At 29-17, the Yankees boast the best record in baseball since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup on May 8th. That has more to do with the pitching than anything else, as A-Rod is currently having his worst statistical season since 1997. The good news is that A-Rod’s .232 batting average is fueled by a ridiculously low .219 BABIP, and his IsoP is .252, right in line with his career mark. His prodigious power is still there, it’s just that fewer balls are dropping in for hits at the moment. That should correct itself in time.
But let’s not worry about batting average and hitting for power right now. Has anyone noticed how much A-Rod’s been walking this year? Even though he’s only played in 46 of 75 games, he’s third on the team with 39 walks (behind Nick Swisher & Mark Teixeira) and already 15th in AL in free passes. He’s walked in 20.1% of his plate appearances this year, far and away the best mark of a career in which he’s walked 11.3% of the time. All those walks allow A-Rod to have a fantastic .399 OBP despite his low batting average.
One of the byproducts of drawing walks and working deep counts is striking out. Nick Swisher and Adam Dunn are extreme examples, but we also see it with Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon. It’s just the way it is. Except that hasn’t been the case for A-Rod this year. He has more walks than strikeouts (28 K), something he’s never done, and frankly has never even been close to doing before. Over the his first five years in pinstripes, Alex struck out in about 22% of his plate appearance, but this year he’s cut it down to 18.1%.
A-Rod’s always been a guy that put a ton of pressure on himself, particularly in big spots, but this year he seems more content to just take what he’s given and pass the baton on to the next guy if the pitcher doesn’t give him something to hit. Maybe it’s just a statistical anomaly. I really have no idea, any theories?
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Anywho, here’s your open thread for tonight. The Mets are in Milwaukee, surely happy to not be facing the Yanks any more. Talk about whatever you like here, just be nice.
Oh, and make sure you vote in this week’s Fan Confidence Poll if you haven’t already.