Stats & Info: Alex Rodriguez
November, 21, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
USA TODAY SportsThe Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade should open up playing time for young players Jurickson Profar and Nick Castellanos.
The Tigers will send Prince Fielder, who is due to make $168 million over the next seven seasons, to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. The second baseman is due to make another $62 million through 2018, a year in which he has a $10 million club option or $5 million buyout.
Fielder is the fourth player in MLB history to be dealt with more than $100 million remaining on his contract. He joins Alex Rodriguez, who was dealt from the Rangers to the Yankees, as well as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, who were part of the same deal between the Red Sox and the Dodgers.
Fielder has had one of the best starts to his career by a left-handed power hitter. His 285 career home runs are the fifth-most in MLB history before the age of 30 by a lefty, behind just Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott and Adam Dunn.
During his two years in Detroit, Fielder was one of four players to hit 50 home runs, drive in 200 runs and hit .290 along with now former teammate Miguel Cabrera, free agent Robinson Cano and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Kinsler, who entered the league in 2006, has been one of the best second baseman in the game. His 34.9 WAR is the fourth-best among second basemen in that span behind just Chase Utley, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia.
One thing to watch for this upcoming season is how Kinsler adapts to playing in Detroit, as he was much more productive at the Ballpark in Arlington in his career than on the road, hitting 62 points higher.
One area where the two players have had different degrees of success is in the postseason.
Since joining the Tigers, Prince Fielder hit .196 in 92 postseason at-bats with just one home run. And in his past 18 postseason games, Fielder hasn’t driven in a single run.
Kinsler, meanwhile, has hit .311 in his postseason career.
For the Rangers, the roster change is fairly apparent, as they had three quality middle infielders for two spots last season, including Elvis Andrus whose eight-year, $120 million extension starts in 2015. Moving Kinsler allows Jurickson Profar to man second base, while Fielder provides a big upgrade over Mitch Moreland at first base. Profar was Keith Law’s No. 1 prospect heading into last season.
For Detroit, moving Fielder allows Miguel Cabrera to take over at first base -- where he won’t be as big of a liability on defense. It also opens the door at third for the Tigers’ top prospect, Nick Castellanos, who started his career as a third baseman but was moved to the outfield in 2012. Castellanos was a first-round pick in 2010 and was the 2012 Futures Game MVP.
August, 19, 2013
By Justin Havens, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
ESPN Stats & InfoThe Angels are on the hook for another eight seasons with Albert Pujols, whose numbers have been on the decline in recent seasons.
But there’s one contract still in its infancy that could end up far more burdensome than any previous contract in major league history.
Much has been made of how the Yankees owe Rodriguez nearly $90 million (not including performance bonuses) through 2017.
However, the Los Angeles Angels still owe Albert Pujols –- who will miss the rest of the 2013 season with an injured left foot -- $212 million through 2021. The two least-expensive seasons in his 10-year deal were 2012 ($12 million) and 2013 ($16 million).
The only player who is owed more money starting next season is the Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto ($225 million through 2023).
Pujols has seen several of his once-lofty statistics decline since he won back-to-back National League MVP awards in 2008 and 2009.
Pujols had 9.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2008 and a major league-best 9.7 in 2009. Since then, it has dropped from 7.5 in 2010 to 5.0 in his first season with the Angels to 1.6 this season. That’s tied for 129th, with players such as Kelly Johnson, Dioner Navarro and David DeJesus, to name a few.
Pujols' OPS has decreased each of the past five seasons after he posted a career-high 1.114 OPS in 2008.
This season will also mark the first time in Pujols’ 13-year career that he will not hit at least 30 home runs and just the second time that he will not drive in 100 runs.
Another streak that will come to an end is his 12-season run with 150 hits. That's tied for the third-longest streak in the live ball era. Only Paul Waner (14 straight from 1926 to '39) and Richie Ashburn (13 straight, 1948-60) had longer such streaks.
And, for the first time in his career, Pujols will play less than 100 games.
When Pujols returns in 2014, he will be eight home runs from becoming the 26th member of the 500-home run club and two RBIs from 1,500.
August, 19, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Alex Rodriguez has been able to hit the inside pitch since returning.
Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees lineup on August 5 and his returncame with lots of controversy on-and-off the field, the most recent coming on Sunday, when Ryan Dempster hit him with a pitch.
Let’s use this space to look at three Rodriguez-related matters, specifically related to on-field performance.
Yankees bats awaken
The Yankees offense has been considerably better since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup (helped as well by the hot-hitting of Alfonso Soriano).
They're hitting .303 in 13 games with A-Rod after hitting .240 without him. They're scoring about a run and a half more per game and hitting a homer much more often.
