A-Rod in AprilAlex Rodriguez’s opt-out deadline is exactly one month from today. Thus, we’ll have plenty of time to parse all of his stats. But in light of Paul’s post on what you’d pay A-Rod, and in light of yet another “Choketober” postseason by the vaunted Yankees offense, I intended to cast the harsh light of day on A-Rod’s Heimlich-worthy playoff numbers.

But Tom Verducci got there first. Since the 5th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS–when New York’s fortunes began to go south–Rodriguez:

• went 8-for-59, a .136 batting average.

• batted with a total of 38 runners on base and left every single one of them on base. Not one did he drive in. He went 0 for 27, including 11 strikeouts, in at-bats with runners on.

• went 0 for 12 with a total of 17 runners in scoring position, driving in none of them.

I looked at his numbers during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 regular seasons. He had a .309 batting average over that period—172 points higher than his postseason average. He knocked in an average of 136 RBI and 46 homers. But if he can’t make it happen in October, what’s the point of having him on your team? Sure, he had some highlight reel clutchness at the start of the season, but by the law of averages, that just meant his choketitude would rear its ugly head when it really counts, which it did. I’ve joked about the “Curse of A-Rod,” but as many others have noted, it’s been 21 years since the team with the highest-paid player won the World Series. As Verducci suggests (and as I was going to write before he scooped me, I swear), it could be better for New York to just ditch A-Rod and spend the money on pitching. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll do it—New York is famous for not having to make those sorts of either/or decisions. As we say around the office, “It’s a both/and!”

A-Rod in OctoberIt’s a safe bet that A-Rod will make between 35 and 40 million dollars a year. It’s not inconceivable that A-Rod could make 50 million per year. Is he worth it?

Keep in mind that the Pirates, Nats, Marlins, and D-Rays all had entire payrolls of under 40 mill this season, and that the two teams playing in the NLCS (Rockies and Diamondbacks) have payrolls between 50 and 60 million.

So I pose a new question: Would you rather finance A-Rod? Or most of your starting lineup?

(Hot-stove speculation is the only time of year baseball makes me sad. Because honestly, I do start thinking about what else that money could be doing. If the rumors are right and it will take $300 million to sign A-Rod, that will give him more purchasing power—-including the $252 million he’s already earning—-than 21 nations listed by the CIA World Factbook.)

9 Responses to “How much is A-Rod worth? (The Sequel)”

  1. Coley Ward says:

    When the Red Sox payed $50 million just for the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka, Sox fans defended the decision, pointing to the fact that signing Matsuzaka would open up all sorts of previously unexplored marketing avenues — especially in Japan.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that signing A-Rod would create similar opportunities. Sure, signing Rodriguez costs a lot of money, but having him on your team is also a great way to make money.

  2. Paul Moro says:

    Also, to counter the “can’t do it in the playoffs” thing, it really is a small sample size we’re talking about. It’s 37 games out his entire career. And during those 37 games, he has a .844 OPS. Is that so horrible? Yeah, it’s below his career norms but it’s only 37 games we’re talking about.

    But if we ignore that and judge him on those 37 games, doesn’t this logic basically mean that he’s one of the best ALCS hitters ever? In the 14 ALCS games he’s ever played, he has a 1.024 OPS. If we’re calling him a choker for not putting up good numbers in the ALDS, shouldn’t the same logic hold true for his ALCS heroics? Again, it’s about sample size.

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    I normally like Tom Verducci, and I definitely like it when the Yankees choke, but I get pretty tired of the whole “A-Rod is no good in the playoffs thing.”

    The stats guys haven’t proven nearly as much as they think they’ve proven, but if there’s one thing that stats have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is that you really can’t tell anything about a player from less than 60 at-bats.

    And I would put forward the proposal that you can make *anyone* look bad if you choose the exact window of at-bats to cut out as your sample.

    I mean, why does Verducci choose such a precise moment as the fifth inning of game 4 of the 2004 NLCS? That’s pretty suspicious to me! Here’s guessing that A-Rod’s playoff numbers prior to that exact inning were actually pretty decent.

    I just don’t buy that A-Rod is somehow constitutionally unclutch in the playoffs, due to nerves or something. If I were building a playoff roster from scratch and could pick anyone, A-Rod is probably the first or second guy I’d choose.

    Look, everyone talked about how Barry Bonds never got it done in the playoffs too, until he blew up in the 2002 post-season, and even “Captain Clutch” himself, Derek Jeter, had a pretty lousy string of at-bats this time out. A-Rod is A-Rod, and he’s much more likely to hit .300 in his next 58 playoff at-bats than he is to hit .150.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Yes, well, Verducci then goes on and on about how it just doesn’t make sense that A-Rod’s numbers have been so bad and blah blah blah. Nick will just have to read the rest of the article. :)

    As for Coley’s point, that’s certainly the argument Scott Boras has been making. “A-Rod will make your team half a billion dollars! Therefore he deserves nearly that much in salary.” But has he made that much money for the Yankees or for the Rangers? What are the numbers?

