A-Rod, where did you go?

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Alex Rodriguez has 6 strikeouts, thus far, in the World Series. He’s performing like it’s 2006.

Here’s Tom Verducci’s (SI) take on A-Rod’s first two games of the series:

Those were some funky swings Alex Rodriguez took in Games 1 and 2 in the World Series, looking nothing like the compact, balanced strokes he took in the ALDS and ALCS. His swing was at times lengthened and at times became very defensive, more of swatting for the ball or feeling for it than taking a quick path to it. It’s almost as if he’s a shooter in basketball whose stroke gets tighter with each miss; he needs something to go down to restore confidence.In two games Rodriguez has swung at 23 pitches and put two balls in play: a grounder to third and a flyball to left field. He punched out three times in Game 1 and three times again in Game 2. Only one other player ever had back-to-back three-strikeout games in World Series history: Jim Lonborg. A pitcher. In 1967. It’s not the kind of World Series history Rodriguez had in mind. He waited his whole career to get to the World Series, and when he got here, he immediately became the first hitter, other than a pitcher with a .136 career average, to whiff three times in two straight World Series games.

To better understand the situation, here are A-Rod’s 8 at-bats (6 K, 8 outs) of the World Series, via Brooks Baseball.

Alex Rodriguez versus Cliff Lee, Game 1, 2nd inning, strikeout:

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Based on the location of these pitches—up in the zone, middle of the plate—Alex must not have been seeing the ball well against Lee, or he was trying to be overly deliberate while at the plate. Lee threw him 4 pitches (1, 2, 3, 5) which should have been hit out of the park.

Alex Rodriguez versus Cliff Lee, Game 1, 4th inning, strikeout:

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A-Rod’s patience is, for the most part, intact here, as he identifies 3 balls out of the zone. He chases pitches 1 and 2, though, and the first pitch (1) was particularly tough to hit since it was inside and low. Either could have been called strikes by the umpire, but maybe Alex should leave that up to the umpire rather than swing.

Alex Rodriguez versus Cliff Lee, Game 1, 7th inning, groundout:

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A-Rod’s strike zone has expanded, inside. After laying off the first inside pitch, he should have laid off the second, as they were nearly identical. He fouled it off, instead, and when Lee came inside but caught a good amount of the plate, Alex simply missed it.

Alex Rodriguez versus Cliff Lee, Game 1, 9th inning, strikeout:

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Lee leaves another pitch, pitch 2, in the middle of the plate and Alex merely fouls it off. Even the first pitch on the outside corner should have been hit since it’s right in his wheelhouse (perhaps he went up with the intention of taking the first pitch). The fourth pitch by Lee was pretty nasty, low, but Alex probably could have done some damage with it since it wasn’t inside on him (or far outside).

Alex Rodriguez versus Pedro Martinez, Game 2, 2nd inning, strikeout:

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Against Pedro, A-Rod starts off the game with a good at-bat, however, again, 4 of these pitches (4, 5, 6, 9) were practically dead center. Alex should have hit all 4 of them, especially the 2 (4, 5) that are in the upper part of the zone. He also chases the first and the second pitch. Those 2 pitches are well out of the zone. The A-Rod we saw in the ALCS and the ALDS generally didn’t chase pitches like this.

Alex Rodriguez versus Pedro Martinez, Game 2, 4th inning, fly out:

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Again, these pitches aren’t necessarily well located. Out and over the plate is a strength for A-Rod, but he failed to do anything here. He hit the ball hard, but he pulled it to left field rather than going with the pitch, away (this was directly after the Teixeira home run).

Alex Rodriguez versus Pedro Martinez, Game 2, 6th inning, strikeout:

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A-Rod’s strike zone just doesn’t seem as good as it was against the Angels and the Twins. While Pedro makes 2 pretty good pitches here (2, 4), the third pitch of the at-bat was out of the zone. If Alex would have been patient with it, the count would have been a more favorable 2-1 (assuming the umpire calls the third pitch a ball) rather than the unfavorable 1-2. That, then, led to pitch 4—the strikeout pitch, inside.

