I was recently looking through some of the stat totals for last year’s Yankees and, when I got to A-Rod’s, one thing jumped out at me: Walks.
In 535 plate appearances last season, A-Rod walked 80 times; project that out to 700 plate appearances and it comes to 104 – or nearly 25 more than his 162-game career average. With an OBP of .402, 2009 turned out to be A-Rod’s fifth-highest OBP season of his career.
Word is that Rodriguez is feeling and looking as healthy and active as he was pre-hip surgery, and it’ll be interesting to see if he carries over (and builds on) some of the things he worked on with Kevin Long last year. Widening A-Rod’s stance and keeping him from reaching too far out of the strike zone were points of emphasis, and – judging by the walks total – it certainly looks like Rodriguez has honed his hitting zone.
That’s a good thing. Not only does that help when he’s swinging well, but it also keeps a slump from spiraling; a player who walks with regularity still finds his way on base even when he’s swinging poorly.