FanDuel - WFBC

October 06, 2011

Tigers Beat Yankees, Advance to ALCS: The Detroit Tigers won a 3-2 nailbiter over the New York Yankees Thursday night and advance to face the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, giving the Tigers a lead they'd never relinquish. Doug Fister got the win and Jose Valverde the save. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez struck out in the seventh with the bases loaded and in the ninth to end the game.

posted by rcade to baseball at 11:46 PM - 51 comments

Didn't think the Yankees could lose this game. Maybe I'm just reacting to his rep, but A Rod looked like he had no chance of getting a hit in his final two at bats.

posted by rcade at 12:11 AM on October 07

Again.

2018 can't come soon enough for Yankee fans.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:13 AM on October 07

Maybe I'm just reacting to his rep, but A Rod ...

The problem is that his rep is not really based in fact (at least to the extent you are talking about a rep for being a postseason choker). Not including today's game, A-Rod has a .282/.389/.506 line (895 OPS). Yes, this is lower than his career stats of .302/.386./567 (953 OPS), but by no means a choker-type of line. Jeter, who is supposedly such a clutch playoff performer, has a career postseason line of .307/.375/.468 (842 OPS), a tick higher than his career OPS (slightly lower BA and OBP in the postseason, but higher SLG) but still less impressive than A-Rod's playoff numbers (albeit in a larger sample).

Yankees lost not because some particular player did not show up to play, but rather because anyone can get hot or cold over 5 games and anything can happen in a 5-game series. Also, don't think Girardi necessarily did himself any favors with his lineup construction.

posted by holden at 12:34 AM on October 07

Nick Swisher struck out with the bases loaded in the 7th to end the inning.

Russell Martin and Brett Gardner weakly popped out with the bases loaded in the 4th to end the inning.

Robinson Cano flied out with two men on base to end the 3rd inning.

Derek Jeter (in his last clutch possibility of the season) flied out with a man on base to end the 8th inning.

It looks like the Yankees failed as a group at the plate, so I'm not sure why ARod gets singled out for notice.

posted by grum@work at 12:49 AM on October 07

He's baseball's highest-paid player and another Yankees season ended in misery with the bat in his hand. That catches the eye.

I can believe the numbers prove that A Rod's rep as a postseason choker is undeserved. But when he came to the plate the last time, did anyone think he'd do something great?

posted by rcade at 12:53 AM on October 07

I thought him striking out was pretty great.

posted by apoch at 03:08 AM on October 07

Man. We got fistered.

posted by phaedon at 04:14 AM on October 07

The odds of it happening are bleak, but I am tickled by the idea of an all Michigan World Series, even if it means Bud Selig's Brewers have a shot at the title.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:03 AM on October 07

Milwaukee's in Wisconsin.

posted by phaedon at 05:15 AM on October 07

Not including today's game, A-Rod has a .282/.389/.506 line (895 OPS). Yes, this is lower than his career stats of .302/.386./567 (953 OPS), but by no means a choker-type of line.

Excluding 2009, in his other 9 trips to the postseason (ignoring his 2 AB in Seattle in 1995 which really isn't a "trip"), A-Rod's line is .206/.279/.338 (617 OPS). 7 HR, 23 RBI in 242 AB.

Now, he had a wonderful 2009, but you have to understand that his peripherals outside of one season aren't exactly stellar for what you would expect from baseball's highest player...and you can understand why his reputation was earned before his one-off performance in 2009.

posted by dfleming at 06:53 AM on October 07

It looks like the Yankees failed as a group at the plate, so I'm not sure why ARod gets singled out for notice.

Exactly. The entire lineup, with only a very few exceptions, sucked this series.

As for A-Rod, he's had a terrible year, and he has looked bad with a bat in his hands since his knee and thumb issues. He shouldn't have been in the lineup (even though his defense was solid) because he has had no ability to drive the ball at all.

But as many here know, you swing the bat with dollar bills, so his contract should have meant he got a hit every time up.

posted by dyams at 06:56 AM on October 07

Excluding 2009, in his other 9 trips to the postseason (ignoring his 2 AB in Seattle in 1995 which really isn't a "trip"), A-Rod's line is .206/.279/.338 (617 OPS). 7 HR, 23 RBI in 242 AB.

Except for the time he was good, he wasn't good.
That's some cutting edge analysis.

Alex Rodriguez - Post-season

1997: .875 OPS
2000: 1.021 OPS
2004: 1.014 OPS
2005: .635 OPS
2006: .205 OPS
2007: .820 OPS
2009: 1.308 OPS
2010: .597 OPS
2011: .372 OPS

So of his 9 full time appearances in the playoffs, he's had 5 seasons where he's hit quite well, and 4 where he's hit poorly.

and you can understand why his reputation was earned before his one-off performance in 2009.

