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A-Rod and Bonds’ Postseason Woes: Dipping into History for Statistical Perspective

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I’m a big stats guy but I’m an even bigger observer of abstract historical considerations. Blame my History training. In this light, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with this piece as my second submission to Blogcritics.

The timing too is a little off seeing that baseball is over and football season is in full flight. However, this little gem of a thought just entered my little head and it could not be resisted. Humour me.

The uneasy existence between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez has been a heated topic of discussion among New Yorkers. Much has been said about A-Rod and it is now time to consider some hard truths. Let a Canadian (I’m from Montreal) be a moderate voice for you all. Baseball is a game of statistics, so why not use them to make a point?

One of the biggest knocks against the personality-challenged Rodriguez (and Barry Bonds for that matter) is postseason performance. True, it may not be up to par with Rodriguez and his high regular season standards, but is it really that bad?

The comparison to Derek Jeter is too easy. Forget that. Let’s dip into history. Let’s say, oh I don’t know, the 1960s. Hmm, but which two players to compare? I got it! Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Two of that era’s greatest icons.

We’re all familiar — ok, maybe not all but most have an idea, and if not, here’s the short version: the numbers were solid — with their regular season stats. So shall we dive straight into the postseason?

(By the way, I am aware that the 1960s were a pitcher’s era where pitching inside was the norm. Treat this merely as food for thought.)

First up is Mays. Say Hey played in six postseasons and 25 games. His career numbers are:

.247 BA; .323 OBP; .337 SLG; all in 89 AB. This included a .182 BA in 1951 and a mediocre .250 in 1962. Mays hit one postseason HR in his illustrious career.

Next, Muscles Mantle: .257 BA; .374 OBP; .535 SLG; and 18 HR in 230 AB. Mantle had more chances on better teams playing in 12 post seasons and 65 games.

Check out these numbers: Mantle hit .200 in 1951, .208 in 1953, .200 in 1955, .167 in 1961, .120 in 1962 and .133 in 1963.

Okay? Now we head into the modern era. Yes, I know stats don’t take into consideration many factors but I am not comparing players from different eras to see who was better. I’m just bringing to light the numbers as they are and were.

Alex Rodriguez: .280 BA; .362 OBP; .485 SLG; and 6 HR in 132 AB. A-Rod played in 9 postseasons and 35 games.

Barry Bonds: .245 BA; .433 OBP; .503 SLG; and 9 HR in 151 AB. Bonds played in 9 postseasons and 48 games.

(I just noticed something. Bonds doesn’t have a nickname. In a sport where nicknames are almost a rite of passage it’s interesting to note he doesn’t have one. How about Secure or Triple AAA? Get it? Bonds … bah.)

Not so bad, huh? Perspective is everything.

Two are revered legends. Two are not. Social and psychological circumstances notwithstanding, life is funny that way.

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About Alessandro Nicolo