I was just looking at some of Alex Rodriguez’ “splits” to date – and this jumped out at me:
When A-Rod faces a pitcher for the first time in a game, he’s terrible.
Really. When facing a pitcher for the first time in a game, Rodriguez whiffs nearly one-third of the time – and when he manages to make contact he’s batting a whopping .197.
But, when Alex faces a pitcher in a game for the second time, or more, he’s superhuman. (Here, we’re talking about an OPS of greater than one superhuman.)
So, what is it about fresh pitchers that A-Rod doesn’t like?
If I had to guess, on average, I would say that a pitcher has his best velocity and control when he’s first in a game. And, with these skills, I want to assume that a pitcher can get his fastball in a good spot on Alex – say, up and in. (Based on watching games this season, it does appear that anything with some speed, up and in, is the pitch that Rodriguez struggles with – most of the time.)
This makes me wonder – is Alex Rodriguez now the type of hitter who can be pitched to, if you have your stuff and command, and who will only crush a mistake?
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Many hitters have had great careers with this approach: Make your pitch, beat me. Don’t make your pitch, I beat you.
But, typically, these types of hitters, on very good teams, tend to bat lower in the line-up – somewhere around the range of 6th or 7th.
You know the type of hitter and the range we’re talking about here. If not, think “Jorge Posada.”
In fact, this season (to date) A-Rod has 19 RCAA in 561 PA while Posada has 14 RCAA in 445 PA. That’s pretty close, no?
Maybe it’s time to move Alex Rodriguez down in the line-up (at least until he proves that he can hit good “pitcher’s pitches” again)?
Maybe Torre should use Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Giambi and then someone – and bat A-Rod 6th? Of course, the question is “Who’s someone?”
This is where the Yankees miss Matsui and/or Sheffield.
It appears that the Yankees have no other option now than to bat Alex Rodriguez in the top five of the line-up – and just hope that pitchers make mistakes against him (and that he takes care of them when they do).