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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barra: Alex Rodriguez Was Framed

Let’s consider it from a historical perspective. Mickey Mantle is the demi-God of Yankees postseason play (though, of course, Mickey’s postseason games were all World Series because the playoffs didn’t start until 1969, the year after he retired). Mantle played in 65 postseason games, 10 fewer than A-Rod, and batted 230 times, 16 more. His BA was .257, six points lower than A-Rod’s. Mickey hit a World-Series-record 18 home runs, five more than Rodriguez’s postseason total, but actually had one fewer RBI, 40 to 41. But Mantle was surrounded by much better hitters, most notably Yogi Berra, and pitchers, like Whitey Ford, so nobody noticed when Mantle didn’t come through because somebody else on the Yankees usually did.  

I’m not saying Alex Rodriguez has been a better postseason or clutch performer than Mickey Mantle. I’m merely pointing out that the numbers don’t say he wasn’t.    

Let’s try one more comparison, Joe DiMaggio, a Yankee with nine World Series rings. In 51 games, DiMaggio batted 199 times in postseason play, 15 more than Alex Rodriguez. He outhit A-Rod by exactly 8 points, .271 to .263. Rodriguez has had more home runs, 13 to 8, and 11 more RBIs, 41 to 30. But no one dwelled on what DiMaggio failed to do in those World Series because the Yankees won them.  

 

bobm Posted: October 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alex rodriguez, allen barra, possible scapegoats, postseason, yankees

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   1. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: October 21, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4278184)
I'd take the Mick.
   2. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: October 21, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4278190)
Yeah, but you're counting the mariners years.
   3. Morty Causa Posted: October 21, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4278195)
Mantle's OPS is substantially better.
   4. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 21, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4278211)
The lesson here is that A-Rod, DiMaggio and Mantle were no Billy Hatcher. And Willie Mays was no Willie Mays Aikens.
   5. Balkroth Posted: October 21, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4278229)
I thought this was going to be a clever title for how A-Rod was pitched to.
   6. Morty Causa Posted: October 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4278239)
By Allen Barra?
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: October 21, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4278253)
I'm not going to do the math, but I would guess that on a percentile basis the quality of postseason pitching Rodriguez faced was far lower than the quality of pitching Mantle and DiMaggio faced.
   8. McCoy Posted: October 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4278284)
Brooklyn have a lot of good pitchers in the 50's?
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: October 21, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4278342)
Turns out I couldn't help but do the math anyway. On a percentile basis for ERA+ (to account for league expansion) and weighted by PA's in each series, DiMaggio faced 93rd percentile pitching in his World Series. Eight of ten times, he faced the #1 or #2 team in the majors in ERA+. Mantle faced 73rd percentile pitching. Rodriguez faced...... 74th percentile pitching. The only year he didn't face any particularly good pitching was 2009, where he faced the 21st (MIN), 20th (LAA), and 14th (PHI) rated staves.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 21, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4278427)
Mantle made significant contributions to the Yanks in five World Series: 1952, 1953, 1956, 1960, and 1964. I'm not going by statistics, but by the impact he had during crucial moments.

In 1952 he hit .345, and his two home runs provided the game winning margin in games 6 and 7. Jackie Robinson called him the MVP of the Series.

In 1953 his late inning home run won game 2, and his grand slam broke open the pivotal game 5.

In 1956 his 4th game home run came at a crucial point, and his 5th game home run broke up Sal Maglie's perfect game and gave Don Larsen all the run support he needed.

In 1960 Mantle had a 1.345 OPS and had a crucial 9th inning hit and baserunning maneuver that let the Yankees tie the 7th game in the top of the 9th. Since the 3 games the Yanks won were by a combined score of 38 to 3, it's hard to assign too much importance to anything he did in those games.

In 1964 his walkoff homer won game 3, his 6th inning home run in game 6 gave the Yanks an key insurance run in what was then a 2 to 1 game, and his 3 run homer in the 6th inning of game 7 brought the Yanks' deficit down from 6 runs to 3.

In 1958 he posted a 1.003 OPS but his big hits were all in garbage time and had no effect on any game's eventual outcome.

In four World Series (1951, 1955, 1957 and 1961) he was injured and either out of action or severely restricted in movement.

In 1962 and 1963 he was just terrible, no excuses.

Bottom line is that in twelve World Series, Mantle was hurt in four, had a big impact in five, stunk in two, and had deceptively high numbers in one. That's not really that bad a performance, total numbers aside. And looking at A-Rod's contributions to the Yankee postseasons, Mantle's was a lot better, even if he never had any one postseason to rival A-Rod's surreal 2009.
   11. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM (#4278466)
In ... 1963 he was just terrible, no excuses.


Koufax, Podres, and Drysdale made for a pretty good excuse, IMO. I'll never forget the ridiculous dominance of those pitchers in that series, but the numbers are still stunning every time I look them up: the Yankees hit .171/.207/.240 as a team with 5 walks and 37 strikeouts. They scored four runs in four games. They never led in any game. Mantle's game four HR was the only time in the series that they were even tied at a score other than 0-0.
   12. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 21, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4278526)
Bottom line is that in twelve World Series, Mantle was hurt in four, had a big impact in five, stunk in two, and had deceptively high numbers in one. That's not really that bad a performance, total numbers aside. And looking at A-Rod's contributions to the Yankee postseasons, Mantle's was a lot better, even if he never had any one postseason to rival A-Rod's surreal 2009.

