Alex Rodriguez and Power

Alex Rodriguez finally hit his 600th, but his owners have noticed that there was something wonky going on before the race to the benchmark ever started. A look at Jack Moore’s piece on the moment gives you a hint, but just look at the Rodriguez and his ISO over his career and it comes into sharp focus:

His offense has been declining for some time now, and power seems to be the reason. His flyball percentage is not the culprit, as it has stayed remarkably steady. Even though his HR/FB percentage has hit a career low this year, it was within his career range before this year, so that seems to be a lagging indicator. Is there an indicator out in front that might have been a harbinger of this power slump?

His hit tracker information is interesting. Using HitTrackerOnline, we can see that the average speed on his home runs has not been the same since 2008:

Of course, that was about the same time that Rodriguez started having hip troubles that has led to surgery and soreness since. In the spring of 2009, the news dropped and he hasn’t been the same since. Fanhouse scout Frankie Pilliere had something interesting scouting things to say, that also centered on the hips. It’s About the Money Stupid spotted this great piece:

Essentially, it all comes down to his lower half. When he’s right, no hitter has the balance and strength in the lower half that he does.
The swing we see from Rodriguez now is one more reliant on his upper body, with far less explosive torque and his hips following his stride.
Without creating that coiled spring effect before he releases his hands and with less drive of the hips toward the baseball, bat speed is going to suffer. And while there is no official measurement of actual bat speed available, we’ve seen Rodriguez get beat more often by the fastball without that powerful base from which to hit. It’s just not possible to produce the same bat speed.
If you’re an optimistic person, and expect the Rodriguez of old to return, what you’ll see is a smaller, abbreviated leg kick where he has very little movement in his lower half before he drives his hips at the ball. You’ll also see his head stay much more centered over the middle of his body and far less upper body involvement. If he can accomplish all that, we’ll see his bat speed return and the more prolific home run numbers will follow.

It looks like the numbers and the scouting facts align: Alex Rodriguez does not have the same juice in his hips that he used to. It’s hard for the average fan to notice, but watching the leg kick and his hips is one key. But, as we fantasy fans know, it’s much easier to watch the speed off his bat and trust the numbers once they turn around. Until they do, we’ll have to assume we are watching the decline of a great hitter.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

13 Responses to “Alex Rodriguez and Power”

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  1. filthyfred says:

    looking at arod’s career numbers,one thing i noticed is about the time he started taking steroids. his hr increased,but his doubles decreased. if you did a grid of these two stats,it would look incredibly wierd.

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  2. hjhjkhjk says:

    Roids wearing off perhaps?

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    • DT says:

      For all the people are are/are going to cry about roids, you have to know the effect roids has on a guy like Arod would be minimal to say the least. Roids doesn’t teach you good mechanics, hand eye coordination and etc. He was natural power hitter and had great bat speed even before the PEDs. He was stupid to take roids since he would have achieved everything he has right now w/o the help of PED’s. But right now it’s a combination of aging and a bad hip that’s causing him to decline not because of”teh roidz”.

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      • Chris says:

        To be fair, steroids damage joints over time and make injuries harder to come back from. So while still speculative, it could be the steroids from earlier in his career coming back to haunt him.

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      • Rich says:

        Roids would help a good hitter more than a bad one.

        Yes, Arod was great without roids, but the idea that Roids don’t help because he was already good is ridiculous.

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      • DT says:

        well if Arod say naturally hits the ball of say 415- 420 ft on avg in his prime (guess since we don;t have the data) which is isn’t exactly out of the realm of possibility since he did it in 2005-2008 when he was clean due to testing etc. That it self is already enough to drive the ball out in most ball parks. by doing roids sure he adds a few ft on hr’s but they would have been most likely going out anyways. Hence why i say he was stupid to do them since he would have achieved everything he has now w/o the help of PED’s. Plus Primobolan the stuff Arod allegedly used is mainly used to maintain strength and conditioning anyways. so yea the benefit would have most likely been minimal.

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  3. kid says:

    Miguel Cabrera:

    2009 – 415.9 Avg True Dist / 107.9 MPH
    2010 – 400.9 Avg True Dist / 105.1 MPH

    I’m going to go ahead and predict a decline for him in 2011, because he lost 15 feet in distance and 3 MPH off of his home runs hit.

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    • Jeffrey Gross says:

      Well, Eno here is pointing to a several year trend, not a one year dip.

      Two types of injuries devastate a hitter’s torque/power: shoulder and hip injuries. Shoulder injuries prevent extension/rotation and its what hurt Geovany Soto last year.

      Eno raises a very good observation and I don’t think you can discount his commentary by pointing to a one-year aberration in Miguel Cabrera’s numbers.

      Also, Steroids cause the body’s joint to weaken and make it harder to recover from structural injuries. Hence, Arod’s roid usage may end up hurting him more than they helped him (unless you measure help by wallet infusions of cash)

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        I hear you that a drop in speed off the bat or distance alone wouldn’t seem to be a strong predictor of more decline – but with A-Rod, we’re seeing scouting, general results (ISO), speed off the bat, and distance all lining up. Seems significant to me.

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  4. JT says:

    “Alex Rodriguez does not have the same juice in his hips that he used to.”

    Having some fun, Eno? It’s a good line.

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  5. D-Rock says:

    Seems to me that Pilliere has been watching some MLB Network, as that’s the same exact thing that was pointed out there over a month ago…by none other than Harold Reynolds, I believe.

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  6. Tank the Frank says:

    Stumbled upon this article and just had to comment because this needs to be revisited.. The last paragraph shown of the Pilliere article is EXACTLY what we’re seeing from Rodriguez ever since just before, and returning from, his recent DL stint. I noticed some subtle changes in his swing but had a hard time describing what I was seeing until I read this. We’re seeing an abbreviated leg kick and much less movement in his lower and upper half before he drives his hips and opens up. The numbers bear that out…and they’ve been fantastic.

    .327/.386/.612 so far in September.

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