Before 2009, the split was 4 good and 2 poor, so that "reputation" seems to be undeserved.

Just for fun, the last two post-seasons:

Derek Jeter - .627 OPS

But...the reputation!

posted by grum@work at 08:27 AM on October 07

Jim Leyland is perhaps thinking: "If you want to talk about major dudes not producing in the postseason, I had a couple of big time invisible men on my Pirate teams."

posted by beaverboard at 08:47 AM on October 07

He's baseball's highest-paid player and another Yankees season ended in misery with the bat in his hand. That catches the eye.

As if those with an axe to grind didn't already have it out.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:06 AM on October 07

The people with an axe to grind against A-Rod are Yankees fans.

A-Rod a few days ago: "One thing about the playoffs is one at-bat, one pitch can make a big difference. I'm assuming over the next day or two or three there's going to be some big at-bats that I'm going to be ready for. Two outs, scoring position all over the place, and that's something that I relish."

He got exactly what he wanted and couldn't get it done. Seventh inning. Bases loaded. One out. Long fly ball ties the game. Single puts the Yankees ahead.

posted by rcade at 09:21 AM on October 07

Excluding 2009, in his other 9 trips to the postseason (ignoring his 2 AB in Seattle in 1995 which really isn't a "trip"), A-Rod's line is .206/.279/.338 (617 OPS). 7 HR, 23 RBI in 242 AB.

You can tell just about any story you want if you choose the end points or sample selectively. The postseason is already such a small sample (A-Rod has just under 300 postseason plate appearances, less than half of an injury-free regular season), that I am not sure why it makes sense to exclude almost a quarter of his plate appearances. A-Rod's postseason career outside of 2009 (in which he had the most PA of any playoff year, by the way) amounts to having a bad April and part of May or something like that; I am just not sure it tells us a whole lot.

I agree that his performance pre-2009 was less-than-stellar, but 2009 should have at least helped correct the narrative, but it has not. I suspect there's something more at work that makes people want to point the finger at A-Rod -- probably his salary, his demeanor, his all around persona, and the fact that he is not Jeter.

[On edit -- what grum said as well]

posted by holden at 09:43 AM on October 07

No matter how you slice it, A-Rod performs worse during the postseason than he does during the regular season. Isn't that how he got his reputation?

posted by bperk at 10:01 AM on October 07

The guy has a history of coming up small in all of the big opportunities. 2009, his "markee" Yankee playoff year, he hit .250 in the World Series and struck out 8 times. It was Jeter, Matsui, and Damon who elevated their games well beyond their regular season output and carried that team to the championship.

Also, don't think Girardi necessarily did himself any favors with his lineup construction

Joe Torre he is not.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:46 AM on October 07

Oh, come on.

Now, to make a point, we're chopping his good playoff performances up and looking for the bad parts from them?

Fine.

Remember the great collapse of 2004, when the vaunted Yankees did the unthinkable and lost 4 straight to the Red Sox after leading 3-0 in the ALCS? Derek Jeter put up a .567 OPS to help lead the charge to the worst playoff moment in Yankees history.

Derek Jeter put up a putrid .438 OPS in the 2001 World Series.
Remember that one? All the New York hype because of 9/11?
He shit the bed big time in the biggest World Series of his career.

In 1998, playing for the what some consider one of the best teams of all time, Jeter was carried to the World Series by his teammates, putting up a .384 and .579 OPS in the first two rounds.


No matter how you slice it, A-Rod performs worse during the postseason than he does during the regular season. Isn't that how he got his reputation?

Quick note:

It's the playoffs. It's the best teams in the league. You don't generally see bad pitching in the playoffs, so of course most batters perform worse during the playoffs compared to the regular season.

Derek Jeter, super-clutch-tastic-ultra-hero, has an .839 OPS in the post-season (a whopping .007 better than his regular season numbers)...which is still worse than Alex Rodriguez and his .884 OPS.

World Series OPS (7 game series):
ARod - .973
Jeter - .832

ALCS OPS (7 game series):
ARod - 1.047
Jeter - .756

posted by grum@work at 11:01 AM on October 07

Derek Jeter isn't as good a player as A-Rod, that is not news. But, Jeter plays in the playoffs (without bad pitching as you say), and he performs the same or slightly better than he does in the playoffs, right? You say most players don't, but Jeter does. A-Rod does not. It isn't a comparison between A-Rod and Jeter who is the better player. Derek Fisher (or Robert Horry) is a clutch player, but he isn't a better player than Kobe or Lebron. He just elevates his own play for the playoffs.

posted by bperk at 11:19 AM on October 07

Except for the time he was good, he wasn't good.
That's some cutting edge analysis.

