Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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02 Nov

LEFT BEHIND NO. 16: Adam LaRoche

LEFT BEHIND NO. 15

Rule 5 Pickup: The Left Behinders made a serious drafting mistake. I neglected to grab Pat Jarvis last week when Mac ejected him from the Elect on his miscount. Pat should have been instantly put on the Left Behind 18 when Mac exposed him to waivers; see Mac’s detailed analysis below.

The Little Bulldog has to be on the 44.

Adam LaRoche.gifLEFT BEHIND NO. 16: Adam LaRoche: Lefthanded Hitting, Lefthanded Throwing 1B
Seasons with Braves: 2004-06
Career Stats with Braves: .274/.337/.504, 65 HR, 213 RBI, 187 RS, 0 SB

God forgive me.

He has three full seasons under his belt, so he qualifies. And his slugging percentage is – God forgive me – better than Dale Murphy’s. It’s better than everybody on Mac’s list except 3 guys, all of whom are in the top ten.

And — he may have the best glovework of any starting first baseman the Braves have ever had.

I really don’t like LaRoche. I think he dogs it quite a bit. He’s never stolen a base in 400 games. Maybe he can’t remember which way second is. I don’t think he’s that slow; I think he’s lazy. He cost us the Astros series when he jogged to third instead of going all out and scoring (easily).

But his comparable hitters include Lee May, Glenn Davis, Mo Vaughn, David Ortiz, and Cecil Fielder. If he has one more roughly comparable season, he has to go on the list of 44. He’s 28th in homeruns now. If he hits 20 more, he’ll be 17th. If he hits 30 more, he’ll be 15th.

God forgive me.

Mac’s Additional Commentary: I disagree; I think he really is that slow. Anyway, he’s not on the list because I don’t call his career three “full” seasons. He’s played 400 games, exactly; three full seasons would be 486. LaRoche was platooned in 2004 and 2005, plus early in 2006, and he missed a lot of time in 2004 with an injury. I would ask for 450 games or 1800 PA. If I did this list next year he’d be on it.

Adam LaRoche Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

19 Responses to “LEFT BEHIND NO. 16: Adam LaRoche”

  1. 1
    'Rissa Says:

    I still don’t get why people repeatedly bring up that Astros game and blame LaRoche for not scoring when they talk about how slow he is. He is slow, sometimes amazingly so. I sometimes wonder if he could even beat McCann in a race. But, if the guy was as sick as he and Bobby and everyone else said he was, he probably would have fallen over before he made it to home. I don’t think it would be a pleasant experience to have to go throw up between every inning of a ballgame, and I would wager it would leave a person with very little energy. You can argue he shouldn’t have been laying that game in the first place, but he did hit a Grand Slam earlier so you probably can’t argue that too much.

    Adam LaRoche didn’t lose that ballgame. You can blame it on Farnsworth (which you should), you can blame it on Devine (although that would be pretty rough, it never should have gotten to him), you can blame it on that thing the Astros call a stadium. But you really can’t blame it on LaRoche. I know I really shouldn’t care about this so much, but I’m sick of LaRoche getting blamed (over and over) for something he didn’t do. I will climb off of my soapbox now.

    Now, you can talk about the boneheaded play against the Mets all you want. There wasn’t as much at stake as during the Houston game and it probably didn’t make a whole lot of an impact on the season as a whole, but he did look really stupid while doing it. That is legitimate complaint against his “laziness” (although Nick Johnson WAS out. LaRoche just deserved the get the call to go against him after walking to the bag).

  2. 2
    flournoy Says:

    Good to see LaRoche here. He’s one of my favorites. I like his style a whole lot more than the more exuberant types.

  3. 3
    sansho1 Says:

    Well said, ‘Rissa. LaRoche is a bit of a flake, and that makes him an easy fall guy sometimes. But I’ve always liked the Type B ballplayers — some of the “conspicuous effort” guys are just plain irritating (Eckstein, Hudler, Rose), and the laid-back players don’t get rattled as easily under pressure. Several of the players on Mac’s list yet to be revealed are Type B’s, including the top guy.

