The A-Rod surge may never come

His season thus far raises a lot of questions. Alex Rodriguez has a home run to fly ball ratio of 22.3 percent for his career. The last three years have been at 17.1, 14.5 and 16.7 (this season) respectively. Combine that with the fact that his lifetime fly ball rate is 39.5 percent and sits this year sits at a career low of 32.1 percent and you have a guy hitting less homers per fly ball and less fly balls. That is not a combination that will seem to trend into any kind of power surge in the months to come.

Alex Rodriguez looks tentative at the plate. And the numbers show that he has lost some sense of the strike zone. He is swinging at 31 percent of pitches outside the strike zone according to Fangraphs when his career average is 21.8 percent. Conversely, his swing rate for pitches that are strikes is down from his career. The 64.8 percent of the time he swings at strikes is the lowest of his career. So again, you have a player who is fishing more and swinging less at strikes. That is not a good combination and again does little to think that a surge may come at some point. Pitchers are also showing less fear of facing him as his first pitch strike percentage is his highest ever.

There is more. Alex Rodriguez was always one of the best fastball hitters in baseball. In the last ten years, only Albert Pujols had a better pitch value against fastballs than Alex Rodriguez. For his career, A-Rod has had an average value against fastballs of 2.02 per hundred. This year, that value is down to 1.01 per hundred. In those same ten years, only ten other batters have had a better pitch value score against sliders than A-Rod. This year, Rodriguez is in the negative numbers on that pitch. Only five batters in the last ten years have had a better pitch value score against curves than A-Rod. He is in the negative numbers against that pitch too.

Finesse pitchers are particularly troubling to Alex Rodriguez. And this is a huge departure for his career. Alex Rodriguez has feasted on finesse pitchers with a career triple slash line of: .325/.397/.604. Just about half of his career homers and runs batted in have come against finesse pitchers. This season, his triple slash line against those types of pitchers is: .224/.264/.306 in 106 such plate appearances.

After spending much of the season rebelling against the idea that Alex Rodriguez should no longer occupy one of the prime positions in the Yankees’ batting order, perhaps the clamor is correct. A-Rod could perhaps prove us all wrong and have that hot streak we’ve all been waiting for. Perhaps he will have a month where he hits ten homers in July, August or September. Perhaps he will at some point start rifling drives all over the field. But that hope is rapidly diminishing and expectations are being lowered every day.


About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

5 thoughts on “The A-Rod surge may never come

  1. Well timed article; not only is Alex looking bad, he has numbers to back it up – 1 for 12 in the last three games, including 0-4 last night. I know – Kimbrel is good – BUT – A-Rod looked bad against him in the ninth last night. Very bad. And this was a DH game, where he was rested; after getting a day off last weekend.

    I'd say move him down in the order, but right now, the bottom of the order is what's producing – better to leave him with Cano and the other guys who aren't hitting.

  2. Ok. So we just absorb his lack of production for the rest of the season and then just not give him a new contract the winter. No biggie.

    Oh, wait….

  3. Nate Silver once projected AROD's homer output through the end f the contarct. he looks to be spot on..

    SeasonHome RunsCareer

  4. NateSIlver prediction versus actuals

    Season Predicted HRs Actual HRs
    2009 3330
    2010 3030
    2011 2716
    2012 25
    2013 18
    2014 16
    2015 12

  5. A dfficult spot for a manager, to say the least. Girardi should consider batting him second, which is where his current level of production would do the least amount of damage to the team. He's no longer a middle of the order hitter, and you can't drop him to the bottom third, which his production dictates. Lineup could be Jeter, Rodriguez, Cano, Teixeira, Granderson, Swisher, Jones/Ibanez, Martin, Gardner (when healthy). Or leave it as is and the offense will continue to hit on seven cylinders. Which won't be good enough come October.