I pointed out how wonderful 2009 was, but don't let that stop you from being a dick about it.

So of his 9 full time appearances in the playoffs, he's had 5 seasons where he's hit quite well, and 4 where he's hit poorly

For a mere mortal, sure, but based on his career averages, he had three OPS' over his career average and six under. I think for most people, the definition for a choker is someone who performs worse when the spotlight is on, and 2/3 of the time, that's A-Rod.

Rodriguez isn't being paid to be a .800 OPS player. His bar should be higher than that.

You don't generally see bad pitching in the playoffs, so of course most batters perform worse during the playoffs compared to the regular season.

So far, we've seen A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, Doug Fister, Joe Saunders, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Effing Moore make starts in the postseason. Does that look like the cream of the crop to you?

posted by dfleming at 11:19 AM on October 07

Point taken, stats don't tell the whole story.

Then ask yourself - has there ever been a year while with the Yankees that ARod is the one player on the roster you would want to see at bat in a key situation during the playoffs? Can you remember a key hit he got?

Easy No to both.

Jeter, all the over-blown hype aside, has. He also came within a few feet of doing it again last night even though he didn't hit a ball out of the infield for 90 percent of the season.

I doubt you'd argue that the "NY is the center of the baseball universe" sports media would force feed us a steady dose of ARod (just as badly they do Jeter) if he had any level of success, and that tells a tale in itself.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:28 AM on October 07

I doubt you'd argue that the "NY is the center of the baseball universe" sports media would force feed us a steady dose of ARod (just as badly they do Jeter) if he had any level of success, and that tells a tale in itself.

I don't think the NY media are necessarily known for creating heroes out of their sports stars; if anything, it's very hit/miss and whatever rep you get from the getgo, that typically is what follows you around.

posted by dfleming at 11:36 AM on October 07

I thought him striking out was pretty great.

Me too. Love when the Big $$ teams get sent home early.

Jim Leyland is perhaps thinking: "If you want to talk about major dudes not producing in the postseason, I had a couple of big time invisible men on my Pirate teams."

So so true. Bonds and Bonilla were often seen on milk cartons during the playoff in Pittsburgh. Dont have time to look up BA's, but know they were not hitting their weight in the playoffs, and Bonds was alot lighter then.

posted by Debo270 at 12:09 PM on October 07

Then ask yourself - has there ever been a year while with the Yankees that ARod is the one player on the roster you would want to see at bat in a key situation during the playoffs?

Yes.

2009.

Can you remember a key hit he got?

How about five of them?

Game 2, ALDS vs Minnesota.
Bottom of the 9th, the Yankees are trailing 3-1 and he hits a game-tying 2-run home run, and the Yankees win in extra innings.

Game 3, ALDS vs Minnesota.
Top of the 7th, the Yankees are trailing 1-0 and he hits a game-tying home run, and the Yankees go on to win.

Game 2, ALCS vs Los Angeles.
Bottom of the 11th, the Yankees are trailing 3-2 and he hits a game-tying home run, and the Yankees go on to win.

Game 3, World Series vs Philadelphia.

Bottom of the 4th, the Yankees are trailing 3-0 and he hits a 2-run home run to put them on the board and on their way to win the game.

Game 4, World Series vs Philadelphia.
Top of the 9th, the score is tied and he hits a 2-out double to score two runs and lead the Yankees to win.

So far, we've seen A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, Doug Fister, Joe Saunders, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Effing Moore make starts in the postseason. Does that look like the cream of the crop to you?

Freddy Garcia - 122 ERA+ in 2011
Doug Fister - 139 ERA+ in 2011
Joe Saunders - 107 ERA+ in 2011
Jeremy Hellickson - 126 ERA+ in 2011

All above average pitchers. I never said "cream of the crop". I said better pitching. Which, from your examples, seems to be true.

Burnett sucked. Moore was a rookie (and still put up a 0.90 ERA in 10 innings in the post season), and you've conveniently left out pitchers like Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Verlander, Sabathia, Shields, Carpenter (which might be considered the "cream of the crop").

posted by grum@work at 12:18 PM on October 07

Wow, you guys just aren't going to let up on A-Rod no matter what the numbers say, huh? "Sure he's a better player and sure's he's got an OPS better than most players in the playoffs, but somehow that is not good enough." What would be good enough, exactly?

posted by yerfatma at 12:21 PM on October 07

So how about them Tigers? I thought they played pretty well this series.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:25 PM on October 07

Sure, your words were "you generally don't see bad pitching in the playoffs", so why would I list the ones who were good?