  4. 4
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I wouldn’t call Aaron a Type B guy. He was noted for his refusal to waste energy, but he was very intense and driven.

  5. 5
    sansho1 Says:

    OK, maybe that was an incorrect characterization. I read Bisher’s ghost-written autobiography many years ago (but not I Had a Hammer), and the impression I got was of a man who was naturally laconic, but who developed an edge because of the cultural difficulties he had to endure.

  6. 6
    Kyle S Says:

    Andruw is most definitely Type B. Smoltz OTOH is very type A. I wonder about Glavine and Mad Dog. They’re both so laid back, but at the same time fierce competitors. I suppose you can be a fierce competitor and still be a type B personality… it’s all semantics anyway.

  7. 7
    Mac Thomason Says:

    If you read I Had A Hammer, you will find some rather unflattering statements about Bisher. Aaron did not like that characterization (which Bisher had been working on even when the Braves were in Milwaukee) at all.

  8. 8
    hoboken_wood Says:

    Count me in the group that hates seeing LaRoche pissed on. The general population here that wanted him benched/traded/released earlier this year either ate crow or pulled a 180 and suddenly loved the guy.

    I hope folks also remember the grand slam he hit in that Game 5 just as easily as the play at home–it’s not like he was on the mound in the 8th and 9th inning either.

    I’m 100% with ‘Rissa on this one.

  9. 9
    sansho1 Says:

    Here’s Wikipedia on attributes of Type A personalities:

    1. Insatiable desire to achieve their goals
    2. Strong willingness to compete in all situations
    3. Strong desire for recognition and advancement
    4. Desire to multitask under time constraints
    5. Always in a rush to finish activities
    6. Above average mental and physical alertness

    To a certain extent, because we’re dealing with professional athletes, you’d have to say that some Type A traits are assumed, particularly numbers 2 and 6. Number 4 doesn’t apply in any way that we can observe. So if we want to draw some conclusions about personality type, it would seem to depend on our perceptions about these factors:

    1. Insatiable desire to achieve their goals
    3. Strong desire for recognition and advancement
    5. Always in a rush to finish activities

    Number 5 would seem to be the easiest way to identify obvious Type A players, perhaps as personified by the players I mentioned earlier — Eckstein, Hudler, Rose. But those tendencies seem to play out in non-critical situations, like running to first base after a walk (or sliding into first base on a close play). Most of the time, the game doesn’t lend itself to being in a “rush”. Maybe some pitcher mannerisms would apply, but everyone else is basically reacting to the situation that’s presented.

    Number 1 is definitely a semantic trap, and again maybe only useful in identifying those players for whom individual goals can seem paramount — Rose again, Garvey, Rickey. Usually making a judgement on this attribute requires a lot of guesswork and projection.

    So, to the extent this is worth discussing at all (and since I brought it up, I’ll go ahead and discuss it), the best measure of personality type is probably our perception of:

    3. Strong desire for recognition and advancement

    Even here, you’ve got to read between the cliches, because most baseball players become inured to deflecting praise that they receive to their teammates. Of those remaining, I’ll say that Maddux and Murphy definitely reside in the “B” group — they’ve both been historically uncomfortable with praise, though in different ways. I’d put Justice and Niekro in the “A” group — they were both very willing to express pride in personal accomplishment. I’d be guessing on the rest (including Aaron).

  10. 10
    td Says:

    I’m still undecided about LaRoche. I don’t share the intense dislike that many have for him, but I’m still not totally in his corner. The first half of last year was horrible and most of the criticism was deserved, but the second half was incredible. If he can stay consistent for an entire year, he may have an MVP type of year. On the other hand, he may be almost as likely to have a bust of a year, then turn around and have a good one.

    My problem with LaRoche and also with Andruw to some extent (even in the last 2 years) is consistency. If he can get hot when you really need him, great! If the’s cold, he can be a drag on the lineup for months!

  11. 11
    kc Says:

    hoboken_wood, Adam deserved the beating earlier in the season. I am very sure the Braves were closed to give up on Adam if not for his hot second half.

    At the same time, I also can’t believe people still blame Adam for not scoring that run in Game 4 last year. The guy was completely sicked, and it was Fredi’s fault for waiving him home. I can still remember Bobby gave that angry look at Fredi after that play.

