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).