had plans for the playoffs this year. I've just never -- never -- equated the Yankees with a pack-it-in mentality. Not even close.

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