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.