Rodriguez’s clutch problems aren’t new

Inside Edge takes a look at whether Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is clutch or not (stats through Saturday, August 30):

IS A-ROD CLUTCH-LESS?

Ninth Inning : He grounded into a double-play to end the game on Saturday. His ninth inning strikeout sewed up a Yankees loss on August 26th. Does A-Rod have a problem hitting in the final innings? Not exactly. Here are his numbers in the ninth inning, broken down by this year, his five seasons with the Yankees, and over his distinguished career:

A-Rod in the 9th inning
Time frame
BAVG
SLG
OBP
2008
.265
.412
.306
As a Yankee
.315
.645
.403
Career
.262
.484
.341
2008 MLB Avg.
.242
.374
.313

Yankee fans are quick to forget what a force A-Rod was in the final inning of games in 2007. Just a year ago, the man they are quick to call out as “not clutch” (among other things) led the league with 8 ninth-inning bombs, two of which were the walk-off variety. The next highest ninth-inning homer total was shared by several players who had only half as many as Rodriguez.

A-Rod’s ninth-inning homer-oics from 2007 are below:

A-Rod’s 9th Inning homers in 2007
Situation
HR
1 run difference or tie game
5
More than 1 run difference
3
Yankees leading
2
Yankees trailing or tied
6

RISP : A-Rod’s .254 batting average with runners in scoring position this season ranks him 147th out of the 203 hitters with the most plate appearances with RISP. This is not the first time he’s hit for a low average with runners in scoring position in his tenure with the Yankees. Rodriguez batted just .248 in this situation back in 2004, his first season in the Bronx. Here are his career numbers with RISP:

A-Rod with Runners in Scoring Position
Time frame
BAVG
SLG
OBP
2008
.254
.415
.402
As a Yankee
.288
.510
.413
Career
.303
.552
.404
2008 MLB Avg.
.269
.412
.353

He draws plenty of walks in RISP situations, so his on base percentage is better than league average this season, but he’s barely above the league slugging norm and well below the league batting average with runners in scoring position in 2008. The .269 league average with RISP this year is better than the league average without RISP. Rodriguez has clearly been more comfortable hitting when there are not ducks on the pond:

Rodriguez with and without RISP (2008)
Situation
BAVG
SLG
OBP
RISP
.254
.415
.402
No RISP
.329
.644
.388

Home Runs : Does he hit meaningful home runs? The table below breaks down A-Rod’s 201 homers as a Yankee:

Home runs with the Yankees (2004 - present)
Year
Inn 1-3
Inn 4-6
Inn 7+
Yankees Ahead
Yankees tied or behind
2008
11
10
7
12
16
2007
21
17
16
26
28
2006
11
11
13
14
21
2005
21
18
9
21
27
2004
13
14
9
14
22
Total
77
70
54
87
114
Pct.of total
38%
35%
27%
43%
57%

Overall, the MLB average is 33 percent of homers in the first three innings, 36 percent in the middle innings, and 30 percent after the sixth frame. Rodriguez tends to do more home run damage in the early part of games. More important, the majority of A-Rod’s homers in pinstripes have come with the Yankees trailing or tied in the game, and there’s nothing not clutch about that.


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Updated Sunday, Aug 31, 2008