June 30, 2006
In his first year with the Colorado Rockies, 32 year-old Jamey Carroll has become a fast fan favorite. Why shouldn't he be? As of Thursday afternoon, his batting line was .329/.402/.441, a significant part of the reason that the Rockies have been consistently close to securing first place in the National League West for most of the season.
Of course, Carroll has his issues. Like many Rockies players of the past, Carroll has a very severe home/road split that skews his overall statistics. This split is Jeff Cirillo-esque in its severity:
AB AVG/OBP/SLG Home 109 .413/.462/.569 Road 104 .240/.342/.308
Carroll only had 10 prior at-bats in Coors Field, so there is no additional sample to look at besides his 2006 numbers. Before joining the Rox, he was a career .269/.344/.338 hitter, which is not that far off from his road numbers. His road performance is so terrible, that it's obvious Coors Field is helping to inflate his performance this year.
The question at hand is whether or not Carroll is worth enough runs on the road to merit playing everyday in the lineup. Offense is only part of a player's overall value; what of Carroll's defensive abilities?
AdjG Rate2 FRAA 2004 38.6 89 -4 2005 47.5 98 -1 2006 42.6 123 10 Career 134.7 104 5
Carroll's career Rate2 is a solidly above average 104--4 runs above average per 100 games played. This season's Rate2 of 123 seems somewhat off, as if there may be noise in the numbers causing it to skyrocket. Checking in with Zone Rating and tweaking it somewhat to give a run value shows us that he is worth 4.5 runs above average so far at second base, which is very good, but not quite at the 10 Fielding Runs Above Average he has accumulated thus far. Either way, he has been an asset with the leather in 2006.
Carroll's home/road splits can be broken down further into Raw EqA to determine his offensive runs above average. Raw EqA is not adjusted for park or league difficulty, which makes it less useful for most analysis, but in this case it may be beneficial. So far on the road this year, Carroll has a REqA of .229, just below replacement level. His home REqA is an impressive .331 EqA--or .334 if you only measure him against other player's performances at Coors in 2006.
There are two different players here. Assuming Carroll has the same defensive skill in all ballparks, he is a replacement level hitter with very good defense, who sometimes masquerades as a superior hitter with very good defense. At home, he is worth roughly 50 runs above average for his position per 150 games, whereas on the road he is worth somewhere from 5-10 runs below average, depending on which defensive metric you choose to believe. By simply using his adjusted-for-park EqA of .274, you get a Carroll who is somewhere around 20 runs above average for his position per 150 games played.
Considering Carroll would at most play 81 games at home or on the road, the negative road value does not seem to be enough to warrant sitting him. If the Rockies were to build the majority of their lineup out of players who struggled this mightily on the road in comparison to their home statistics…well, it would look something like most of the past Rockies teams. Having one inexpensive player with these sorts of splits certainly will not hurt the Rockies too much, especially when one considers his defensive contributions and his dominance at home with the bat so far. He is certainly a step up from Aaron Miles and his dreadful splits. With young hurlers pitching the Rockies to victory in many contests, keeping a defensive specialist around who can smack the ball in 81 games while getting on base effectively enough in the other 81 can't be all bad.
Since we last spoke, Terrence Long: Yankee Outfielder made its debut and finished its run, Bubba Crosby was put on and returned from the DL, Gary Sheffield returned from the DL and was placed back on the DL, and the Yankees lost 3.5 games in the standings against the Red Sox. While things have hardly reached a panic level--as you'll recall, last year at this point the Yankees were in fourth place, just a single game over .500, and still managed to capture the division crown--the thought has started to seep into the groundwater that the Yankees might not have the guns to catch up to Beantowners, or, for that matter, to the White Sox or Tigers for the Wild Card.
This frustration has found itself focused on one member of the Yankees lineup, disproportionately. To put it another way, Alex Rodriguez has brought an exciting new baseball tradition to the Bronx this month: that of the baseball player who is booed by his home crowd every single time he makes an out. What started out as a smattering of boos for every late-inning out with men on base has rapidly turned into a wholehearted rejection of Rodriguez's every non-run-producing act.
Of course, the Yankees third baseman has given the fans plenty of reason to jeer, by having his worst month in years. With just one game left in June, 2006, Rodriguez's line for the month stands at .224/.359/.365 with three homers in about 102 plate appearances. Going by OPS, that's Rodriguez's worst month since September, 1999, when A-Rod hit a disastrous .173/.261/.365, albeit with six homers in 119 PA. Rodriguez has not only slipped at the plate, but he's also performed poorly in the field--and done so visibly. Rodriguez's current error total is his highest since he moved to third base two years ago.
Overall, Alex Rodriguez has the numbers of an All-Star third baseman, his .279/.390/.496 gives him the lead over the other thirdbasemen in the American League in OPS, on the strength of that .390 on base percentage, the highest in the league at the position by a considerable margin. His 16 homers trail only Troy Glaus, and he leads the league at the position in EqA and Runs Above Replacement. One of the keys limiting his performance so far is an atypical platoon split, which has Rodriguez at his usual demigod levels against lefthanded pitching (.286/.459/.746, with eight home runs in 63 AB), but performing closer to regular mortals against righthanders (.276/.367/.424).
Rodriguez had a heart-warming home run in Wednesday's series finale against the Braves, hitting a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the twelfth inning to erase a one-run deficit against Jorge Sosa and the Braves. It was a nice moment, a big win, and what everyone hopes was a turning point for Rodriguez. But it is not immunity, and one suspects that if he starts grounding into double plays this weekend against the Mets, we'll see a return of the boo-birds, saying, "But what have you done for us lately?"