Rodriguez isn’t the only right-handed bat to add something of value to the Yankees lineup. Soriano has a 1.105 OPS with seven home runs and 22 RBI in the 13 games since Rodriguez returned. Eduardo Nunez is hitting .320 with seven RBI. Even Vernon Wells, who was in a prolonged slump, is 9-for-24 in that span.
Rodriguez is tied for the Yankees lead in homers by a third baseman this season, with his two. Kevin Youkilis and David Adams each hit two earlier this season.
A-Rod’s strengths and weakness
A look at the heat map above tells a pretty clear story for Rodriguez’s first dozen games.
Rodriguez is thriving when he’s able to make contact with a pitch on the inner-half of the plate or off the inside corner. He’s 11-for-29 with two doubles and two home runs when an at-bat ends with a pitch to that are. The caveat is that he’s missing on about one-fourth of his swings.
Against pitches on the outer half (or off the outside corner), he’s only missing at a rate of once every five swings. But he hasn’t done as much when he has made contact, with four hits in 18 at-bats that ended with pitches there.
It’s way too early to look at advanced defensive statistics, but Rodriguez doesn’t appear to have hurt the Yankees in his 88 innings at the hot corner this season.The video-review crew at Baseball Info Solutions has credited him with seven Good Fielding Plays and four Defensive Misplays & Errors.
Last season, Rodriguez totaled only 14 Good Fielding Plays (in more than 700 innings) and had 21 Misplays & Errors.
Rodriguez will see a mix of pitchers with which he's familiar and unfamiliar. He’ll get his first look at Esmil Rogers on Tuesday and another shot against J.A. Happ, against whom he’s 0-for-3, on Thursday.
In between that, Rodriguez will face Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey. Rodriguez has 34 at-bats against Buehrle and no homers, his second-most at-bats against a pitcher that he's homerless against. He’s 7-for-16 against Dickey, albeit without a home run. Dickey did strike him out twice in their most recent meeting, a little more than a year ago.
August, 12, 2013
By Will Cohen, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsHiroki Kuroda has a 1.13 ERA since the start of July, the lowest ERA in the majors.
1. The Yankees have been on a terrible slide since the All-Star break, going 8-13, the fourth-worst record in baseball. New York is looking to win consecutive games for the first time since winning three straight a month ago (July 10-12).
Before taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, the team had not won a series since July 5-7.
2. The Yankees are having an offensive season for the ages -- and not in a good way. The franchise hasn’t produced this poorly since 1990.
Since Babe Ruth became a Yankee in 1920, the team has ranked last or second-to-last in slugging just once (1967). The Yankees are currently 29th in MLB in slugging, ahead of only the Miami Marlins.
3. A good sign for New York: Hiroki Kuroda makes his first start at home since July 12 (last four starts have come on the road). He owns the AL’s best home ERA at 1.74 and is 6-2 in 10 starts in the Bronx. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past 13⅔ innings at home.
Kuroda allowed three earned runs in his last start against the Chicago White Sox. He has made six starts this season immediately following an outing in which he gave up at least three earned runs, going 2-1 with a 1.22 ERA in those appearances.
4. Mike Trout has been on an unreal tear at the plate since facing the Yankees earlier this season. That series started June 14 and since then, he has batted .379, with a .502 OBP and .605 slugging percentage, good for a 1.107 OPS in those 49 games. He has reached base by hit or walk in 33 straight games, the longest active streak in MLB.
5. After joining the Angels on a lucrative five-year contract this offseason, Josh Hamilton has been a shell of his former self, but his drop-off actually began last year.
He has batted .232 with a .299 OBP in 210 games since June 1, 2012 (he has made over 890 plate appearances over this span).
Odds and Ends
• Alex Rodriguez has hit 70 career homers against the Angels, his most against any team. After hitting a home run yesterday, Rodriguez is looking to homer in back-to-back games for the first time since last September.
• Josh Hamilton has hit just .175 with runners in scoring position this season. Last year he hit .296.
• The Angels are 6-17 in their past 23 games in the Bronx (including playoffs) and 6-15 in the regular season all time at the new Yankee Stadium.
August, 5, 2013
By John Carr, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports
Alex Rodriguez is eligible to return to the Yankees’ lineup while his suspension is appealed.
Despite news of his suspension from baseball through the 2014 season, Alex Rodriguez should return to the New York Yankees’ lineup for the first time in 2013 Monday night. Rodriguez is eligible to play while his appeal is processed, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that if Rodriguez is available, he will play him.
What does Rodriguez bring to a team that is 9.5 games out of first place in the AL East and fighting for playoff contention with 52 games left?
