Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why, Indeed?

Following up (sort of) on Jim's post about Trump's crack-back on Alex Rodriguez, we find Fox Sport.com's Tracy Ringolsby offering this nugget o' joy:

If Alex Rodriguez really is the "franchise player'' that should have the richest contract in baseball history, can someone explain why he has never played in a World Series game? He won't turn 33 until July 27 and has finished among the top 10 in MVP voting in nine of his 12 full seasons, but he ranks third among active players in terms of games played without a World Series appearance.

His one-time Seattle teammate, Ken Griffey, Jr., is at the top of the active chart, and Frank Thomas ranks second.

Not to say that a player has to be in a World Series to be considered one of the game's most talented, but the bottom line for history isn't the bottom line in a checking account but rather the success of a team. Team success is tied to championships.

Nice of him to toss in that last bit. I guess Ringolsby can admit that A-Rod is talented, even if he isn't clutch enough to make it to the World Series.

But to address his original question...why has A-Rod never played in a World Series game?

Can it be all his fault? Since signing that record contract, Rodriguez' OPS+ have been 160, 158, 147, 131, 173, 134, and 177.

For those of you who aren't guys sitting in their basements "spilling food on ourselves" (as Ozzie described it), OPS+ measures how productive a batter is relative to the league average. So in 2007, when Rodriguez was all chokin' in the clutch and stuff, he was 77% better than the average player.

I'm no rocket scientist, but I think most people would think that is pretty good. Perhaps a guy who's 77% better than the league average would be someone you'd want on your team.

So why hasn't Rodriguez been in the Fall Classic? Call me crazy, but I think these might be contributing factors, that no sane person could blame on Rodriguez' obsession with the almighty dollar:

** In 2001, out of all the Rangers' starting pitchers, the lowest ERA was Doug Davis' 4.45. Rick Helling, Kenny Rogers, and Darren Oliver starting 82 games (more than half the season) between them, and posted ERAs of 5.17, 6.19, and 6.02.

** The 2002 Rangers got their pitching together a little. Very little The league-worst 669 walks allowed may have contributed to a team ERA of 5.15.

** The '03 Texas team narrowly missed an ignominious Triple Crown -- they finished with the worst ERA (5.67) and most HR allowed (208), but managed to squeeze into thirteenth place in walks allowed (603).

Few teams have made it to the Series with pitching that bad.

** In 2004, the Yankees rolled to a 101-61 record before getting rolled themselves by Boston in the ALCS. Rodriguez put up a .258/.378/.516. Why couldn't he be as clutch as that nice Derek Jeter (.200/.333/.233)?

** Rodriguez had a famously bad 2005 ALDS versus Anaheim. So did Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson, Al Leiter, and Tanyon Sturtze. Not that anyone noticed...

** Rodriguez had a more-famously bad 2006 ALDS against the Tigers. That nice Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada were the Yankees who did squat (the team totals were .246/.289/.388). Chalk it up to four games of life sucking for the Yankees at the worst time.

** Last year, the boo-birds were all over A-Rod's .267/.353/.467 as Cleveland clobbered the Bombers in four games. Perhaps sub-par compared to what we've come to expect from Rodriguez. But perhaps the Tribe found it easier to win the best-of-five series after clobbering Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang in both his starts.

To sum up -- why hasn't Rodriguez been in a World Series? Several reasons: the Rangers were a really, really bad team when he was with them. And in his four years in New York, the Yankees have either run into better teams or just picked the wrong time to have a crappy week.

Hope this clears things up...

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