Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Know Thy Enemy: Third Base

Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review third base. If you are just catching on we are beginning a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.

Red Sox Third Base

Mike Lowell was always the "other guy" the Red Sox acquired in the Beckett deal. He was a bit under the radar for good reason. He came off a season for the Marlins where he batted .236 with 8 homeruns and 58 RBI's in 500 at bats. Not the kind of production you would hope for out of a third baseman. Apparently, a little bit of time to heal and a change of scenery was all he needed. In 2006, Lowell flashed an impressive glove, and rediscovered his stroke to the tune of 20 homeruns and 47 doubles with a .284 average. Although I don't mind, he was still robbed of the gold glove that year. 2007 proved to be an even better year for Lowell at the plate, but worse on the field. He made 15 errors as compared to the 6 he made the year before. But he finished the season with a .324 average (first time he's finished a season above .300), 21 homeruns, and 37 doubles. His 120 RBI's led the team surpassing both Ortiz and Ramirez. Not bad for an under the radar kind of guy. He also won the World Series MVP last season. Many people tend to write him off because his swing is tailor made for Fenway Park. He just doesn't have the same success outside of there. Lucky for him half his games will be at Fenway Park.

Yankees Third Baseman

If I had to sum up Alex Rodriguez with three letters, I would use these: M.V.P. Last season he earned it. I was at the game where he hit a walk off three-run homer against closer Joe Borowski with two outs and two strikes in the ninth. He had plenty of big moments last season and he literally caried the offense for large portions of the season. As Giambi nursed his foot, and Abreu tried to solve the riddle of what a bat is used for, Alex Rodriguez provided the only consistant power for the Yankees. Don't get me wrong, Posada, Cano and Matsui were forces to be reckoned with in that lineup, but not anywhere close to the .314 average, 54 homeruns, and 156 RBI's held by A-Rod. More impressively for anyone who followed the Yankees in 2006, is that his defense improved dramatically. He made 13 errors at third as compared to the 24 he made the year before.

Third Base Winner: Yankees. Lowell isn't a dud by any means, but he's up against the reigning AL MVP, and the leader of most offensive categories that matter. They played similar defense last season so that isn't a huge consideration, though in a typical year Lowell is better on the field. They both had career years last season, but A-Rod's was more impressive. Let's be honest, If A-Rod batted .324 with 21 homeruns and 120 RBI's it would be considered a down year.


Anonymous said...

you know, its funny. Red sox fans would more than likely disagree with you, because they would say "but lowell performed in the post season, and AROD has not". Everyone tends to forget that AROD had some monster seasons in SEA, and that huge ALDS against the twins (as a yankee). I guess haters would invoke MLB rule 45.3 sec A that "all games playoff games played for a team in the northwest do not count". I'm a red sox fan and it drives me nuts when I hear people call AROD a choker. Its stupid. Maybe if he got more at bats in a larger sample size he would have more solid numbers. I think everyone expects a line of .500/.600/.800 from him during the postseason. Point is, sometimes people are really stupid. Also I remember you saying somewhere that you live in Red Sox Country. I heard one of the dumbasses on WEEI saying that its a good thing we never got AROD because he cant perform as well as lowell in the clutch. Just....Stupid.

Anonymous said...

Very true.

anonymous 2

Anonymous said...

Very true.

anonymous 2

Fernando Alejandro said...

I figured A-Rod's performance in the post season would come up, because it is a glaring hole in his resume. His series with the Twins back in 2004 was pretty good, but since then he hasn't quite found his stroke. A-Rod was more than clutch last season, but was then mediocre in the playoffs. Its so funny how one swing can change your perception of a player. A-rod had one homerun in the series against Cleveland in a game the Yankees lost. So it was deemed too little too late. However, if the Yankees had won that game, that homerun would have been deemed as the great turn around hit of the game. In that game against Cleveland I mentioned, A-Rod had gone 0-4 prior to that at bat, and had struck out in a couple big spots early in the game. Then he hits the one bomb, and everyone forgets how badly he did prior to that at bat. We'll see about A-Rod in the playoffs this year. Its my opinion that he's too good a player to keep being so bad in the playoffs. I agree that the sample size is not big enough, but the truth is all players are judged by the same small sample size, and some players just do better than others in that stretch. I think a lot of people will be eating their words about A-Rod though.