WAR of the pitchers I picked, and their position among qualified starters in 2011:

Doug Fister: 5.6 (I hadn't really noticed he tore it up the way he did in Detroit, so ceeded)

Freddy Garcia 2.2
AJ Burnett, 1.5
Jeremy Hellickson, 1.4
Joe Saunders, 1.0

Keep in mind that Fangraphs suggest that an average starter contributes about 2 WAR. That's a lot of sub-average pitching.

And I forgot Randy Wolf, 1.4. And Matt Moore, rookie, for all the success he had, was a two-start rookie starting a very important game.

posted by dfleming at 12:38 PM on October 07

Except for the time he was good, he wasn't good. That's some cutting edge analysis.

I pointed out how wonderful 2009 was, but don't let that stop you from being a dick about it.

Your line was: Excluding 2009, in his other 9 trips to the postseason (ignoring his 2 AB in Seattle in 1995 which really isn't a "trip"), A-Rod's line is .206/.279/.338 (617 OPS). 7 HR, 23 RBI in 242 AB.

Which is exactly what I said: "Except for the time he was good, he wasn't good."

How is that relevant to any sort of discussion? That's not even selective end points, it's deliberately removing good numbers to make a point about how bad his numbers are.

Acknowledging that he was good in 2009 doesn't make your analysis any better/more fair. If anything, it shows you know you're removing his quality results to produce a stat that shows he's bad. That's like a scientist ignoring all the data that doesn't fit his initial hypothesis. It's fraudulent.

posted by grum@work at 12:40 PM on October 07

According to Baseball Reference:

WAR
Fister: 5.7
Garcia: 3.4
Burnett: 1.1
Hellickson: 4.2
Saunders: 2.4
Wolf: 3.0

And I'll stick to my premise: You don't generally see bad pitching in the playoffs.

Good teams get in with good pitching, and then they drop their worst pitchers from the rotation/bullpen/roster when they get to the post season. That's a natural selection process that removes "bad pitching".

Obviously, an occasional sub-par pitcher gets in, but not as many as a batter would see in the regular season.

posted by grum@work at 12:56 PM on October 07

What would be good enough, exactly?

I'm guessing evidence that he's produced in the clutch probably won't do it, either.

posted by grum@work at 12:58 PM on October 07

By the way, the Fangraphs WAR calculation is based on how they think the pitcher should have performed, compared to the BBRef WAR calculation based on how the pitcher actually performed.

Explanation found here.

It explains why I prefer the BBRef calculation over the Fangraphs calculation.

posted by grum@work at 01:02 PM on October 07

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Verlander pitch more than once in a series.

posted by flannelenigma at 01:40 PM on October 07

You don't generally see bad pitching in the playoffs.

You don't see bad hitting either. What's the point? A-Rod is one of the greats of his era, but that's not true in the postseason. The discrepancy is why he's getting more blame than players from whom less is expected. This is hardly unfair.

posted by rcade at 01:42 PM on October 07

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Verlander pitch more than once in a series.

Not me. The Rangers wilted in the World Series against pitchers of his caliber.

posted by rcade at 01:43 PM on October 07

You don't see bad hitting either. What's the point?

The point is that everyone is going to have a harder time reaching their regular season numbers in the postseason because they are facing better competition. Except grum, who seems to have no problem matching his regular season form.

posted by tron7 at 01:57 PM on October 07

You don't see bad hitting either. What's the point?

The general consensus is that quality pitching beats quality hitting every time, and if you reduce the starting pitchers from 5 to 4 (or 3), you are increasing the quality by 20% (or even 40%).

For hitters, there isn't usually much change as they don't reduce the number of batting positions (always 9) or fielding positions (always 8 + pitcher), so you tend to run out the same players all the time.

In fact, because of the World Series taking away the DH from the AL teams, you often get a significant decrease in hitting from one team (like sitting a batting champ).

posted by grum@work at 02:02 PM on October 07

Milwaukee's in Wisconsin.

Crush my dreams, why don't you.

posted by Joey Michaels at 02:18 PM on October 07

...so I'm not sure why ARod gets singled out for notice.

$$$$$$$ is the answer.

posted by Howard_T at 03:01 PM on October 07

The general consensus is that quality pitching beats quality hitting every time, and if you reduce the starting pitchers from 5 to 4 (or 3), you are increasing the quality by 20% (or even 40%).