The Yankees have been ravaged by injuries this season, with more than 35 combined All-Star selections missing significant time. As of July 10, the Yankees had more payroll on the disabled list (more than $97M) than 16 teams’ entire Opening Day payroll. With Rodriguez’s return, the Yankees get their highest paid player ($29M) back on the field.
The not-so-hot corner
For all the talk of Rodriguez’s decline, the Yankees have had a difficult time replacing him. Yankee third-basemen have been among the least productive in baseball all season, ranking last or next-to-last in the league in home runs, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage.
When taking a look at his numbers from last season, even a down year for Rodriguez was more productive than what the Bronx Bombers have had at third this season.
Through 122 games last season, Rodriguez had a slugging percentage of .430 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI. This season’s Yankee third-basemen have a slugging percentage of .285, 4 HR and only 32 RBI.
Superstar in decline
Postseason difficulties have haunted Rodriguez throughout his career. He was great in the 2009 postseason, batting .365 with six home runs and a slugging percentage of .808, but that appears to be an outlier.
Last postseason, he batted .120 while striking out in 12 of his 25 at-bats. His struggles against right-handed pitching were magnified, as he failed to record a single hit in 18 at-bats against righties.
During the postseason, pitchers beat Rodriguez with fastballs inside. His performance against such pitches has declined considerably in the last few years. His batting average against inside fastballs dropped from .349 to .267 from 2011 to 2012. In 2010, he was striking out 11.8 percent of the time on these pitches, whereas last season that number jumped to 17.1 percent.
Rodriguez is tied with Lou Gehrig for the most grand slams all time (23) and needs 13 home runs to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.
Aside from Rodriguez, only Barry Bonds and Willie Mays have 600 home runs and 300 stolen bases in their career.
With Rodriguez less than 100 hits away from 3,000 in his career, he could join Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players with 600 home runs and 3,000 hits in a career.
July, 22, 2013
By Will Cohen, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsYu Darvish, who makes his return from the DL, struck out an MLB-leading 157 batters prior to the All-Star break, the most since Curt Schilling (186) and Randy Johnson (171) in 2002.
Here are five stats our broadcast crew will likely be talking about during Monday night’s game.
1. The American League’s strikeout leader, Yu Darvish, makes his return from the DL after missing just one start.
He’ll hope to get back on track after failing to complete seven innings in each of his past four starts, a stretch over which he’s posted a 4.50 ERA.
Darvish throws a variety of pitches, but his approach against righties and lefties is completely different. He’s mainly a fastball-slider pitcher against righties while lefties can only guess what could be coming.
2. Alex Rodriguez was expected to make his season debut tonight, but instead will remain out of action due to a grade 1 quad strain. This season, Yankees third basemen have combined to hit .220 with only four home runs and 27 RBI, ranking them next-to-last in the majors in each category. In fact, David Adams (now playing in Triple A) was the last New York third baseman to hit a home run, but that came all the way back on May 22.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have not had fewer than 10 home runs in a season from the third base position since 1996 (six) and they haven’t had fewer than 50 RBI from that position since 1991 (39).
3. Ichiro Suzuki is 7-for-14 in his career against Darvish, with his .500 batting average being the highest of any batter against him (min. 10 at-bats).
Ichiro is two hits shy of becoming the third active player with 2,700 hits, joining teammates Derek Jeter and Rodriguez.
4. The Yankees trail the division-leading Boston Red Sox by seven games entering tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New York won a league or division title when trailing by seven or more games at any point after the All-Star break only once. That was in 1978 when the team trailed the Red Sox by 14 games and came back to win the AL East.
5. New York has taken the season series from the Rangers in seven of the last nine seasons (tied 4-4 in 2010, lost 4-3 in 2008).
After dropping two of three in the Bronx earlier this year, the Yankees will have to win three of the four games this week to take the season series.
• Since rejoining the Yankees rotation, Ivan Nova is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last two starts, completing eight innings in both appearances (the first time in his career he’s gone at least eight innings in consecutive appearances).
• Robinson Cano is hitting .415 with a .519 OBP over a Yankees season-high 12-game hit streak. He’s also driven in 12 runs in that span, including two in each of the last two games.
• Mariano Rivera has 38 career saves against the Rangers, the most against them by any pitcher, a dozen more than Rollie Fingers, who ranks second.
• The Rangers began the season 19-8 at home, but have gone 8-14 since. Fourteen of the team’s first 17 games post-All-Star break are at home. They haven’t started this stretch in a positive manner as the Baltimore Orioles just completed a weekend sweep.
• Adrian Beltre has hit eight home runs this month, tied with Alfonso Soriano for the most in the majors in July.
July, 18, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyChris Davis had a prodigious first half, and he isn't the only player looking to rewrite the record book.After four days off, all 30 MLB teams are back on the diamond on Friday. We get you ready for the key statistical storylines for the season’s second half.
