When a player puts up the numbers that Alex Rodriguez has, the statistics become astounding when grouped into small enough sample sizes. Batter versus pitcher matchups are absolutely small sample sizes. That doesn’t make A-Rod’s complete ownership of some pitchers any less amazing.
The pitcher that Rodriguez faced the most while also completely dominating him was Bartolo Colon. The Met is still a good player now, but is mainly beloved for reasons that don’t have to do with his accomplishments on the mound. However, he was once an excellent pitcher. That didn’t stop Rodriguez from crushing him. The two faced each other 63 times in total. The highlight of their matchups was Rodriguez’s three-home run game against Colon in 2005.
The next time they faced each other was later that season, and in Rodriguez’s first at-bat of the game, he hit another home run off Colon. Rodriguez’s career triple slash line against Colon is a pretty good .411/.429/1.000.
However, the more you lower the sample size, the funnier the stats become.
Rodriguez faced Livan Hernandez 25 times. Hernandez only got him out eight times. Rodriguez picked up 12 hits and five walks in their matchups, and finished with a 1.980 OPS against Hernandez. If you add in Livan’s half-brother Orlando’s appearances against Rodriguez, that number drops to a paltry 1.490.
Seventeen pitchers have allowed a 5.000 OPS against Rodriguez, which is the highest number possible. Of those 17, three faced him two times. Two of them, Kevin Beirne and Ian Krol, allowed one home run and one walk. Will Smith, however, allowed two home runs in two plate appearances to Rodriguez, both in the same May 23, 2012 game, and has not faced him again.
The highest OPS Rodriguez has against someone in double-digit plate appearances is against Brian Bannister. In their first matchup, Rodriguez walked and hit two home runs off the former Royal. The second time they faced each other, Bannister struck out Rodriguez look three times. Rodriguez then reached base six of the final seven times he faced Bannister and finished with a 2.248 OPS.
Colon and three others have tied to allow the most home runs to Rodriguez with eight. Ramon Ortiz, Tim Wakefield, and David Wells all also allowed eight homers to Rodriguez. However, Colon remains the king, as he allowed that many in the least amount of at-bats, with just 63.
However, possibly the most amusing results Rodriguez has had against a pitcher was against Wil Ledezma. Rodriguez first faced Ledemza on August 11, 2003. The Tigers’ starter lasted just one inning, walking Rodriguez in the process. Ledezma was in the bullpen nine days later when he faced Rodriguez next. That ended in a home run—as did Rodriguez’s next three at-bats against Ledezma. After five plate appearances, Rodriguez had four home runs and a 5.000 OPS against Ledezma. However, the former Tiger totally figured out Rodriguez and got him to pop out in their final two matchups. That lowered Rodriguez’s triple slash line against him to just .667/.714/3.381.
Historic players have the ability to post ridiculous numbers in batter-pitcher matchups, and A-Rod was certainly no exception.