• Meet Pudge Rodriguez

    Posted by on July 30th, 2008 · Comments (9)

    As you may know, according to his book “Juiced,” Jose Canseco claims that he introduced Ivan Rodriguez to PED usage – back when Canseco was traded to the Texas Rangers (where Ivan became his teammate).

    So, let’s take a look at the newest Yankee, Ivan Rodriguez, in terms of his Offensive Winning Percentage – before he met Jose Canseco, after he met Jose Canseco, and after MLB came up with a PED policy that included suspensions.

    In case you’re not aware, a player’s Offensive Winning Percentage equals the percentage of games a team would win with nine of that player in its lineup, given average pitching and defense. (The formula is the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs, divided by the sum of the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs and the square of the league average of runs per game.)

    Ivan’s Offensive Winning Percentage, before Jose Canseco supposedly introduced him to PEDs: .366 (in 742 PA) from 1991 to 1992 (at which time Rodriguez reportedly weighed 165 pounds).

    Ivan’s Offensive Winning Percentage, after Jose Canseco supposedly introduced him to PEDs: .560 (in 6,473 PA) from 1993 to 2004 (at which time Rodriguez reportedly weighed 215 pounds).

    Ivan’s Offensive Winning Percentage, after after MLB came up with a PED policy that included suspensions: .428 (in 1,948 PA) from 2005 to today (at which time Rodriguez reportedly weighs 187 pounds).

    Interesting, huh? Pudge Rodriguez was a “losing” hitter, in terms of his Offensive Winning Percentage, before he met Canseco. After Jose Canseco supposedly showed him how to use PEDs, Pudge Rodriguez became a “winning” hitter. And, once MLB had a PED policy with teeth, Pudge Rodriguez became a “losing” hitter again. So, draw your own conclusions from all of this…

    But, all of that is in the past, right? This season, to date, Ivan Rodriguez has an Offensive Winning Percentage of .463 (in 328 PA). Yes, that’s still a loser. But, it’s a lot better than the Offensive Winning Percentage of .230 – yes, two-thirty – that Jose Molina has fashioned for the Yankees so far this year. And, that’s why the Yankees are happy to replace Molina with Rodriguez – not because Pudge is a good hitter…more so, because, Molina is a terrible hitter.

    How about defense? We know that Jose Molina is a very good defensive catcher. How about Pudge? Is it all rep, or, is he really that good behind the dish?

    Well, in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2008, Tom Tango looked at 167 catchers who were behind the plate for at least 15,000 batters since 1957 – and figured out who were the best, relatively speaking, in terms of defense. And, for guys who caught in nine seasons or more, Pudge Rodriguez was the best – followed by Rick Dempsey, Jim Sundberg, Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Bob Boone, Brad Ausmus, Lance Parrish, and Thurman Munson.

    However, Tom Tango noted that Pudge Rodriguez got most of his “points” for controlling the running game – and was not great in the preventing wild pitches or passed balls department. (Rodriguez’ issue with blocking pitches has also been noted in a study by Dan Turkenkopf done earlier this year.)

    So, it’s not as if Ivan Rodriguez is a great defensive catcher in terms of receiving the ball – he’s only great in terms of throwing it.

    This all said…I would recommend that the Yankees, and their fans, expect “this” from Pudge over the next two months (while he’s in New York): Twice as much offense as Molina provided – but not great production – and about the same value as Molina in terms of throwing out runners (but not as much value as Molina in terms of blocking pitches).

    Comments on Meet Pudge Rodriguez

    1. Joel
      July 31st, 2008 | 8:17 am

      You also have to take into account the ripple effects of having Molina as the backup instead of Moeller. And, that after Pudge is lost to free agency the Yanks will be compensated for losing an A-level free agent rather than a B-level (Farnsworth).

      What will be interesting is to see how Pudge fits in to a veteran team full of stars. Pudge strikes me a strong personality. I’m used to seeing him as an intense, on-the-field leader of a young-ish team. I’ll be watching to see what kind of leadership role he takes, and how he meshes with the chemistry of this team.

    2. antone
      July 31st, 2008 | 8:21 am

      I think the Yankees only get prospects for Pudge if they offer him arbitration and he declines right? He would probably accept it and screw us. Of course he could see that Posada is going to be the catcher(hopefully) and decline it so he can get more playing time somewhere else.

      FWIW, I’ve always thought Pudge was someone who seems to rub people the wrong way.

    3. MJ
      July 31st, 2008 | 8:23 am

      How anyone can paint this trade as anything but positive is beyond me. It will essentially become Farnsworth/Moeller for [Bruney/Britton]/Rodriguez. What’s not to like about moving Jose Molina to the backup role, where he’s far more suitable as a pure catch-and-throw guy?

      All this OWP crap is irrelevant and just a statistical way to obscure the most obvious answer to the question: are the Yanks better off with Molina/Moeller or Rodriguez/Molina?

    4. MJ
      July 31st, 2008 | 8:24 am

      …that after Pudge is lost to free agency the Yanks will be compensated for losing an A-level free agent rather than a B-level (Farnsworth).
      ————————————-
      Pudge is a guaranteed Type-A free agent at the end of the year. I’m not 100% sure that Farnsworth is a Type-B free agent. Isn’t it based on a composite of the past three seasons? If so, ’06 and ’07 were hideous for Kyle. So the upshot is a guaranteed two draft picks vs. MAYBE getting one pick.

    5. July 31st, 2008 | 8:35 am

      ~~All this OWP crap is irrelevant and just a statistical way to obscure the most obvious answer to the question: are the Yanks better off with Molina/Moeller or Rodriguez/Molina?~~

      Did you miss the part where I wrote:

      “And, that’s why the Yankees are happy to replace Molina with Rodriguez – not because Pudge is a good hitter…more so, because, Molina is a terrible hitter.”

      ?

    6. July 31st, 2008 | 9:59 am

      I’ve always believed that Pudge was a steroid user. When the shit started hitting the fan he suddenly became the incredibly shrinking man. Still a good deal for the Yankees though.

    7. Joel
      July 31st, 2008 | 10:26 am

      I would imagine that the Yanks would offer Pudge arbitration and that he will decline. He is a Boras client after all.

    8. unfrozencavemanyankee
      July 31st, 2008 | 10:37 am

      You can pick out ludicrous geek-stats like “OWP” to “prove” Pudge is a poor hitter. Of course, that stat says nothing about what position a player plays, or what you are asking him to do. We are not looking to add 9 Pudge’s or to have him hit cleanup. For this team, and for what we are asking, he is a very good player and a huge upgrade. Thus, his “OWP” is irrelevant (BTW, what’s his VORP and his Pecota?)

    9. July 31st, 2008 | 11:04 am

      ~~You can pick out ludicrous geek-stats like “OWP” to “prove” Pudge is a poor hitter. Of course, that stat says nothing about what position a player plays, or what you are asking him to do.~~

      Well, if you just want someone to “catch” then Molina is great – you won’t get someone better with the leather, and throwing, behind the plate – than him. So, you want Pudge for his bat.

      And, that’s why I looked at OWP. But, you could look at RCAA, or OPS+, or anything else that adjusts for park factors, league, etc., and it will tell you that Pudge is a poor hitter.

      But, he’s still a better hitter than Molina..as I wrote.

      Just remember…again, why I used OWP…

      …once you step into the batter’s box, you’re a hitter, and you should not be given extra credit (or lose something) because of the position you play in the field when you are not batting.

      Giving someone “extra” or an “adjusted” offensive value is his relative batting results because of his position in the field implies that just playing that position in the field provides a batting benefit to his team.

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