    And Paul, yes, the sample size is small. But though Nick dismissed the idea of A-Rod having some weird emotional problem, I say it’s not out of the realm of possibility. He’s been pretty open about seeing a shrink and working out stuff like that before. Another good point Verducci mentioned in his article was that A-Rod looked terrible against Paul Byrd. If A-Rod is so good, why did he look SO BAD against such a mediocre pitcher? It’s not like his numbers are just a little softer in postseason play. They are downright abysmal!

    But more than any of this, is any one player worth such a retarded amount of money when you could field an entire team for the same sum?

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    I dunno. I mean if the entire team I can field for that sum is the Pittsburgh Pirates, than I think I’ll take my chances with just A-Rod. I’d make him pitch and field all nine positions. Sure, he’d yield a lot of extra base hits, but on the other hand on offense you’d have just A-Rod batting nine-times in a row, which is an awful lot of offense!

    Of course, there *would* have to be some sort of ghost runner system instituted…

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    Sarah, I did read the whole article. When Verducci goes on and on about how the numbers “don’t compute”, he is doing that precisely to make the argument that this is *not* just random statistical variation (which is what Paul and I think it is).

    If you read the article again, you will see that at no point does Verducci acknowledge that it could just be normal statistical variation. Verducci is convinced that this is absolutely can’t be normal and clearly suggests that there must be something wrong with A-Rod’s head, although he does say we can’t put all the blame on A-Rod because other people sucked as well.

    The example you site of him looking so terrible against Paul Byrd (“if A-Rod is so good, why did he look SO BAD against such a mediocre pitcher?”) is *exactly* the kind of reasoning Paul and I don’t accept. It’s a sample size of two, and anyone can look bad for two at bats.

    A-Rod usually hits around .300 and strikes out about 100 times a year, so that means that 70% of the time he makes outs and several TENS of times per year he is struck out by a pitcher other than Johan Santana or C.C. Sabathia! But this is A-ROD we are talking about!!! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE????

  7. Sarah Green says:

    Until Alex Rodriguez wins a World Series, or at least puts up good numbers in October, people will continue to speculate about why. He doesn’t have to have a “hot” October or any walkoff hits, but if he wants to get the monkey off his back he does have to hit the way he hits during the regular season.

    Given what the Yankees offense did in the second half of the season this year, I don’t think anyone expected them to look so bad against the Indians. Their suckage can only be explained by their offense totally choking. (Yes, I know their pitching wasn’t very good either, but there was only one game in which the Yankees scored more than 4 runs—and they won that game.) And Alex is a key part of their offensive assault. So sure, if it were a best-of-15 series, maybe A-Rod would finally have driven in a baserunner. But there are a lot of other good ballplayers out there who can do that in a best-of-five or a best-of-seven series.

    And it’s not like A-Rod was struggling in September, too. He finished strong, and then got ice-cold almost instantaneously. His batting average in September was .362, almost a hundred points higher than his average in October (4 games, .267). He had 10 RBI in the last week of the regular season. Suddenly it’s the postseason, and he’s waving at grapefruits lobbed over the heart of the plate? All year, he puts up better numbers with runners on, better numbers close and late, better numbers with two outs and men in scoring position—but suddenly, in October, he can’t pull the trigger? He strikes out six times in four games—and it’s *just* sample size? No, this is where I draw a line and say that baseball isn’t all about the numbers.

  8. Nick Kapur says:

    Okay, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I finally went and looked up some actual numbers!

    While it’s true that in his last four playoff series A-Rod has hit .200, but in the four playoff series before that he batted .371!

    This includes batting .420 in the 2004 ALDS.

    So there is definitely a reason why Tom Verducci picked such a precise time as the 5th inning of game 4 of the 2004 ALCS to start his sampling.

    It’s ridiculous to say something like “at least until A-Rod at least puts up some good numbers in October…” He already HAS done that. Several times, actually.

    Even in his much-maligned performance this last series against Cleveland, he batted .267, which really isn’t all that bad, and starts to look downright good when you consider that many of those at-bats were against maybe the two best pitchers in the whole American League and one of the best bullpen tandems in baseball.

    So again, this is pretty much all coming down to a sample size of two at-bats against Paul Byrd.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    Okay okay okay. He’s only sucked in October since moving to the easy-peasey atmosphere of New York, and the tra-la-la atmosphere of at-bats in Corona-commercial-laid-back situations such as the 2004 ALCS. His virtuoso performance in the 2004 ALDS (when the overrated 101-61 Yanks took on the mighty 92-70 Twins) CLEARLY proves that there’s absolutely nothing psychological going on there. My bad!

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