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Damon-Bernie Stat Comparison Brings Arguments and Bad A-Rod Puns
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
After last week’s signing of Johnny Damon and the accompanying stat-chat, I posted a comparison of Bernie's and Damon's OPS throughout their respective careers. The post illustrated the fact that while Bernie’s performance has slowed down over the years, his career performance has been steady and his decline followed a natural progression. On the other hand, however, every year has been up and down for Damon; his 2005 season appears to be the one high note standing out in an otherwise standard above-average career.

The post brought forth several interesting comments on the performances of both Bernie and Damon, but one anonymous reader, possibly personally jilted by A-Rod, thought that it would be wise to analyze the stats of the Bronx’s third baseman:

"The guy whose stats you should analyze is that choke artist A-Fraud"

Alright, Senor Anonymous. Let’s take a gander at A-Fraud’s stats. We better look closely so that we can point and laugh at how much he chokes and what a fraud he is.

Seasons: 12
Career BA: .307
Highest BA: .358, 1996
Lowest BA: .204, in 17 games in 1994; .235 in 1995
Career OBP: .385
Highest OBP: .421, 2005
Lowest OBP: .241, in 17 games in 1994; .264 in 1995
Career OPS: .962
Highest OPS: 1.045, 1996
Lowest OPS: .445, in 17 games in 1994; .672 in 1995
BA with RISP: .304
BA with Bases Loaded: .317
Career Fielding Percentage: .976
Career Errors: 156
Highest Error Season: 1997, 24
Lowest Error Season (Full-Seasons Only): 2003, 8

Looking at these numbers, I have to say that I’m having trouble figuring out how A-Rod might have been fraudulent. His averages are consistently high, his OPS is amazing, and he comes through when it counts - - with runners in scoring position and with the bases loaded.

When Senor Anonymous referenced choking, I assume that what he was referring to A-Rod’s post-season performance.

Post-Season Appearances: 5
At-Bats: 118
BA: .305
OBP: .393
Hits: 36
HR: 6
RBI: 16

The only “choking” I can really see with A-Rod’s post-season performance would obviously have to be the five games he played against the Angels in 2005. He got just two hits in his fifteen at-bats, no RBIs, and struck out five times. I’m certainly not going to say that I wish he would have performed better, but I do think that it’s incorrect and unfair to place all the blame on him. Not to mention the death of his uncle, which occurred right before the start of the ALDS and reportedly affected A-Rod’s ability to play at his fullest potential.

Assuming anyone is still even reading this, tell me: am I wrong? Am I missing something? Perhaps misinterpreting the numbers? Because I’m getting pretty sick of people selling A-Rod short and referring to him as a fraud or a choker. He may be a pretty-boy, and he may care about fashion more than the average high school cheerleader, but he is a damn good athlete and I am quite happy to have him on my team.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, December 28, 2005  
9 Comments:
  • At 9:45 PM, Blogger Patrick Jason said…

    I didn't watch much of the Yankees-Angels playoff series, because I was focused on watching Boston get its arse swept by the White Sox. But even if A-Rod did "Choke" at the plate in the playoffs, keep in mind there are eight other players on the field and in the lineup. One awesome player doesn't make a team great; just look at Kobe with the Lakers.

    As far as A-Rod being into fashion, I thought Armani dropped his modeling contract a few years back.

     
  • At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=2224114

     
  • At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Captain Scurvy said…

    Ahoy there, Yankees Chick. Great blog. You were mentioned over at the RLYW, I investigated, and now here I am.

    The choke and the clutch hit are fairly nebulous domains. Succeeding and failing in important situations certainly helps determine a ballplayer's legacy, but sabermetrics suggests that the results of these specific performances are not useful measures of a player's overall ability.

    A-Rod's numbers with RISP are not appreciably different from his career averages. His post-season numbers are likewise practically the same as his regular-season career averages. The man is consistent.

    I strongly believe that in A-Rod's case critics eager to point to his chokes or failure to "be clutch" point primarily at his money. A capable athlete that is so grossly overpaid and whom is so hyped by the media should absolutely be successful in important specific situations-- even moreso, perhaps, than he is "regularly."

    It's an attractive argument because it lends itself towards the concept of sports heroism that any baseball fan can appreciate. However, it lacks statistical soundness and, ultimately, a solid grounding in reality. A-Rod is batting, not his money and not his hype. Scott Boras and the Texas Rangers ownership created the money. The media blows the hype out of proportion.

