New York Yankees Editorial: Alex Rodriguez Adjusted Hits Total Less Than 3000


One of the greatest lessons of Sabermetrics is to adjust for context when evaluating player statistics. A home run in 1968 in Los Angeles is not the same as a home run in 2001 in Colorado. Adjusting for the different run environments, both parks and offensive levels, across baseball history allows players to be compared on a fair baseline. This principle of context adjustment can even be applied to the 3000 hits that Alex Rodriguez has recorded in his career.

Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight went through the mathematical exercise that adjusts Rodriguez’s hits for context so that he can be properly compared to other 3000+ hit compilers. Paine presents a chart of hits per plate appearance for each year in major league history to demonstrate the rationale behind adjusting the raw numbers.

Hits were plentiful in the early 1900s and 1930s and harder to come by throughout the 1960s. Paine calculates that the years in which ARod played register a 100.3 “hitting environment metric”. 100 is average so it was only slightly easier for ARod to record hits for his entire career when compared to the average hit rate across all seasons since 1901. The era he played in was slightly more conducive to recording hits when compared to all of baseball history. A slight discount in his hit total adjusts for that.

The second adjustment Paine makes is for the schedule. Each season of ARod’s career contained 162 games. However, other players throughout history, including many members of the 3000 hit club, only had 154 games in a season to record hits. Paine extrapolates all players’ hit rates to a 162 game season. Therefore, ARod gets a slight boost for not actually appearing in 162 games every year (injury, rest, etc.), but the boost is far less than players from the 154 game season era.

In an absolute sense his hit total goes up for the schedule adjustment. In a relative sense it doesn’t go up as much as other players on the list. Paine shows that only two players receive less of a boost from schedule adjustment than ARod.

The final adjustment is for the home parks in which ARod played. Fangraphs shows that Arod’s home parks in Texas and New York were very hitter-friendly while the park in Seattle was about average in terms of run scoring when he played there. In fact, Neil notes that only 7 players on the list get docked more hits due to the offense-friendly parks they played in.

On 6/21/15, Rodriguez’s Baseball Reference page showed that he had 3003 hits, but accounting for context, in a manner articulated by Paine, for league effects (-0.3%), schedule (+0.7%), and home ballpark (-2.0%) indicate his adjusted hit total was 2955.

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