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Just The Sports: Is Alex Rodriguez Too Impatient?

Just The Sports

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Is Alex Rodriguez Too Impatient?

After watching a number of Yankees games this season and watching Alex Rodriguez struggle at times at the plate, it seemed to me that when there were runners on base, he seemed to be more aggressive at the plate and swing after seeing fewer pitches than he did in other at-bats. This, I thought, was why he sometimes struggled in so-called clutch situations, if batting .305 with runners in scoring position can be called struggling. However, I was uncomfortable with merely thinking that this was the case so I actually took the time to look at the data.

Instead of looking at every at-bat when runners were on base and Rodriguez was in the batter's box, I compared Rodriguez's at-bats where runners were not in scoring position to thos where runners were in scoring position. At-bats that resulted in him being hit by a pitch, sacrificing (fly or bunt), and fielder's choices were discarded. The pitch-by-pitch data I used is available on

What I found was not exactly what I was expecting given what seemed to be the case. Actually, there is no consistent trend overall to conclude that Rodriguez is any more or any less aggressive when there are runners in scoring position. There are aspects of his hitting where he does seem to be more aggressive and not worry about plate discipline as much.

On the singles Rodriguez hit with in those at-bats where runners were not in scoring position, he saw an average of 3.62 pitches. Conversely, when there were runners in scoring position and he hit a single, he did so after seeing an average of 2.73 pitches, almost a pitch less.

The same decrease occurred on the outs he made, not counting his strikeouts. When he made an out in regular appearances, Rodriguez 3.16 pitches on average. With runners in scoring position, he saw 2.72 pitches before making his out.

What did not fall in line were his strikeouts and non-intentional walks. In strikeouts, he saw 5.00 pitches when runners were in scoring position and 4.68 when they were not. For non-intentional walks, it is almost the same story with 5.37 pitches on average in run-scoring positions and 5.03 pitches without.

When he hits home runs, runners in scoring position or not, he sees about the same number of pitches (2.78-RISP to 2.75-non-RISP).

Taking all the situations in account, Alex Rodriguez sees 3.85 pitches in plate appearances without runners being in scoring position compared to 3.72 pitches with runners in scoring position, not a great difference. The numbers do not take into account when he hits a double since he has hit no doubles with runners in scoring position this year.

As for Rodriguez being more impatient in opportunities where he could knock in a few runs, it seems that my eyes and brain were lying to me.


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