A-Rod Singled Out—And It’s Totally Fair
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on June 5, 2012.
Alex Rodriguez is hitting a dismal .170 with runners in scoring position this season.
Alex Rodriguez isn’t the only Yankee exuding ineffectiveness with runners in scoring position, but he is garnering the most attention.
Perhaps it’s because he is the only one making $30 million.
Yes, Rodriguez had two home runs in Detroit, a series the Yankees won largely due to Phil Hughes’ stellar performance in his first career complete game. But, both homers proved to be superfluous when factored into the final score of each game.
Lately it seems like the sum total of A-Rod’s offensive production is comprised of bases-empty singles and lead-padding home runs. This season, he is batting .346 with the bases empty, compared to a microscopic .111 with the bases loaded. With runners in scoring position in general, he hasn’t been much better at .170.
How atypical are these numbers for the future Hall-of-Famer? His career average with the bases juiced is .343, and, historically it has been the situation in which he has thrived the most.
Rodriguez’s hitting in decidedly un-clutch situations is what’s keeping his average at an adequate .284. His numbers are considerably down in nearly every category, including the much-ballyhooed slugging percentage (calculated by dividing total bases by at-bats). Currently, A-Rod’s slugging percentage is .447, down more than 100 points from his career average.
In recent interviews, Rodriguez has played off his lack of productivity by resorting to his “less-is-more” and “one day at a time” approaches. Take for instance, his quote in the Daily News from last week, a day after going 3-for-4 with three singles and a hit-by-pitch in a 5-1 loss to the Angels: “If I get a night like that where I’m on base four times, I’ll take that all day long…that is, to me, the equivalent of hitting a couple of doubles or a home run.”
As impressive as A-Rod’s math skills are, I find this self-justifying hypothesis to be a bit problematic. Here Rodriguez is, in essence, saying that the final score of the game doesn’t matter, as long as his individual batting average and on-base percentage stay in the realm of what is considered respectable.
Adequate? Respectable? These are words we should be using to describe, perhaps, the performance of a man making a modest salary in his profession. Certainly not thirty mil.
And those are not the words we have used to describe A-Rod, who has spent the majority of his career in a league of his own. Last week, a caller on Boomer and Carton wanted to know why A-Rod is constantly vilified for his lack of production this season, while Nick Swisher seemingly gets away with it. The radio hosts promptly told the caller that it was, simply put, because of one word: expectations. With Swisher, a career .250-ish hitter, you’re getting exactly what it says on the back of his baseball card. Not so with A-Rod.
The Yankees have invested a lot of money in Alex Rodriguez and their lofty expectations for him, and there are still five years to go on his contract. In order for obstinate Yankee fans to find some solace, one of two things has to happen in the near future. Either A-Rod needs to begin taking his duties as cleanup hitter seriously and find a way to boost his productivity without making excuses, or we need to lower our expectations as his chronological age creeps up.
Guess which one Yankee fans will expect to happen first?