Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Appreciating Alex
2005-02-04 13:32
by Alex Belth

Steven Goldman has a fine appreciation of Alex Rodriguez, and the third baseman's impressive 2004 campaign in the most recent edition of The Pinstriped Bible. Looking at the numbers, maybe Rodriguez didn't have an off-season after all:

The funny thing about Rodriguez having something to prove is that in 2004 he was largely consistent with his own standards and probably turned in the best offensive/defensive season ever by a Yankees third baseman. The first thing to note is that Yankee Stadium is a much tougher hitter's park than Ameriquest Field in Arlington. The park formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington gifts right-handed hitters with a lot of home runs. Yankee Stadium doesn't do much for hitters at all, other than giving a mild boost to left-handed home run hitters. Decades after the left field "Death Valley" has shrunken to what Bill James called "Life Support Valley," the ballpark in the Bronx is still a pitcher's best friend.

At home, Rodriguez hit a good-but-not-stunning .280/.365/.492. On the road he batted .293/.386/.534, which is what he had been doing in neutral parks all along. As a Ranger in 2003, he batted .282/.384/.577 on the road but bulked up to .314/.407/.652 at home. Yankee Stadium doesn't do that for anyone. It's the Joe DiMaggio story writ small.

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