Maybe not all of them, but what's the point of a blog if not to write incendiary things? I thought A-Rod bashing would be limited to Mike Lupica's awful article yesterday, but last night's meltdown left the Apple so confused  the New York Times is pushing Youkilis for MVP. Fan agita has led to the one thing worse than the sort of blindly anti-statistical baseball commentary that shows up at FireJoeMorgan, bad statistical analysis.

I will grant the author that A-Rod's batting average with runners on base is . . . not fantastic. But the rest of the observations:

  • "In Yankee wins, he hits .358. In losses, many of which he could have impacted, just .251 . . . here is a really telling one. With the margin of a game at 4 runs or greater, A-Fraud’s batting average is a staggering .411. There is your ‘piling on meaningless numbers’ evidence right there." Without context, numbers are meaningless. The splits for everyone ("everyone" defined here as >95%) in the MLB will be higher for wins and lower for losses. When a team wins, it scores runs, when it loses, it doesn't. Teams score runs by getting hits. I think you can put the rest together: in games where the Yankees score at least 4 runs (and possibly 20), players are going to hit well. The Yankees as a team hit .307 in wins and .233 in losses.
  • "Late & Close . . . An OK .288, but with only 7 RBI in 59 at-bats" At the risk of sounding more snobbish than normal, statistical analysis tends to ignore RBIs (and batting average, but that's a different discussion) because RBIs aren't discrete events. With the exception of a solo home run, players need teammates to do something to be able to accumulate RBIs. It would be nice to know how many opportunities Slappy Bluelips has gotten this year in Late & Close situations. It'd also be nice to see the team's Late & Close numbers. Since you asked, the team hits a sub-A-Fraudian .269 in Late & Close situations.

If you did want to support the thesis A-Rod sucks in the clutch (and who am I to deny that kind of hate?), one might point out A-Rod's performance in high-leverage situations, though that will mean explaining what the hell tOPS+ is (I hadn't heard of it until I went and looked now), so make sure you're not trying to convince Lupica. And make sure you include the team's numbers for context (man, 64 versus 92 is pretty shitty).