Pictured: My all-time favorite Alex Rodriguez moment, his game-tying home run in Game 2 of the ALDS off Nathan
Much has been made of Mark Teixeira’s slow start this year, and rightfully so. Teixeira was an offensive vortex in the three hole for the entire month of April, posting a .136/.300/.259 line. But while Teixeira’s struggles received a lot of attention, it’s worth noting that Alex Rodriguez has had a bit of a peculiar and underwhelming start to the year as well.
So far, Rodriguez is hitting .272 with a .361 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage. This is well below his career average of .304/.389/.573. There’s no need to panic, though. Firstly, the difference in his batting average can largely be explained by a BABIP of .290, which sits about 30 points below his career average of .321. That’s right, the Gods of BABIP have been robbing him of some hits. The good news is that his line-drive percentage is 19.1%, a tick higher than his career average of 18.3%. This means that he’s still hitting balls with the same authority that he has in the past, but just isn’t seeing them fall in for hits. The only troubling sign is that his ground-ball percentage has crept up slightly (45.5% vs. a career average of 41.9%) at the expense of his fly-ball percentage (35.5% vs. a career average of 39.9%). This isn’t a huge trend, especially given his LD%, but it bears watching going forward. ARod’s lower OBP appears to be driven by his troubles with BABIP as well, as his walk rate currently sits at 12.2%, 1% higher than his career average. So as some of those line drives start falling in for hits, Rodriguez’s average and on-base percentage should rise back up to his career norms.
From a power perspective, it’d be easy to say that Rodriguez is experiencing an outage. His slugging percentage is .440, the lowest he’s notched since 1995 when he played 41 games with the Mariners, and his ISO (SLG-AVG) .168, a full hundred points lower than his career average. Is there a reason to fret? I’d say no, for this reason:
[image title="rodriguez batted ball data" size="full" id="17817" align="center" linkto="full" ]
Anything in 2010 stand out to you? Anything at all? How about his HR/FB ratio, which is an incredible 15.7% lower than his career average? This is an outlier, pure and simple, and you don’t need a Masters in Statistics to know that it ought to regress to the mean, given that other relevant metrics like LD% have stayed static. Additionally, ARod has cut his strikeouts down so far in 2010, from 14.4% in 2010. In sum, Rodriguez is going to be fine. He’s walking more, striking out less, and hitting the ball with just as much force as he has in the past. As his fly balls start leaving the park and avoid the glove of Brennan Boesch, and as some of his line drives turn into singles and doubles, we ought to see his AVG, OBP and SLG fall right back into line. It would be OK with me if that process started tonight.
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