Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alex Rodriguez is no Raul Ibanez

Alex Rodriguez, statistically, is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball.  In fact, when he retires, there is an excellent argument that, statistically, he'll be one of the top five players ever.

It's necessary to include "statistically" in these statements about A-Rod.

You see, purely anecdotally, he stinks.

Consider:
  • He's paid far too much money.
  • He juiced.
  • He's a Yankee.
  • His own fans hate him.
  • He gets way too much tabloid coverage than he has ever deserved.
  • He can't hit when the chips are down.  (To cherry-pick with a measure of bias:  1-for-14 in the 2006 ALDS vs. Detroit; 4-for-21 in the 2010 ALCS vs. Texas; 2-for-18 in the 2011 ALDS vs. Detroit; 1-for-12 in the 2012 ALDS vs. Baltimore so far, including seven strikeouts.)
I blame the convergence of three things:  1) His contract is outlandish, 2) He's handsome, charismatic, narcissistic, and stupid enough to pile up the perfect gossip-friendly love life, and 3) He's a Yankee.  (When he was a Mariner, who cared?)

As an opposing fan, I love seeing A-Rod at the plate in a crucial spot.  Yankee fans know:  He simply isn't going to come through.

Last night, the Yanks beat the Orioles because Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for A-Rod in the 9th and tied the game with a dramatic homer.  Ibanez then homered again in the 12th to win it.  (As someone who was rooting for the Orioles, this was not fun to watch.)  Yes, Alex Rodriguez statistically is far better than Raul Ibanez -- and yet New York's chances of winning went up exponentially the very moment A-Rod was taken out of the game.

There is no way to sensibly rationalize this:  The historically talented Alex Rodriguez is detrimental to his team's success.  He's one of the greatest players ever -- and you'd never want him on your team.

Our grandchildren, pouring over the stats on their new sabermetric-friendly iPhone 25, will never believe us.

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