Pecking Order: The K-Rod blues
Aside from his notable 0.98 WHIP and .153 BAA, Rodriguez has some bizarre batted ball splits. His GB/FB rate of 0.51 is the lowest (by far) of his career, and 20 percent of batted balls are infield fly balls (IFFB%, or essentially, pop-ups). I know we all analyze numbers like mad in this business, and constantly look for ways to explain that a low BABIP is a terrible thing (his is also quite low at .229), but I can't figure out how inducing lots of pop-ups is a bad thing for a closing pitcher. Pop-ups aren't usually a matter of luck, since even a perfect swing -- from a timing standpoint -- yields a line-drive, a moon shot, or a ball fouled directly back and out of play. Pop-ups are usually induced by a combination of a batter's poor timing and a pitch's sharp movement, just like broken bats. In only two seasons of
Sure, K-Rod will get hit a little more as his BABIP creeps upward during the season, but I'm willing to gamble that he's made an adjustment to induce more pop-ups by getting in on the hands of hitters more effectively -- and that's a great approach to have as a closing pitcher.