Alex Rodriguez sucks, Nick Swisher sucks, Mark Teixeira sucks, Curtis Granderson sucks, Eduardo Nunez sucks, and even Derek Jeter sucks in the playoffs, at least that’s what everyone tells me on the Internet. It’s almost as if we have a lineup of guys that are more likely to get out than succeed. Why would Cashman fill this $200 million plus lineup with guys that only get on base 30-40% of the time?
Because succeeding 30-40% of the time makes you an allstar in baseball. OBP-wise, the Yankees led the American League in 2012 at .337, which they also coupled with the highest slugging percentage, highest wRC+, wOBA, and ISO. Most Yankee fans will agree that this team is one of, if not the best offensive team in baseball. That’s all good but I’ve heard the guys on TV say they suck with RISP . Well actually, they hit .256/.352/.436 with RISP in 2012, which you can compare to their .259/.337/.453 triple slash throughout the season. From all the games we’ve watched and heard the YES Network talk about their inability to get that big hit, these triple slashes are remarkably similar.
It’s all because of sample size, and when we’re analyzing baseball scientifically, it’s always important to keep in mind the amount of numbers we’re working with. On misconception is that Sabermetrics looks down upon the old-fashioned AVG and ERA-type stats, but the truth is that they’re wary of their significance because of sample size. The advanced baseball numbers that constantly churn out are created to help solve the problems of small sample size.
So how does this relate to Alex Rodriguez sucking? The biggest problems with the MLB playoffs is that every series is shrouded in small sample size. I’ve heard the saying that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, which is true through the first 162 games. You build a team that endures slumps and hot streaks, injuries and breakout players, all to win a chance at a few short series playoff games. But now that we have to win 3 of the next 5 games, baseball becomes a sprint, and it’s what you do in these games that defines your team and your players. Either you’re good, or you suck.
And that’s how we get to where we are today. We’re just two games in to the playoffs and I’m being constantly reminded that Alex Rodriguez is batting .111 in the playoffs thanks to a sample size of 9 at bats. Forget what he did in 2009, when he almost single handedly won the World Series for the Yankees, HE’S HITTING .111 AGAINST THE ORIOLES IN 9 AT BATS!
Baseball is meant to be played over a long season, and what we’re left with in the playoffs is little more than a coin toss with a 5 game series. Sample size evens out over 162 games, but in these series it won’t. So the best analysis I can give you is that this team has proven it can hit just fine with runners in scoring position, there’s no significant difference between what they did inside and outside these opportunities. If you’re wondering if this team will ever get another big hit, the answer is yes. And if you’re wondering is Alex Rodriguez really sucks in the playoffs, you won’t find the answer in his 9 at bats this year, you’ll find it in his .273/.383/.490 triple slash over his playoff career.