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Alex Remington

A-Rod cannot match the majesty of Lloyd McClendon in 1992

Alex Remington
Big League Stew

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So a little bird told me that some guy named Alex Rodriguez(notes) is having a pretty good postseason. He used to be terrible in the playoffs, so I had to check it out for myself.

Not bad, I suppose: Through six games, A-Rod is hitting 8-for-23 with four homers and nine RBIs. He's holding a gaudy .348 average and a 1.277 OPS. Against the Twins in the ALDS, he went 5-for-11 with two homers in three games, a .455 average, and a 1.500 OPS.

There's nothing wrong with those kind of numbers, of course, but I don't get why everyone's making a big deal of it. They're certainly not historic and you can color both me and a certain former Pirate unimpressed.

It should go without saying, but Alex Rodriguez is obviously no Lloyd McClendon.

At the very least, A-Rod will have to start doing some serious work if he wants to match McClendon's record of .727 for the highest single-postseason batting average.

The hard-to-believe achievement of the mediocre outfielder came in 1992, which was the last season of baseball's second dead ball era. The future Pirates manager lured his opponents into a false sense of confidence by hitting only .253 with three homers and eight doubles in 190 at-bats during the regular season.

But if the Atlanta Braves had studied McClendon's brilliant part-time work in the 1989 NLCS, in which he went 2-for-3 with a walk in part-time duty, they might have been prepared for what came next.

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In five NLCS games against the Braves, McClendon managed to go 8-for-11 with a homer, four RBIs and four walks — one of them intentional! He hadn't received a single intentional walk during the entire regular season and was only intentionally walked seven times in his eight year career.

Some blame the Pirates downfall in that '92 NLCS on the performance of MVP Barry Bonds(notes) (.261 for the series) and his noodle-armed throw that allowed Sid Bream to score the winning run in a memorable Game 7. But I'm placing the blame squarely on Jim Leyland, who didn't even start McClendon in the final game after watching him go 3-for-3 in both Games 5 and 6. (Guess that 1-for-6 career mark against John Smoltz(notes) was just too big of a sample size to start McClendon in the three games that Smoltz pitched.)

A pity, too. Would've loved to see McClendon hit against those Blue Jays.

PS — That postseason wasn't the first time that "Legendary Lloyd" became known for his playoff heroics. During the 1971 Little League World Series, he took five swings, homered five times and was intentionally walked in each of his five other plate appearances with his team from Gary, Ind., the first all-black squad to reach the LLWS.

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