WILL DAVIS CONTINUE TO CRUSH?
Chris Davis has had a career year –- and the season isn’t even 100 games old yet. Davis begins his unofficial second half with 37 home runs, 93 RBI and a .315 batting average.
Who else has hit those thresholds in their team’s first 96 games? The list is short -- only Babe Ruth (1921 and 1928) and Jimmie Foxx (1932).
He is on pace to hit 62 home runs, which would break the American League record of 61 by Roger Maris in 1961. And with 64 extra-base hits so far he could threaten Babe Ruth’s record of 119 in 1921.
CAN CABRERA TRIPLE HIS PLEASURE AGAIN?
Davis isn’t the only player tearing things up in the AL. Miguel Cabrera is first in the league with a .365 average and 95 RBI and trails only Davis with 30 home runs.
Entering this season, the only player to finish in the top five in each Triple Crown category a year after winning the Triple Crown was Frank Robinson in 1967. Only four players have led the league in any triple-crown category while defending the Triple Crown, and none have led more than one the following year.
WHAT OTHER SINGLE-SEASON MARKS ARE WITHIN REACH?
• Manny Machado has 39 doubles at the break, the most since Edgar Martinez had 42 in 1996. On his current pace, he’ll threaten Earl Webb’s record of 67 two-baggers in 1931. No player has hit 60 doubles in a season since 1936.
• Raul Ibanez has discovered the fountain of youth. Ibanez has hit 24 home runs this season and only needs six more to pass the 29 that Ted Williams hit in 1960 for the most by a player aged 41 or over.
• Clayton Kershaw entered the break with a 1.98 ERA. The last pitcher to post an ERA below 2.00 for a full season was Roger Clemens in 2005. The only Dodgers pitcher to do so since the club moved to Los Angeles was Sandy Koufax, who did so three times.
• So far this season, 19.75 percent of plate appearances have ended in a strikeout. That’s the most ever before the All-Star break, and just a fraction below last year’s full-season record of 19.78 percent.
• Derek Jeter is 10th on the all-time hit list with 3,305 career hits, but should surpass Eddie Collins (3,313) and Paul Molitor (3,319) to move into eighth place before the season ends.
Jeter could also move into the Top 10 all-time in runs scored. He has touched home 1,869 times in his career, 19 behind Lou Gehrig for 10th all-time and 29 behind teammate Alex Rodriguez for ninth.
• His power hasn’t been as prodigious since joining the Los Angeles Angels, but Albert Pujols is still climbing up the all-time home run list. He needs 10 home runs in the second half to become the 26th player in major-league history with 500 home runs.
April, 22, 2013
By John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Brian BlancoCC Sabathia has struggled against the Rays since joining the Yankees, going 3-8 in 18 starts.
New York went 2-7 at Tampa Bay last season and is 9-18 over the last three years at Tropicana Field. From 2007-09, the Yankees won 15 of the 27 games played in Florida against the Rays.
CC Sabathia will take the mound tonight looking to reverse his fortune against the Rays on the road. The Yankees are just 6-12 in Sabathia’s last 18 starts against Tampa Bay, and just 1-7 in his eight starts at Tropicana Field since he joined the team in 2009!
Sabathia has gotten off to a good start this season, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sabathia has never won more than three games in April in his previous 12 career seasons. He won three in April for the Cleveland Indians in 2007 and three of the Yankees in both 2010 and 2012. For all other months combined, he’s won at least four games 20 times.
Opposing Sabathia will be Matt Moore, who is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts this season. His fastball has been great this season (he averages 92 MPH on that pitch), but his offspeed pitches have been even better.
However, he’ll have to be careful throwing changeups to Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells, who are hitting .556 (ninth) and .500 (11th) against changeups, respectively, this season.
So far in the early going, these two teams could not be further apart in terms of offensive production. Despite missing Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees offense keeps humming, and hitting home runs. New York ranks in the top five in baseball in slugging percentage (.467, 2nd), batting average (.273, 3rd), and OBP (.339, 5th).
With all the power the Yankees are missing – nine of their top 10 home run hitters from last season are not on the roster – power was expected to be at a premium. However, they have already hit 27 home runs so far this season, good for third-best in the majors.
As for the Rays, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to offense this season. Part of it is due to an incredibly low batting average on balls in play (.260, last in the majors).
Stat of the Game
Evan Longoria is 14-for-39 (.359) with three doubles and five home runs against Sabathia. That is Longoria’s most home runs against any pitcher and only Alfonso Soriano (six) has hit more home runs against Sabathia than Longoria (Jermaine Dye has also hit five home runs against Sabathia).
October, 18, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Paul SancyaAlex Rodriguez and his teammates will have an eventful offseason.
