Alex Rodriguez’s problem with lefties

Manipulating Phil Hughes' Roster Spot
For DJ3K, a TiqIQ contest
Blue = vs. LHP, Red = vs. RHP, Green = vs. ALL

The decline of Alex Rodriguez has been greatly exaggerated, though you’d be foolish to say it’s not happening. Long gone are the days of .300/.390/.550+ with a guaranteed 30+ homers and 150+ games played every single year, but it’s not like he’s turned into a .260 singles hitter. A-Rod is hitting .295/.369/.493 this year, a .378 wOBA that is third best among all third baseman (four points from being first). His 4.0 fWAR is a full win better than the next best third baseman in the game (Adrian Beltre at 2.9).

Alex’s decline is most obvious against left-handed pitchers, and the graph above shows that. His production against southpaws, a demographic he once routinely demolished at near-historic levels, has cratered to the point where he’s been basically league average against them since the start of 2010. There’s usually nothing wrong with league average, but there is when it comes to a player of A-Rod’s caliber. His batted ball profile (right) shows that he’s been hitting more and more balls on the ground against lefties over the last four years, and that’s a pretty good explanation of why his production has dropped. Hard for a ground ball to go over the fence. Furthermore, let’s look at the spray charts against lefties (via Texas Leaguers) …

Here’s a gif of the four spray charts together, might make it easier to see. I’ve taken the liberty of circling left field since that’s what really stands out; A-Rod has simply stopped pulling the ball against left-handed pitchers. Maybe that’s a conscious decision, maybe he’s sitting back more and waiting to drive pitches to the opposite field to take advantage of the short porch in right. Pitchers aren’t pitching him any differently (LHP fastball rate from 2008-2011: 63.4%, 59.8%, 63.6%, 63.6%) and other than a spike in 2009 (which coincides with the drop one-year drop is fastball rate), Alex’s strikeout rate against southpaws has remained pretty constant. If it’s a conscious decision to go the other way, it’s not working and he should definitely get back to pulling the ball, even though Yankee Stadium isn’t as kind when you hit the ball in that direction.

On the other hand, A-Rod will be turning 36 later this month, and it could just be age-related decline. His bat is slowing and he might not be able to get around on the heat anymore, but then why doesn’t he have a similar problem against righties? Perhaps it’s a sample size thing, in that there are so many more righties than lefties that he’s gotten enough reps against them to figure out how to approach them as his bat slows. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here. For whatever reason, Alex isn’t pulling the ball against left-handers anymore, and it’s draining his overall production. With guys like David Price, Ricky Romero, and Jon Lester in the division, it’s a problem.

Manipulating Phil Hughes' Roster Spot
For DJ3K, a TiqIQ contest
  • Esteban

    He has no problem with Ladies, though.

    I wonder if he is trying to hit the ball to the short porch more often. Why would a hitter like A-Rod see a reverse platoon split like this?

    • Gonzo

      Is Tara Reid a lefty?

  • SS

    Maybe it’s because there are pitchers like Price, Lester and Romero in the AL East – what do his stats look like once you take them out?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Considering that would be at best 16 PA’s this year I doubt it would change significantly.

      • V

        Looking at 2010-2011 (hopefully I didn’t screw up) combined, ARod is hitting .242/.329/.416 against lefties in 219 ABs (258 PAs).

        In the same time span, he is hitting .133/.204/.267 against Lester+Price+Romero in 45 ABs (49 PAs) and .270/.359/.454 against everyone else.

        • V

          .125/.300/.125 in 8 ABs/10 PAs vs. Liriano and .143/.143/.286 vs. Cliff Lee in 7 ABs/PAs and 0/4 with 4 BBs vs. Derek Holland in 8 PAs.

          • Guest

            I think we might have our answer. He’s been woefully atrocious against really good lefty pitchers in the last couple of years and above average (but not great) against every other lefty.

            Also, it looks like he’s had 74 PA’s against really good lefties out of 219 total PA’s. That’s more than 1/3 of his at bats.

            Highly unlikely he’s had 1/3 of his at-bats against righties (which will also include some middle relief dreck) against pitcher’s who are as good as those noted by V.

            So that might explain at least part of the difference: A-Rod’s sucked against lefties because the AL in general and the AL East in specific has seen a recent infusion of awesome lefty pitching.

  • Hester Prynne

    This is certainly concerning. Maybe we can pick up Juan Rivera to platoon with A-Rod.

    • hogsmog

      Yeah, maybe he’ll be more clutch then that awful choker A-Roid.

  • JohnC

    Just hate the fact that we are stuck with him for 6 more years. 3 more would have been tolerable.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      Yeah, if things are getting ugly now with Jeter, imagine how they’ll be when ARod’s in the last 2 years of his contract and he’s hitting .250 with 20 or fewer HRs!

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        Arod can move back to SS when Jeter retires.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    the term “spray chart” just sounds dirty.

    • Cris Pengiuci


  • Monteroisdinero

    His power to right seems to be decreasing as well. Age-it strikes all. We have some good right-sided Monterian power percolating at Scranton so that is something to look forward to. Alex just looks gimpy in the lower body lately. We see it on the basepath and this may also be affecting his power/mechanics at the plate.

  • Frank

    I believe he’s more injutred than he (or the team) is willing to say. Whether it’s his knee or hip, he just doesn’t look right batting or running. The explosiveness in his swing just isn’t there. It wouldn’t shock me at all if after the season it comes out he’s having some sort of surgery.

    • Monteroisdinero

      This. Seems like every other day we hear about an injured player. They’ll send him for an MRI soon. In ST, he looked so thin, was running well, turning on everything thrown. He has been wearing down.

  • V

    Conscious. Not conscience. Not usually a spelling/grammar nazi, but you might want to fix that ;-)

  • Mike

    ARod has an awful contract that is likely going to be a burden. 6 more years with him should be an adventure,

    • Reggie C.

      If he keeps plowing through the ladies at his current rate, chances are Arod gets offed by one of his exes before becoming a burden to the team’s bottom line.

  • Rainbow Connection

    His problems with lefties…
    They’re taking his money and first and second amendment rights?