Well, yeah. By Championship Probability Added (WPA weighted by game leverage at the time the games were played), Mantle was first all-time before this postseason started (Freese may or may not end up passing him). Finishing behind him is not exactly a demerit-worthy offense.
   13. DFA Posted: October 21, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4278618)
But Mantle was surrounded by much better hitters


Is that really true?
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 21, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4278655)
Managing erratically, Joe Girardi, in Game 3, sat A-Rod down against the dreaded Justin Verlander even though A-Rod had hit Verlander quite well over the years


I read this initially as "Managing erotically." But moving right along...

After ARod led Girardi and Cashman to the World Series in 2009, the idiots in the media and in Yankee fandom did a mea culpa and said that they would never call ARod a potseason choker again.

The idiots are back.
   15. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: October 21, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4278667)
In 1960 Mantle had a 1.345 OPS and had a crucial 9th inning hit and baserunning maneuver that let the Yankees tie the 7th game in the top of the 9th.


That baserunning maneuver was more of a baserunning error that he salvaged with an acrobatic dive, as I recall.
   16. bartap74 Posted: October 22, 2012 at 01:37 AM (#4278699)
From the Wikipedia article on the 1963 World Series:

The MVP award was given to Koufax in New York City. He was presented with a new car. As soon as they handed Koufax the keys to his new car, a New York City police officer stepped forward and handed Koufax a ticket for parking on the sidewalk.


That made me smile.
   17. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: October 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM (#4278701)
16 if that were true new york could never hope to collect on , let alone get away with it in court. None the less still fummy to think about it
   18. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 22, 2012 at 07:54 AM (#4278730)
In ... 1963 he was just terrible, no excuses.

Koufax, Podres, and Drysdale made for a pretty good excuse, IMO. I'll never forget the ridiculous dominance of those pitchers in that series, but the numbers are still stunning every time I look them up: the Yankees hit .171/.207/.240 as a team with 5 walks and 37 strikeouts. They scored four runs in four games. They never led in any game. Mantle's game four HR was the only time in the series that they were even tied at a score other than 0-0.


Well, yes. That 1963 Dodgers pitching staff was about as dominant for a short series as it's humanly possible to be. But what I meant by "no excuses" was that unlike in those four other World Series I mentioned, Mantle was in good playing condition.

----------------------------------------

But Mantle was surrounded by much better hitters


Is that really true?

Depends on the year you're talking about, but in 1963, the Yankees' team OPS+ was 99, compared to this year's team OPS+ of 112, and unlike 2012, in 1963 the Yanks were playing in a markedly inferior league. Their infield that year consisted of Joe Pepitone, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek and Clete Boyer. Nuf sed, at least to any Yankee fan who hit under the rug every time any of those four, especially the last three, ever came to bat.

----------------------------------------

In 1960 Mantle had a 1.345 OPS and had a crucial 9th inning hit and baserunning maneuver that let the Yankees tie the 7th game in the top of the 9th.

That baserunning maneuver was more of a baserunning error that he salvaged with an acrobatic dive, as I recall.


The "error" consisted of a microsecond instinct to advance around the bases on a ball that was hit like a rocket, corrected instantly by a move that enabled him rather miraculously to avoid a game-ending tag just as the tying run was scoring from third. I can't dig out quotes right now, but that game-saving second reaction was widely viewed as an act of instinctive near-genius on a play that transpired in the blink of an eye.
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: October 22, 2012 at 08:56 AM (#4278754)

"Mantle's OPS is substantially better."

A-Rod career postseason OPS: .833
Jeter career postseason OPS: .838

that settles it.

also, recall that A-Rod's postseason success before NYY does not count because it wasn't "on the big stage."
not even the 1.253 AGAINST the Yankees in 25 postseason PA counts as "big stage."

it's all spelled out in the manual...


   20. Moeball Posted: October 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4279166)
After ARod led Girardi and Cashman to the World Series in 2009, the idiots in the media and in Yankee fandom did a mea culpa and said that they would never call ARod a potseason choker again.

The idiots are back.


Ray - this points out the very nature of media today as opposed to a century ago or so. I'm not surprised at the things they say about A-Rod given that there are still a lot of writers out there who insist to this day that you couldn't ever count on Barry Bonds to deliver in the postseason because he was a perpetual "choker". Apparently they slept through the 2002 postseason when Barry went nuts. Oh, that's right, he was a cheater so that doesn't count.

More to the point, think back 90 years ago to October of 1922 - the Yankees had just lost their second straight WS to the Giants, and here were Babe Ruth's career WS batting numbers at that point:

A batting average of only .182 with only 1 HR and 15 strikeouts in 44 at-bats.

In the 1922 Series alone, Ruth had batted only .118 and driven in a total of 1 run. With today's media, particularly in NY, Ruth would have been crucified as a "choker" who couldn't deliver when it counted for the Yankees. Why did they spend all that money to get Babe from Boston? And look how much he strikes out? Clearly he can't handle the pressure of being on the Big Stage of NY. With this kind of treatment from the press, who knows how Babe would have reacted and performed in subsequent years?

Fortunately for the Babe, he had two things going for him:

1)The writers back in his day didn't froth at the mouth for an opportunity to berate players nearly to the same degree as they do today

2)He had several more opportunities to prove himself in the postseason with the Yankees going to the Series again in 1923, 1926-1928 and 1932. Over those 5 remaining Series that Babe played in, he:

-batted .400
-reached base over half the time
-hit 14 HRs and slugged .965

So part of his legend today is that he had great WS heroics such as the "called shot" in 1932 to go along with his record-setting numbers during the regular season.

That might not have been the way the narrative played out historically had he been dealing with today's media wolves.

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