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Just The Sports: Alex Rodriguez's Walk Years

Just The Sports

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alex Rodriguez's Walk Years

If Alex Rodriguez so chooses, he can, after the 2007 season, terminate his ten-year, $252 million contract filled with numerous bonuses, in what is actually the first of three opt-out years for the current New York Yankee. Opting out of the contract will deprive him of $81 million over the next three seasons, but on the free agent market, with agent Scott Boras whispering in his ear, maybe he thinks he will be able to top that $27 million per year rate and sign another albatross contract. Since he can end his relationship with the contract, the 2007 season is, in essence, his walk year, his first since 2000 and one that is shaping up to look very much like what he did in 2007.

With all the attention and incredulity Rodriguez's current season's exploits have garnered coupled with the short attention span of today's media coverage, it is easy to forget just what Rodriguez accomplished in his last year with the Seattle Mariners.

In his first sixty-nine games of the 2000 season, Rodriguez hit .347 BA/.449 OBP/.649 SLG/.364 GPA, which is neither statistically significantly better nor worse than the .313 BA/.416 OBP/.688 SLG/.359 GPA line he has put up in the first sixty-nine games of this season.

As one can see, the differences between his batting average and on-base percentage in the two seasons is both a couple of points above .100, but Rodriguez compiled the differences in two ways. In 2000, he drew forty-nine walks in his first 314 official plates appearances; for this year, he has only drawn thirty-nine walks in 308 official plate appearances, but he has failed to get out of the way of nine pitches, making up for the lower walk rate. Also, his higher batting average for his first sixty-nine games of the 2000 season explains the higher on-base percentage and thus, the higher gross product average.

Not so clear to the eye by simply looking at the aforementioned cumulative statistics is the fact his slugging percentage, isolated power, and gross product average standard deviations are lower in his 2000 season so while Rodriguez may have reached higher power heights this year, he was more consistent with the ones he reached in 2000.

What comparing these two seasons demonstrates is not only the high level of play at which Rodriguez has been able to hit in seasons seven years apart, but that if a team so desires to give him a huge contract on the condition he does opt out, he will have earned it just like he did in 2000.



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