Bucky7588 said...

everyone seems to forget the 2004 playoffs where AROD was tearing it up, before Pedro started throwing at people.

Super Bowl said...

Arod is the best 3rd baseman in the league... Hell, he is the best player.

Anonymous said...

i would say to call his 2004 performace against the twins "pretty good" is a severe understatement. his line was
2004 ALDS: 8-19, 1 HR, .421/.476/.737 (Monster). For arguments sake, lets look at all of his postseason numbers.

1997 ALDS: 5-16, 1 HR, .313/.313/.563 (Very Good)

2000 ALDS: 4-13, .308/.308/.308 (Eh)

2000 ALCS: 9-22, 2 HR, .409/.480/.773 (Monster)

2004 ALDS: 8-19, 1 HR, .421/.476/.737 (Monster)

2004 ALCS: 8-31, 2 HR, .258/.378/.516 (Very Good)

2005 ALDS: 2-15, .133/.381/.200 (Bad, though he got on base)

2006 ALDS: 1-14, .071/.071/.071 (Terrible)

2007 ALDS: 4-15 .267/.353/.467
(Eh, but not nearly as bad as Captain calm eyes, who had 3 critical GIDP, yet didnt catch nearly as much shit as AROD).

So in eight series, he has two absolute beasts, two very good series, four kind of crummy ones. How can you say this guy falls apart in the postseason? In 2000-04 he went 25-72 with 5 HR and 7 2B. Now hear this, people:

Derek Jeter's Career Splits: .317/.388/.463

Derek Jeter's Career Postseason splits: .314/.384/.479

Mr. Clutch is actually Mr. Exactly the Same No Matter What Month You Are Talking About. He is Mr. Equally Excellent Hitting SS Every Month from April to November. He is Mr. Outrageously Similar Statistics Every 30 Days.

And for the record, in that huge 2004 ALCS against Boston, which earned ARod the reputation as a non-clutch player, Jeter went 6-30, .200/.333/.233.

So, that is just my argument that there is no such thing as clutch, and if the yankees pitching staff could hold it down and keep the yankees in the game (i'm looking at you Wang), perhaps AROD will have postseasons similar to the ones in years past. Also to prove my point here is a list of famous players who have had 3 consecutive poor postseasons in a row.

C Yogi Berra, 47WS-50WS ... 14 G, .140/.204/.260

1B Jeff Bagwell, 97NLDS-99NLDS ... 11 G, .128/.261/.128

2B Jackie Robinson, 47WS-52WS ... 19 G, .212/.342/.303

SS Derek Jeter**, 01ALDS-01WS ... 17 G, .226/.262/.290

3B Mike Schmidt, 77NLCS-80NLCS ... 13 G, .164/.233/.218

OF Babe Ruth, 18WS-22WS ... 14 G, .211/.333/.368

OF Mickey Mantle, 61WS-63WS ... 13 G, .130/.216/.217

OF Ted Williams***, 46WS ... 7 G, .200/.333/.200

DH David Ortiz, 02ALDS-03ALDS ... 14 G, .200/.231/.280

I think we can all agree that this team of chokers could never make it out of the first round.

** Jeter also had a pretty crappy 98ALDS-98WS ... 13 G, .235/.328/.294, 7 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI
*** OK, Ted only had 1 postseason series, but I figured in the spirit of judging players off of small sample sizes, I'd include him

Phew, okay, i'm done. i shall get off my soapbox now.

-anonymous #1

Fernando Alejandro said...

I don't disagree with you anonymous 1 who I will now call Fred Trigger, because its a cool name. Jeter was absolutely awful last post season. His GIDP's made me cringe. In 2005, Matsui also had a bad series but no one seemed to care. It always comes down to A-Rod. In this discussion, we're comparing him to Mike Lowell who happened to have a big post season last year. So naturally, A-Rod's more recent playoff performances are coming into consideration, and he just wasn't that strong in recent years. I still say that this year he breaks all that, but for now we're looking at the world series MVP versus the guy who batted 8th in the lineup two years ago.