- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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BALTIMORE -- Matt Wieters has an excellent reputation as a catcher, as a leader, but he and Jason Hammel combined on a pitch selection in Game 1 of the ALDS that had talent evaluators befuddled. The count was three balls and two strikes, the hitter was Alex Rodriguez, and Hammel spun a breaking ball that veered out of the strike zone for a walk.
If there had been cameras on the scout section at that moment, you might have seen 20 scouts leaping to their feet screaming: What are you doing throwing him a slider?
The broad perception of Rodriguez right now is that he can't hit even an average fastball of 91-92 mph -- unless he guesses right and gets his swing started a little sooner and manages to time the pitch. As one rival scout said, "He's making 91 mph look like 99 mph" with the way he's swinging the bat. The evaluators think that in trying to make up for the inability to catch up to fastballs, Rodriguez is trying to get his bat started sooner, which leaves him more vulnerable to breaking pitches on the outer edge of home plate.
That's the eye test, and as New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi considers what to do with his lineup for Game 3, there is also an ocean of data that reinforces the need for change with Rodriguez.
BALTIMORE -- Matt Wieters has an excellent reputation as a catcher, as a leader, but he and Jason Hammel combined on a pitch selection in Game 1 of the ALDS that had talent evaluators befuddled.