Alex Rodriguez versus Ryan Madson, Game 2, 8th inning, strikeout:

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Against Ryan Madson and his changeup, A-Rod totally folded. Though he allowed the first pitch to go by for ball 1, he then swung at 3 pitches that were in the exact same location (or thereabout, anyway) and all of them were well outside. Madson saw him diving over the outer part of the plate and just kept plugging away until he finally changed it up with a pitch on the inside (and up). There you have it, A-Rod’s worst at-bat of the series (on his last at-bat before Game 3).

Based on these 8 at-bats, I think A-Rod looks far too anxious at the plate. In previous postseason games this year, he would take his walks and allow the umpire to decide whether a close pitch was a strike or not (he wouldn’t chase). The Ryan Madson at-bat, in particular, was such a far cry from what we had been seeing all October, which was a patient Alex Rodriguez. In addition, when the Angels or the Twins left pitches up in the zone, especially on the outer part of the plate, Alex would crush them. Perhaps his nerves have finally caught up to him, at least for these two games.

Do I think we’ve seen the last of a clutch A-Rod this October? No, not at all. However, the at-bats above are, indeed, frustrating affairs. His strike zone judgment from Game 1 to Game 2 seems to have gotten worse, as well, which would indicate that he’s trying too hard. Hopefully, when he arrives in Citizen’s Bank Park and faces off against Cole Hamels in Game 3, he’ll opt for a more patient approach at the plate.

8 thoughts on “A-Rod, where did you go?

  1. Mick Y.

    Utley was supposed to be out at first base. Look at Victorino at 2nd base! http://twitpic.com/nhc8n He is way off the base and that is interference. Even though he beat the throw, the umpire blew that call as well.

    • Yea, he blew the call. Wasn’t it obvious when the game was being played that he blew the call? The 2-out call on the Yankees was way worse.

  2. leftylarry

    arOD IS BACK INTO WAVING AT IT AS HE TRIES TO PULL EVERYTHING.yES, HE’S GAGGING LIKE IN THE PAST, HOPE HE GOSE BACK TO HITTING IT UP THE MIDDLE.

    • Looks like someone forgot caps lock was on!

      He is trying to do to much and getting to low in his stance trying to pull everything for the game winner, you think the ALCS would have gotten that out of him but I guess you never can tell. I would venture to say he gets it right against Hamels, left handed pitcher who you can sit on his change up, with a day off to relax and leaving the pressure of Yankee stadium all should add up to a good all around game from Alex… I say he goes 2-5 with an RBI and a double.

      • Though if you want to get technical Ryan Howard has gone 1-7 against CC/AJ in the two games thus far including going 0-4 with 4 Ks in game 2 and no one is talking about how terrible he has been. The truth is great pitching beats great hitting and Cliff Lee was dominate (and has been since last year) while Pedro was very good at keeping everyone (especially Arod) off balance by constantly varying both speed and movement with good location. Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton are the two guys you have to judge Alex on in these first 4 games, the two guys who offer him the best chance to hit and hit hard are coming up if he struggles against those two then you can call it back to 06 but until then he has bought some good faith with his 5 postseason HRs thus far (1 away from tying Bernie’s record).

  3. two bad games in a row means diddly

  4. In a lot of things, A-Rod is inept but, as a baseball player I would never sell him short. He has figured it out by now, pressing is not the right way to approach hitting a baseball. He has known that for years but, sometimes one presses without realising it, and can’t seem to break it up. The harder they try, the worse it gets. I look for him to come back down to earth and have a good WS the rest of the way. This team is a much better team with a hot Tex and A-Rod (I think we all agree), but they need the rest of the team to steep up also, they can’t do it without help…well, maybe they can!?!

  5. Tom Gaffney

    He couldn’t stay that hot forever, especially with the rest of the lineup constantly coming up empty and pitchers beginning to pitch around him. He’s lost the nice rhythm he was in. Let’s see if he can get it back.

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