There will be much scrutiny of the most famous franchise in sports, whose season ended in ignominious fashion with elimination in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
The Yankees never led in the series, only the second time in their history that they’ve been beaten in that fashion (the other was in the 1963 World Series) and had some of their weaknesses exposed in October.
An ugly ending
The Yankees were swept in a postseason series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS (against the Kansas City Royals), and swept in a best-of-7 for the first time since the 1976 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Yankees had played 36 straight postseason series without being swept. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the longest such streak in major-league history.
The Yankees .188 batting average in the 2012 postseason is the lowest in MLB postseason history by any team that played at least seven games.
They scored just 22 runs in nine games, for an average of 2.4 runs per game. That's the fourth-fewest runs per game in a single postseason by any team that played at least seven games.
How ugly was the final game?
The 8-1 loss matched the team’s worst in any postseason elimination game. They lost 9-2 to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and they lost 10-3 to the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
How did this happen?
The Yankees offense disappeared in the postseason. The combination of Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano went a combined 14-for-125 with one home run.
Rodriguez was 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and was 0-for-18 against right-handed pitching this postseason. He missed on 20 of the 44 swings he took against righties.
Cano endured a 29 at-bat hitless drought, the worst in major-league history for a player in postseason play.
The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers threw nearly two-thirds of their pitches to him on the outer-third of the strike zone, or off the outside corner. Of the 37 outs Cano made this postseason, 29 were on pitches to that area.
Granderson was hitless in 11 at-bats in the LCS, the third-worst 0-for by a Yankees player in a postseason series (surpassed by Mark Teixeira’s 0-for-14 in the 2010 ALCS and Joe Gordon’s 0-for-12 in the 1952 World Series). Opponents finished Granderson with offspeed stuff. He made 19 of his 27 outs this postseason on curves, sliders, and changeups.
Swisher was 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, with the hit coming with the Yankees down by six runs and the four outs coming when the score of games was within two runs.
Swisher is 2-for-36 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position. His .056 batting average in those situations is the worst all-time.
The Yankees scored in only three of 39 innings (7.7 percent) in the ALCS. According to Elias, that is the lowest percentage of innings with a runs scored in a single postseason series since the 1966 Dodgers scored in 2 of 36 innings in their loss to the Orioles.
The historical precedent for the Yankees being swept in a postseason series is that they come back strong the next year.
In 1922, they were swept by the New York Giants (though one game ended tied) and bounced back by winning the World Series the next year.
In 1963, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but returned to the World Series in 1964, only to lose in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1976, they got swept by the Reds, but with the help of free-agent signee Reggie Jackson (who hit three home runs 35 years ago Thursday) beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in each of the next two World Series.
In 1980, they were swept in the LCS by the Kansas City Royals. They went a step further the next season, but blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Dodgers in the World Series.
Look for the Yankees to make an attempt to get younger. The average age of the Yankees roster was 32 years old, oldest in the majors.
The Yankees will also face a decision on what to do about Rodriguez, whose OPS has declined in each of the last five seasons.
Rodriguez ranks 35th in position player Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2009 season.
October, 16, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesThe Tigers have lost seven of 11 starts by Justin Verlander against the Yankees since 2009.
The Yankees were shut out in 20 of 21 innings in Games 1 and 2 at Yankee Stadium, with their only four runs coming during their near-miraculous rally in the ninth inning of Game 1.
Justin Verlander Stats to Watch
The Yankees have had success against Verlander in the last four seasons, winning seven of the 11 starts he’s made against them, including the postseason.
Since the start of 2009, Verlander has consistently used the strategy of pitching to his arm side (inside to righties, away to lefties) when facing the Yankees. Nearly 80 percent of his pitches thrown have been in this location, compared to 70 percent for all other teams since 2009.
However, this approach has not always been successful in keeping the Yankees off the basepaths. The Yankees have hit .294 in at-bats ending in a Verlander pitch to the arm side since 2009; the rest of the league has hit just .216 in those same situations.
Phil Hughes Stats to Watch
The last time Hughes faced Verlander was on June 3 in Detroit. Hughes outdueled the Tigers ace, recording his first career nine-inning complete-game victory and limiting the Tigers to just one run on four hits.
Hughes challenged the Tigers with his fastball, throwing the pitch a season-high 81 percent of the time. He was most effective when locating it in the upper half of the zone or above, netting him 15 outs and just one hit allowed.
However, Hughes later made a start against the Tigers on August 7 and really struggled, giving up four runs before getting pulled in the fifth inning. The Tigers pounded his curveball, with four hits (including two doubles) in eight at-bats ending in the pitch.
