• A-Rod Stats: They’re Magically Delicious!

    Posted by on July 24th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    I was just looking at Alex Rodriguez’ Yankees career, to date, via some of the advanced metrics that they track over at TheHardballTimes.com:

    ARodTHT.jpg

    These numbers are very interesting to me.

    First, A-Rod, this year, is doing what he’s always done in terms of looking at pitches in the box (P/PA). And, his BA/RISP is the same this year as the year he won the MVP (2005). Also, Alex is hitting line-drives (LD%) this year at the same pace as last year. (Actually, it’s a tick better this year.)

    But, the results are not there this season for Alex – like in his Yankees MVP-season. A-Rod’s Gross Production Average (GPA) and RC/G numbers this year are more like 2004 than 2005. Why?

    If you look at Alex’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BA/BIP) this year, you will see that it’s just like 2004 – and not like 2005. Also, Rodriguez’ Home Runs as a percent of outfield flyballs (HR/F) this season is the same as 2004 – and not like 2005.

    Basically, this season, the hits are not falling in for A-Rod and the flies are not going over the fence – like they did in 2005.

    So, is Alex just unlucky this year?

    Well, if you consider that the 2004 numbers here are in line with the 2006 numbers, it means one of two things (I suppose):

    Either A-Rod was unlucky in 2004 and 2006 (to date). Or, he was lucky (relatively speaking) in 2005.

    I don’t know which is the answer. I will try and get another opinion (or two) on the interpretation of this data, from parties more versed in this type of analysis, to see if there’s an answer here. Stay tuned.

    Comments on A-Rod Stats: They’re Magically Delicious!

    1. July 24th, 2006 | 12:51 pm

      Steve, you might like the A-Rod table on this page:

      http://www.baseballgraphs.com/battedballs/NYY.html

      A-Rod is second from the top. It looks like 2004 was an off year for him, as is this year, compare to the other three years. The key appears to be in the line drive numbers, where his net runs per line drive were higher than .4 in all other years, but only .26 in 2004.

      You could say this is luck, but my sense would be that A-Rod just isn’t hitting the ball as hard this year, based on what he’s getting out of his line drives and his HR/F ratio. He’s still hitting line drives and flies, but not as hard.

      One of my plans is to update those tables with 2006 data.

    2. July 24th, 2006 | 3:03 pm

      FYI, here’s some more feedback that I got on this one:

      “A-Rod is past his prime. He’s coming down from his peak production in a park that doesn’t favor him. In 2004 and 2006 we’re seeing the A-Rod of the future; great but not an MVP. We may very well see a couple of 2005 seasons again, but more and more we’ll see age taking it’s toll.”

      and:

      “The hitter does have more control over those things.” – meaning BA/BIP, etc.

      and

      “Hitters have a lot more control over their BABIP than pitchers do. Thus A-Rod simply may not be hitting the ball as well/hard as he has in the past, as opposed to being unlucky.”

    3. July 24th, 2006 | 3:36 pm

      More feedback, via e-mail, on this:

      “Rodriguez’s 25.0% in 2005 does seem really high in comparision to 2004 and 2006. But, as to whether he just got lucky, I don’t know. I would need to know things like what are normal rates for different HR levels. We don’t know what his rates were during his 50+ HR seasons. I don’t know what a typical HR figure would be for someone who has a HR/F rate of approximately 20% or what a typical HR/F rate is for someone who is on an approximate 35-40 HR pace, like Rodriguez is.”

    4. jonm
      July 24th, 2006 | 6:19 pm

      “A-Rod is past his prime. He’s coming down from his peak production in a park that doesn’t favor him. In 2004 and 2006 we’re seeing the A-Rod of the future; great but not an MVP. We may very well see a couple of 2005 seasons again, but more and more we’ll see age taking it’s toll.”

      This quote strikes me as obvious. He is past 30 (the start of a tradional post-peak period) after all, but a great player who may have a couple of MVP-calibre seasons left in him is most definitely a player that a team does not trade.

    5. July 24th, 2006 | 11:49 pm

      I would recommend reading a substantial increase in HR/F rate as indicative that the player is genuinely hitting the ball harder all around. HR/F is about as luck-free as a hitting stat can possibly get and is also as pure an indicator of how hard the ball is being hit as we have access to. Once the ball is up in the air if it is hit hard enough it is gone, if not, it isn’t.

      If you read it like that you can tamper some of the luck out of the question. We would expect harder hit fly balls to translate to harder hit line drives and ground balls and into slightly increased. I don’t know that this covers all of the difference between 2005 and 2006 but, as a quick estimate, I wouldn’t be surprised if a 5% increase in HR/F accounted for a .020 or .025 increase in BA on BIP.

    6. Raf
      July 25th, 2006 | 6:51 am

      Interesting comments, guys

    7. July 25th, 2006 | 9:44 am

      Thanks for the input Johnson.

      I got some more e-mails on this today. I will post there here soon.

    8. July 25th, 2006 | 9:48 am

      Here’s some interesting feedback via e-mail:

      “Take a look at his splits on ESPN. Pretty consistent since he became a Yankee.

      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?statsId=5275&type=batting&year=2006

      Look back year by year. Remarkable the way his April and July are his average, his May great his June under his norm.

      ALSO, he usually hits the heck out of the pitchers ESPN types as “finesse”. This year though, less than the others (“power”). COmbine that with the number you gave of somewhat fewer P/PA, it looks like he’s nibbling early a few more times, and as a result he’s both hitting more LDs but also being less effective overall.

      **PERHAPS**

      he’s pushing a little, trying to overcome the venom by delivering, hitting more first pitch strikes. I haven’t looked at his production for various counts; you might if you want to delve deeper. But he seems to be working the count a little differently.”

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