A-Rod Is Underwhelming, Now Statistically Proven

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Rodriguez in a spring-training game yesterday.Photo: Getty Images

A slow Friday at the New York sports desk was enlivened by the arrival of this season’s Baseball Prospectus. The massive tome, featuring analysis of every player on every Major League team, down to those with even the slimmest chance of actually seeing big-league playing time, has a reputation for making highly accurate predictions. So what do the gurus think about the New York teams' chances? You’ll have to buy the book (or subscribe to the Website) for the complete story, but the general sentiment is bullishness on the Yankees (whose off-season personnel moves are praised for their long-term wisdom) and bearishness on the aging Mets (who “may have finally gotten out from under the Braves only to find that they’ve already peaked”). But perhaps most interesting are the comments on Alex Rodriguez.

Though stat-head types usually decry reputations for “clutch” performance as anecdote-based media mythmaking, some number-crunching by the Prospectus found that in a group of hitters who performed roughly as well as A-Rod overall in 2006, only one player improved his team’s chances of winning less on a per-plate-appearance basis. In other words, the common perception that A-Rod pads his numbers in meaningless situations was accurate (at least last year). Who took first place on that “clutch” list? You get one guess. —Ben Mathis-Lilley