So why isn't Jeter's ability to maintain or slightly improve his regular season numbers impressive? You didn't seem impressed with his clutchiness.

posted by bperk at 03:02 PM on October 07

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Verlander pitch more than once in a series.

Same here. Hopefully he can stop allowing runs in the first inning.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:11 PM on October 07

The flip side of course is the enjoyment to be found from watching ordinary players turn into hero action figures in the postseason.

Compelling to watch even if they are wreaking doom and havoc on the team you're rooting for (as Mickey Hatcher did in 1988).

The catchword that broadcasters often use when referring to these players is "scrappy".

Can't quite see who's immortalized up there on Mt. Winmore through the mist...looks like Gene Tenace, Craig Counsell, Buddy Biancalana...

posted by beaverboard at 03:16 PM on October 07

So why isn't Jeter's ability to maintain or slightly improve his regular season numbers impressive? You didn't seem impressed with his clutchiness.

I never said I wasn't impressed with Jeter's ability to perform in the playoffs. I simply cherry-picked examples where he flamed out miserably as a counterpoint of cherry-picking examples where ARod has flamed out miserably.

As for "clutch" performances, I think it's more of an example of confirmation bias than anything else.

People like Derek Jeter, so they only include/remembering performances where he was "clutch", while conveniently ignoring/forgetting performances (like the examples I gave) where he was not "clutch".

People don't like Alex Rodriguez, so they only including/remember performances where he was not "clutch", while conveniently ignoring/forgetting performances (like the examples I gave) where he was "clutch".

Small-sample bias also comes into play. Is anyone going to call Ted Williams a "choker" because he has a career .533 OPS in the playoffs?

As well, if you perform well at the start of your career, people will seem to ignore when you fail at the end of it (like Jeter and the playoffs). However, if you perform poorly at the beginning of your career, people will seem to give you less credit when you reverse the trend later on (like Barry Bonds and the playoffs).

posted by grum@work at 03:25 PM on October 07

By the way, I saw that people mentioned Bonds and playoffs. Hopefully everyone remembers that in 2002 he had the greatest post-season performance by a hitter in the history of MLB.

posted by grum@work at 03:29 PM on October 07

cherry-picking examples where ARod has flamed out miserably

Not much cherry picking required there.

People like Derek Jeter

Far from it, I hate the guy - he's the freaking face of the Yankees already. But I realize I hate him because he's made big plays against teams I've rooted for, and do have the slightest appreciation for him being able to do so on a consistent basis during his career.

Your examples are interesting although not memorable to a non-Yankee fan. Memories I have from the 2009 World Series is Matsui being Godzilla-like each and every at bat, the Yanks getting every last drop out of Damon, and Pettitte being the most effective pitcher in the same year Sabathia and Burnett were bought to deliver a championship.

posted by cixelsyd at 04:07 PM on October 07

Your examples are interesting although not memorable to a non-Yankee fan.

If you're not remembering top of the 9th, bottom of the 9th, and bottom of the 11th, game-tying/-breaking home runs, then you weren't really paying that much attention to what ARod was doing, and no amount of evidence to the contrary is going to convince you.

Hitters go their whole career without hitting clutch home runs like that, and he hit three last-chance game-tying home runs in the span of about a week.

It should have eliminated any and all discussion about his "clutch" ability.

posted by grum@work at 04:15 PM on October 07

I was in a local (Detroit suburbs) sports bar last night. There's a big fat guy, looks like Borat's assistant or producer or whatever, you know the guy I mean, seriously, dead ringer. He goes out for a cigarette, because the consensus is that the game doesn't start until 8:30, so he's fine. It's 2-0 by the time he comes back, and the Tigers quickly get two more outs, so by god he turns right around and goes back outside, and damn if people didn't go out and give him updates every half-inning for the rest of the night.

THAT is heroism. That guy gave up watching his team so they could win, and he utterly believed that it would work. And it did.

posted by Etrigan at 04:25 PM on October 07

cherry-picking examples where ARod has flamed out miserably Not much cherry picking required there.

Err, yeah.

posted by yerfatma at 04:58 PM on October 07

what's funny is on PTI, Tony K. just made the argument "if you take away 2009, Arod's post-season numbers are...."

I thought it was pretty funny, given the arguments going on here on the same exclusion :-)

posted by bdaddy at 05:53 PM on October 07

what's funny is on PTI, Tony K. just made the argument "if you take away 2009, Arod's post-season numbers are...."

Even more evidence of how silly that argument really is...

posted by grum@work at 06:01 PM on October 07

Yeah it's pretty much bullshit. ARod is just not liked.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:43 PM on October 07

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