On-Base Perception

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Alex Rodriguez a performance-enhancer for Yankees

Alex Rodriguez stretches before the Yankees game against

Alex Rodriguez stretches before the Yankees game against the Boston Red Sox. (Aug. 17, 2013) (Credit: AP )

There is an intersection, normally begrudgingly admitted to by both sides, where stat mongers (like myself) and practitioners of the "eye test" meet.

Much as he's in the middle of everything else right now, Alex Rodriguez is also directing traffic at that intersection.

Anyone who's watched the Yankees during the two weeks since A-Rod's return from offseason hip surgery (and oh so much more) doesn't need a data set to tell them a fortnight of Rodriguez has been exponentially better than four months of his subpar replacements.



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But we have the data, so why not look through it?

Non-Rodriguez Yankees third basemen hit .213 with a .255 on-base percentage and .284 slugging percentage (.539 on-base plus slugging percentage) in 444 plate appearances. The two players with the most plate appearances, Jayson Nix (118 PAs) and David Adams (111 PAs), performed only marginally better: .221 average, .276 OBP, .283 SLG (.559 OPS).

Then there's Rodriguez, who's seen just 45 plate appearances at third base heading into Tuesday's doubleheader with the Blue Jays. And those 45 plate appearances have been more valuable than the 444 that came before.

Rodriguez has hit .325 with a .400 OBP and .500 SLG (.900 OPS). He already has two home runs -- half of the four that were hit by all third baseman prior to his arrival.

For the record -- American League third baseman have combined for a .751 OPS in 2013. The Yankees' production at the position (even with A-Rod's limited plate appearances added in) ranks last in MLB in OPS (.586) and last in the AL in home runs (6).

The Yankees are 7-6 in the 13 games A-Rod has been back (he didn't play Aug. 10 against Detroit). In the 120 games before he came back, the Yankees scored 420 runs, an average of 3.5 per game. They've scored 71 in the 13 games since his return, an average of 5.4 runs per game. The Yankees scored a total of 71 runs in the 21 games prior to A-Rod's return.

And it's not just his offense that's a plus for the Yankees.

Defensive Runs Saved is an advanced defensive (believe it or not) metric that is the primary defensive component in the Wins Above Replacement stat. Rodriguez has 1 DRS in 88 innings at third this season. The cavalcade of corner infielders who occupied third before him produced just 1 DRS in 1010.1 innings.

Whatever his issues are off the field -- and there are plenty, growing more numerous and louder by the day -- on the field, he's been a no-doubt performance-enhancer for the Yankees offense.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez , Yankees , David Adams , Jayson Nix

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