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Entries in Alex Rodriguez (16)


A-Rod Getting Beat Inside

As recently as 2010, Alex Rodriguez's chances of becoming baseball's all-time home run king looked promising. He moved past hip surgery that sidelined him in 2009 to go deep 30 times and slug slightly over .500 -- not vintage A-Rod numbers, but plenty potent nonetheless. A couple of years later, though, Rodriguez's body and power appear to betraying him. 

Knee surgery cut his season short in 2011, when he hit 16 HR and slugged .461. And in 2012, Rodriguez has five homers and a sub-.400 slugging percentage. He's under contract with the Yankees through 2017, but hitting another 129 bombs to move past Barry Bonds looks like a long shot. Put simply, A-Rod is no longer a threat on the inside part of the plate.

Back in 2010, A-Rod still turned on inside offerings and punished pitchers. Check out his slugging percentage by pitch location against inside stuff, and then the league average:

A-Rod's slugging percentage by location vs. inside pitches, 2010

Average slugging percentage by location vs. inside pitches, 2010

A-Rod hit 18 home runs and slugged .554 when a pitcher challenged him inside in 2010, well north of the .421 average for MLB hitters. Last year, A-Rod lost some oomph on the inside part of the plate:

A-Rod's slugging percentage by location vs. inside pitches, 2011

His slugging percentage on inside stuff dipped to .504. While that was still above the .415 MLB average, it represented a 50 point drop. He hit just five homers on inside pitches in 2011.

This year, A-Rod has been downright punchless against inside pitches:

A-Rod's slugging percentage by location vs. inside pitches, 2012

He's slugging a paltry .234 versus inside stuff (the MLB average so far is .408), with a single homer. Rather than ripping pitches for homers and extra bases as in years past, A-Rod is rolling over when pitchers go inside. Here's his spray chart this season on pulled pitches put in play:


A-Rod's spray chart on inside pitches put in play, 2012

Rodriguez has a 63 percent ground ball rate on inside pitches put in play, a full 20 percentage points above his inside grounder rate during his still-powerful 2010 campaign.  

While pitchers haven't gone inside on A-Rod much more than usual so far (about 45 percent of the time), that could change if scouts think he no longer possesses the world-class bat speed to launch pitches thrown in on the hands into the stands. Decline is inevitable, even for all-time greats. But the Yankees need more thump for their third baseman if they're going to survive the gauntlet that is the AL East.


Clay Buchholz's Cutter Location

Yesterday afternoon following the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park, the Yankees knocked around Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz.  Buchholz’s cutter gave him some trouble as the Yankees managed four hits off it (including two home runs), while making just two outs.  He gave up two line drives on the cutter (both singles) and two fly balls (the two home runs).

Take a look at where Buchholz located his cutter last season:

Click to enlargeNow take a look at where he put the pitch yesterday:

Click to enlargeFor the most part, he stayed true to form.  He kept the cutter in on lefties and away from righties.  However, that one cutter on the outside edge of the zone to the lefty was the HR Chavez hit 382 feet.  And the pitch right in the middle of the plate to the righty was the home run Alex Rodriguez hit 393 feet over the green monster. Two mistakes, two home runs.


A-Rod vs. Shields

MLB Offense from March 30, 2011 - April 14, 2011 (click to enlarge)

Through the first two weeks of the 2011 season, A-Rod was mashing. He faces a tough pitcher today in James Shields. Shields' curve has become one of his most effective pitches; opposing batters have a swing-and-miss rate of 30.8% against it since the start of 2011.

Rodriguez has struggled against curveballs, posting a .284 wOBA on the pitch in 2011. If Shields can get ahead of A-Rod in the count, the Yankees third baseman should see a heavy dose of them.

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