Listening to New York sports radio is never easy on your sensibilities. But despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, many Yankees fans wanted Alex Rodriguez dropped in the order and some even wanted him on the bench for tonight’s ALDS game against the Orioles..
Would this be the right thing to do with a slugger that entered tonight’s action 1-9 with 5 strikeouts in the series? Not if you are smart. And definitely not if you are Joe Maddon.
In fact, if you follow the Rays closely, you know exactly what Maddon would do. Not only would Maddon not drop ARod in the order, he would move ARod to the leadoff spot*, something Maddon did with Carlos Pena ten times this season.
OK, OK. The move did not exactly work with Pena who continued to suck throughout the season, but the logic is sound.
When you drop a player in the order, most managers think they are taking pressure off the batter. But in reality, they are actually putting more pressure on the batter to prove that he belongs back near the top. By hitting a big bat leadoff the manager does not add pressure, but does force the batter to change his approach. And by changing the focus of the batter, from hitting 6-run home runs to just getting on base, a batter can make positive adjustments in both mechanics and thinking.
Of course, Joe Girardi is not going to do that (ARod was hitting third again tonight). But it is fun to think about how loopy the Yankees fans would get if Maddon was the manager of the Bombers.
* OK, it is less certain that Maddon would actually do this during a huge postseason game. But the logic still applies and you can be sure Maddon wouldn’t drop ARod.