Matchups to Watch
Verlander has dominated some of the Yankee lefties and switch-hitters:
• Mark Teixeira is 3-for-35 (.086) against Verlander, including 0-for-his-last-15. That is his worst batting average against any pitcher (minimum 20 at-bats).
• Nick Swisher is 11-for-61 (.180) with 23 strikeouts vs Verlander. However, seven of those 11 hits have gone for extra bases, including three homers.
• Robinson Cano is 7-for-38 (.184) against Verlander with no home runs. The 38 at-bats are his third-most without a homer against a pitcher. But he’s 3-for-10 with a triple against Verlander this season.
One matchup that might give Hughes trouble is Miguel Cabrera, who is 9-for-22 (.409) with four home runs against him. Cabrera is the only player to take Hughes deep four times; the four home runs also match Cabrera’s most against any pitcher.
Verlander doesn’t seem like the obvious pitcher that Alex Rodriguez would feel good about facing right now. Rodriguez is hitless in 18 at-bats with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching this postseason. However, he is 4-for-6 with two home runs against Verlander this season.
Stat of Game
Entering this postseason, 23 teams had lost the first two games at home in a best-of-seven series.
According to Elias, only three have come back to win the series: the Royals beat the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series, the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, and the Yankees beat the Braves in the 1996 World Series.
-- Dan Braunstein, Katie Sharp and Mark Simon contributed to this post
October, 13, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireOnly one American League pitcher had a better called strikeout percentage than Doug Fister.
The Yankees and Tigers will meet in the postseason for the third time, and second time in as many years. However, this is the first time they will meet in the ALCS.
New York's ace delivered the Yankees to the ALCS on Friday, and now they will turn to an old stand-by in the series opener on Saturday.
Forty-year-old Andy Pettitte will make his 44th career postseason start, and Game 1 will be his 15th in the League Championship Series. With the Yankees, Pettitte is 7-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 12 LCS starts.
If Pettitte earns one more win in the LCS, he will tie Dave Stewart (8-0) for the most wins in LCS history.
Two Tigers have had Pettitte’s number in the past, and we’re not talking about Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder. Including the postseason, Delmon Young is 13-for-24 (.542 BA) against Pettitte, the highest batting average among players who have faced him at least 20 times. Jhonny Peralta is 7-for-18 (.389 BA) against Pettitte, with six extra-base hits, including three home runs.
As for Cabrera, he’s a lifetime .383 hitter at New Yankee Stadium, with seven home runs in 56 plate appearances.
Opposing Pettitte will be Doug Fister. His called strike percentage during the regular season was 37.7 percent, the sixth-best among starting pitchers. In the second half of the season, Fister had an American League-best 39 called strikeouts. Overall, 61 of his 137 strikeouts were called (44.5 percent), the second-highest percentage among American League starters (see chart).
With Fister's ability to get called third strikes, will that impact whether Alex Rodriguez is in the starting lineup? He is 1-for-9 against Fister with three strikeouts, including an 0-for-4 in last season’s ALDS. What's more, Rodriguez led the Yankees with 37 called strikeouts during the regular season.
October, 12, 2012
By insideredit | ESPN.com
Dale Zanine/US PresswireJason Hammel has allowed only 2 hits in 17 at-bats that end with a slider against the Yankees in four games this season, including his Game 1 start.
The Orioles are 1-3 in winner-take-all postseason games, with their only win coming against the Texas Rangers in the AL wild-card game this year. The Yankees have lost three straight such games (their last win came in 2003 against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS).
Let’s take a closer look at today’s pitching matchup.
Jason Hammel's key: Slider
For Hammel to help the Orioles to their second straight winner-take-all victory, he’ll need continued success with his slider.
In four games against the Yankees this season, Hammel has held them to two hits in 17 at-bats with the slider (0-for-5 in Game 1 of the ALDS).
CC Sabathia's key: Pitching inside to righties
The key for Sabathia to have success is pitching inside to righties.
In Game 1, Orioles righties were 1-for-10 in at-bats ending with a Sabathia pitch inside. For the season, Baltimore is 7-for-39 with 14 strikeouts against Sabathia in at-bats ending with a pitch inside.
In Game 1, 22 of Sabathia’s 28 offerings to righties inside were with the fastball and just three were sliders (he averaged 14 fastballs and 14 sliders in three regular season starts).
Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano struggled in Game 4, going a combined 1-for-15 with five strikeouts. For the series, they are 5-for-50 with 19 strikeouts. Of the 50 outs, 25 have come on pitches in the strike zone.
The Yankees aren’t the only team to have high-profile players struggling in this series. Baltimore’s Adam Jones hit .287 with 32 home runs in his breakout 2012 campaign, but he’s putting up one of the worst performances in a postseason in some time, hitting .105 with no walks in the series.
