Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conversation: Why Alex Rodriguez is done

For people who follow baseball statistics like I do, most you know that Alex Rodriguez is not only past his prime, but he is in a decline that is similar to teammate Derek Jeter's in term of how fast he is declining, and it is pretty fast. A-Rod is now 35 and turns 36 in July. At this age, you are typically way past your prime as a baseball player and A-Rod is no exception. Rodriguez last year had the worst season of his career and does not show really any sign of bouncing back.

He hit with a line of .270/.341/.506 as well as a .363 wOBA. Those were all career lows for A-Rod. His batting eye has also gotten worse. In 2010, his O-Swing% went up from his 20.9% career mark to 25.3%, needless to say, that was still better then the league average. A-Rod's walk rate plummeted last year to 9.9% from 15% in 2009. His ISO has been a problem too: it has been dropping since 2007 and last year, that trend continued. He posted a .236 ISO compared to a .269 career ISO. Now, you could argue and say that A-Rod's ISO in 2006 was .233, but he posted that number at the age of 30. He was still in his prime and could easily recover from that down number (recover indeed! He had a .331 ISO in 2007).

But perhaps A-Rod's biggest sign that he is not what he used to be is his BABIP. His BABIP in 2010 was just .274. That is, by a decent amount, the lowest BABIP of his career. And it was not that he got un-lucky, no, it is because his actual hitting ability is diminishing. To back this up, take a look at his line drive rate. His career line drive rate is 17.8% and in 2009, it was 20%. Yet it dropped to a mere 13.8%. His ground ball rate is also getting worse: career: 42.2%. 2010: 46%. His fly ball to ground ball ratio was .88 in 2010 compared to multiple seasons on a row of somewhere in the .70 range.

Alex Rodriguez after hitting his 600 career home run on August 4th, 2010, becoming the player ever to do so. He hit it off  Blue Jays (now Brewers) starter Shawn Marcum.
Next year is going to be tough for Alex. I am not saying that he is bad, not at all. A-Rod is still very productive at the plate and should still be a nice bat to have in the lineup next year. But this not the A-Rod that we are used to seeing, correct?

I wish I could say that this is all false and that he is going to bounce back from this year (and 2009 (forget the injury)) and say that he is going to hit 55 homers and have a .330 average and a .470 OBP. Trust me, as a Yankee fan myself, I am EXTREMELY worried that the Yanks are gonna have an old man who can't run or hit the ball like he used to and to a point where his numbers next year should look something like this: .265/.340/.485. He might hit some where around 25 homers and steal probably one base.

Then again, Yankee's hitting coach, Kevin Long, will probably figure out some way to bring A-Rod back a little bit as he did last year with him near the end of the season.

This whole situation makes that 10-year contract that he is signed to look very scary.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com, espn.com and baseball-reference.com)

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