    When A-Rod comes to the bat in a critical situation all he brings with him is his lifetime BA of .307. Double his salary. Triple it. His lifetime BA, and his chances of a hit, remain the same.

    "Clutch and Choke" argumentation also generally fails to honor a person when they do succeed. A-Rod's 2004 post-season legacy is not the astounding series he played against the Twins or the potent performance he had in the first three games of the ALDS; it's "the slap." Suddenly a player is expected to succeed in important situations, and when they don't, they have "choked" and are "not clutch." Previous accomplishments are ignored because "when it mattered most" the player failed. It's a circular argument.

    If Yankees fans are looking to assign blame for post-season losses these last two years they should cast their aspersions at the starting rotation and, to a certain extent, the bullpen.

     
  • At 1:25 AM, Anonymous MetsRtehSux0r said…

    I'd like to have something intelligent to add to this, but Scurvy seems to have covered much of it...

    So I'll just say that people can rag on him all they want. I'll continue to proudly wear the number 13 of my metrosexual friend A-Rod. :P

    Well, until I have the money after New Year's to go buy a number 18. :P

     
  • At 9:16 AM, Blogger Karen said…

    Yeah, what Captain Scurvy said!

    It's weird, but I have yet to hear a Yankee fan in my circle place all the blame on A-Rod (or Lightning Rod, as I've come to call him) and that makes me happy -- at least we realize and appreciate what we have in front of us. 20 years from now, we'll be able to say we enjoyed watching one of the best players of this generation, while everyone else will be scratching their heads all "where was I? Oh yeah, criticizing him because it was the hip thing to do among Yankee haters at the time."

    Great blog, by the way! I'm always nodding in agreement when I'm reading it.

     
  • At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This "A-Fraud" stuff is getting a little tired. I'm also bored by Joel Sherman's piece in the Post today about A-Rod. Come on already ... what does this guy have to do to get some respect already? With apologies to Albert Pujols, A-Rod is the Best Player in Major League Baseball today. (PERIOD). When he's done playing (barring significant injuries) he'll be considered top 10 of all time. And he plays for US! what more can you ask?

    Yes, his contract is ridiculous ... but the boneheads in Texas gave it to him not us (and aren't they still paying some of it?) Yes he had an awful playoffs vs. the Angels. But we all would have been watching the Indians play that game against the Angels if Aaron Boone was still playing 3B for us. A-Rod at least got on base during the series. In my opinion, if you really had to pin the loss on someone it would be Matsui. He came up time and again with runners in scoring position and blew it. Somehow he skates by. Why is that?

     
  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Captain Scurvy said…

    It's because of the money, anonymous, or at least, it's mostly money. Matsui made $7M last year. A-Rod made $25.2M (and to answer your question, $10M of that came from Texas).

    A few other factors exist. Some people are still sore at A-Rod for any comments he might once have made about Jeter's ability.

    Then there's the highly subjective "true Yankee" label, which is an extension of the "clutch and choke" theory. Somehow guys like Matsui and Sheffield have been universally embraced as "true Yankees" while A-Rod has not. This is not meant as a criticism against Sheff or Matsui. I just fail to see why the same guys who are willing to ignore A-Rod's incredible 2005 season (when was the last time we had an MVP, anyway?) will heap praise on two guys with lesser accomplishments in pinstripes.

    I'd like to say that another part of the problem is public face-time, particularly in the interview room, but I can't back that up. Sheff invariably comes across as a punk ("they can trade me but I won't be happy and I won't play for anybody else") and you can't even talk to Matsui without a translator. But still, the fans are far quicker to point fingers at A-Rod, who displays a Jeter-esque press aloofness, than they are at Sheff or Matsui.

    Fans are fickle, especially those in New York where a powerful but sometimes warped sense of history exists. Anyone who has seen "'61" or watched Roger Maris play can attest to this.

    I guess what it boils down to is that people are waiting for A-Rod to have a "moment" that will catapult him into the hallowed halls of Yankees legends, and until he hits that five-run blast to win a World Series against the Red Sox and "prove" that he's "worth all that money" the bad puns will continue to rain down like, well, rain.

     
  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger Ruby K said…

    Uh, if Randy Johnson doesn't get cranky about the rain, we at least get a shot at the White Sox. How many passes did he get in the Angels series? they were simply not pitching to him. And the whole lineup dropped out of sight in Game 5. Why are people still whining about A-Rod?

    Yes, Yankees Chick, still reading and enjoying.

     
  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Neil M said…

    A-Rod still had a high OBP against the Angels, only Giambi was on base more in the Series.

     
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