In fact, when you factor in the wild-card game against the Rangers, Jones is hitting .091 with a .178 OPS. It’s also clear that the Yankees can survive a lesser A-Rod, but Jones is crucial for the Orioles.
There can be no denying that Jones is seeing significantly more breaking balls in this postseason than he did during the regular season, and he’s chasing a lot more pitches overall than he did in the regular season.
Did you know?
After a historically close race for the division title (the Yankees and Orioles were separated by no more than 1.5 games from Sept. 3 through Oct. 2), the two teams are engaged in a similar battle inning by inning in the ALDS.
Through the first four games of the series, the score of the game has been either tied or within one run after 41 of the 43 innings played! Only a five-run ninth inning in Game 1 for the Yankees, which broke a 2-2 tie, and the Orioles scoring a sixth-inning run to take a 3-1 lead in Game 2 (which the Yankees immediately answered next half-inning with a run) have prevented the teams being within one run of each other after every inning of the series.
Elias says with the scoring margin no greater than one run in 41 of 43 innings in 95.3 percent of the innings played would stand as the highest in major league history. The “current” record is the 1970 NLCS between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates (24 of 28 innings, .857 pct in three games). The record for a series of at least five games is the 1980 NLCS between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies (41 of 50 innings, .820 pct).
October, 11, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Peter MorganRaul Ibanez had plenty to celebrate after his walk-off homer.
The Baltimore Orioles were winning Wednesday’s Game 3 against the Yankees on the power of three rookies -- Ryan Flaherty, Manny Machado and Miguel Gonzalez.
But this game would not be won with youth. It would be won by the experience of New York Yankees veteran Raul Ibanez, who provided the first ultra-dramatic moments of the 2012 postseason in his two at-bats.
Inside the history books
The 40-year-old Ibanez became the oldest player to hit a postseason walk-off home run. He’s the first player to hit two home runs in the ninth inning or later of a postseason game.
He’s the first Yankees player to hit a game-tying postseason home run in the ninth inning since the man he pinch-hit for, Alex Rodriguez, had two in 2009.
He’s the oldest player with two home runs in a postseason game and the first player with a multi-homer game off the bench in postseason play.
The home run was the 12th postseason walk-off home run in Yankees history. The team with the next-most is the Red Sox, with five.
Inside the Matchup: Ibanez vs Jim Johnson
The game-tying home run is an Ibanez specialty. He had three during the regular season in the seventh inning or later, including a 13th-inning homer against the Athletics and a ninth-inning homer against the Red Sox in the final two weeks of the season.
It came against a 94-mph sinker thrown over the heart of the plate. Our pitch-tracking software describes it as “middle-middle,” meaning the middle-third of the strike zone height-wise and width-wise.
Ibanez is the rare hitter who doesn’t blow you away with his “middle-middle” numbers. He had 12 hits against pitches to that spot, but also 34 outs. His .255 batting average against middle-middle pitches was the lowest of anyone on the Yankees in the regular season.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson had gotten away with that pitch at the end of the regular season. From Aug. 4 to the end of the regular season, he threw 24 middle-middle pitches, resulting in eight outs and no hits.
In Game 1 of the ALDS he threw a middle-middle pitch to Ibanez, who grounded it for a single to right field. He threw another that Robinson Cano lined for a two-run double. Those balls stayed in the ballpark.
The next one he threw would not.
Inside the Matchup: Ibanez vs Brian Matusz
Raul Ibanez has 61 at-bats against left-handed pitching during the regular season. He hit .197 with no home runs in those turns and missed on 30 percent of his swings.
Ibanez was 0-for-4 in at-bats versus lefties that ended on the first pitch.
Matusz had been dominant against left-handed hitters recently. He’d gotten big outs this postseason against Josh Hamilton and Curtis Granderson. Lefties were 0 for their last 10 with seven strikeouts against him.
Matusz threw Ibanez a pitch in the upper third of the strike zone on the outer third of the plate. The last time he allowed a hit to a lefty on a pitch to that spot was against the Yankees on May 1. Granderson hit one for a home run in the Bronx.
He’d throw it 54 times since that home run without giving up another hit. Until he faced Ibanez.
Stat of the Night: Inside the loss
The Orioles were unbeaten when leading after seven innings in the regular season, had won their previous 16 extra-inning games, and were the only team since 1900 not to lose a game in walk-off fashion during a regular season.
All of those streaks and trends were broken with that home run.
October, 10, 2012
By Mark Simon & John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
What’s wrong with Alex Rodriguez?
The New York Yankees third baseman is 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in this series against the Baltimore Orioles. And is 3-for-27 with 11 strikeouts in the last two postseasons overall.
His postseason performance, other than 2009, has been a bit of an issue.
Consider some of these career numbers.
He’s hitting .175 with 23 strikeouts in 57 postseason at-bats with runners in scoring position.
He’s hitting .129 with 13 strikeouts in 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs.
His batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage slashline is .237/.343/.412 with runners on base.
Rodriguez has not homered in his last 70 postseason at-bats (the longest streak of his career). Since his last postseason homer (October 31, 2009), he is hitting an even .200 in postseason play.
What’s his current issue
Rodriguez is having trouble catching up to fastballs.
He struck out against a 96 mile-per-hour sinker from Orioles closer Jim Johnson to end Game 2.
Rodriguez had 13 strikeouts on pitches at least 96-MPH or faster in the regular season, which tied for fifth-most in baseball, despite the fact he missed 40 games.
But speed hasn’t necessarily mattered. Any fastball has been a struggle for him.
Since September 23, Rodriguez is 7-for-35 in at-bats ending with fastballs, sinkers, cutters or splitters. All seven hits are singles. Only three of the 26 balls he’s put into play have been classified by our hit-tracking system as “hard-hit.”
Rodriguez hasn’t homered since September 14 when he hit one against Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price. He has 25 strikeouts and no home runs in 77 at-bats since his last home run. He has one extra-base hit on his last 35 fly balls/line drives.
Wednesday’s Matchup: Gonzalez vs. A-Rod
Orioles Game 3 starter Miguel Gonzalez has never faced Rodriguez, so what can the Yankees slugger expect to see?
As we noted last night the Orioles have done a nice job working the edges of the plate against A-Rod. They’ve thrown 40 of their 47 pitches to Rodriguez in this series to the inner-third (or off the inside corner) or the outer-third (or off the outside corner) of home plate.
Gonzalez is more apt to work the outside part of the plate, as the numbers show that he’s much more likely to work a right-handed hitter away than inside.
It makes sense for the Orioles to keep pitching Rodriguez away until he proves he can hit a pitch to that area with authority.
Since September 7 (including the first two games of this series), Rodriguez has seen 211 pitches on the outer-third of the plate, or off the outside corner.
Those 211 have resulted in 28 outs, six walks, and only two hits, both singles.
Narrow that even further to the 82 pitches that have been on the outside corner.
Those have resulted in 18 outs and just one hit.
October, 9, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesBaltimore Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen became only the fifth Orioles starting pitcher to win his postseason debut, while also allowing two runs or fewer.
The Baltimore Orioles tied their American League Division Series at one apiece with a 3-2 win against the New York Yankees on Monday.
Leading the way was Orioles rookie Wei-Yin Chen, who allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings to earn his first win since Aug. 19 (Chen was 0-4 in his previous seven starts).
One key to Chen’s success Monday? His slider.
Chen threw 21 sliders, matching his second-highest total of the year, and got a season-high seven outs with the pitch. The Yankees put nine of Chen's sliders in play, hitting eight on the ground and popping up the other on the infield.
He went to his slider more as the game went on. The first time through the order, Chen threw his slider 11 percent of the time (four sliders out of 36 pitches). He doubled his slider usage the next two-plus times through the order, accounting for 22 percent of his pitches in that stretch.
And when Chen left the game, the Orioles' bullpen finished strong, with three pitchers combining for 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
In one of the biggest moments of the game, Brian Matusz came on in relief and got the job done for the Orioles.
With runners at second and third (who advanced from first and second base on his own wild pitch), Matusz got Nick Swisher to fly out to end the seventh inning.
Swisher fell to 1-for-20 in his career against Matusz (regular season and postseason combined), and is just 1-for-33 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position.
Matusz has simply reinvented himself, going from a bad starter (5.42 ERA, 6.6 strikeouts/nine innings, 1.71 WHIP this season) to a dominant reliever (1.13 ERA, 13.5 strikeouts/nine innings, 0.69 WHIP).
How they got A-Rod out
Alex Rodriguez struck out to end Game 2 and is now 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in the series.
This marked the fourth time that Rodriguez has struck out to end a postseason game, the most game-ending whiffs in postseason history.
Rodriguez has missed on 11 of his 23 swings this postseason. He has missed on four of five swings against breaking balls, including the slider on which Darren O’Day struck him out during the Yankees' seventh-inning scoring threat.
The Orioles have done a nice job working the edges of the plate. They’ve thrown 40 of their 47 pitches to Rodriguez in this series to the inner-third (or off the inside corner) or the outer-third (or off the outside corner) of home plate.
Rodriguez hit .227 in at-bats that ended with pitches to those edges during the regular season, with a miss rate of 28 percent. That miss rate ranked second worst of the 13 Yankees with the most plate appearances during the regular season, trailing only Curtis Granderson’s 31 percent.