  12. 12
    kc Says:

    td, Andruw is famous for being increditably inconsistently consistent. He is always inconsistent during the season, but his stats will always look pretty similar to his career average by the end of the season.

  13. 13
    Brian J. Says:

    KC’s right about LaRoche; Thorman was broght up pretty obviously to see what he could do once Roachie was gone.

    Free agency filings from the Braves so far: Baez, Pratt, Thomson, and Ward. Bon voyage, guys.

  14. 14
    Dan Says:

    “He cost us the Astros series when he jogged to third instead of going all out and scoring (easily).”

    Yeah, he only hit the grand slam that should have put the game away and was only throwing up and very ill when he got pulled from the game after getting thrown out at home and replaced by Julio Franco. Better to blame him than the man who couldn’t hold a five run lead.

  15. 15
    Cliff Harpe Says:

    It’s hard to say now if the LaRoche of late 2004 and 2006 (1.000 or so OPS) is an abberration. At his age, you have to figure he will be slightly higher overall over the next few years than he was in 2005.

    LaRoche is a good cathcer of thrown balls, has an excellent throwing arm, but has no range and lets an AWFUL amount of batted balls go by him. So, overall he is a MINUS first baseman in the field.

    However, he is probably the best trade bait anybody has to pry a young gun or two out of the Tigers. They need good left handed batters that draw walks and hit with power. They need a first baseman. LaRoche is still arb restricted for next year and the next. The drop off from Good LaRoche to Reasonably Projectable Thorman (their minor league stats same level and same age are very similar to slightly more favorable for Thorman) is ver little. The salary savings (6-7 million versus 350,000) would either pay half of a front line veteran starter or two front line relievers, either of which would improve the team much more. Think about it.

  16. 16
    mraver Says:

    LaRoche’s range factor is better than the leagues for his career, so unless that’s a product of Braves pitchers giving up excessive GBs to the right side, his range isn’t a negative at all….

    Also, I’m not sure why we’d want to trade him unless you’re confident that the flashes of brilliance he’s shown are just flashes and will never develope into anything consistantly. In Thorman, you’re assured of nothing and are looking at an upside of about LaRoche before he was beating the crap out of everything. In addition to his outstanding power, people often forget that LaRoche has a great batting eye. If he plays with any consistancy, this kid could seriously be one of the top 1Bs in the league. I mean, he was a little better than Carlos Delgado last year if that puts things into perspective.

  17. 17
    Marc Schneider Says:

    If you were the Tigers, which of their young pitchers would you trade for LaRoche? LaRoche is a pretty good player, certainly better than others the Braves have had at first base, but in the American League, you need real mashers at first base. I’m skeptical that the Tigers would trade a potentially dominant starter for LaRoche.

    I don’t think LaRoche is lazy. I totally agree with the commenter above about the irritating phony hustle of guys like Rose. What’s the point of running to first base on a walk? What are you proving? And, let’s face it, Bonds doesn’t run out every ground ball to second base, but who would you rather have on your team (personality aside)–him or David Eckstein?

  18. 18
    sansho1 Says:

    Thorman’s minor league career has been a model of consistency. His first appearance at each level is a struggle, then he figures it out the second time around. You could say that about a lot of players, yes, but how many of them are this consistent:

    Level 1st try 2nd try (OPS) Age
    A+ 702 819 21-22
    AA 732 866 22-23
    AAA 751 868 23-24
    ML 701 ??? 24-25

    I think it’s reasonable to suggest that Thorman could produce in the 820 range. But LaRoche’s minor league numbers were actually a good bit better than Thorman’s:

    Level 1st try 2nd try (OPS) Age
    A+ 666 918 21-22
    AA 773 892 22-23
    AAA 826 DNP 23

    And LaRoche only made $420,000 last year — is he really in line for a $6 million raise?

  19. 19
    bledsoe Says:

    Fake hustle is one thing; real hustle is another. I’ve never seen either from Laroche.

    Fake hustle is sliding into first base unnecessarily. Real hustle is running out grounders (we’re talking 90 feet here) hard so that 6-8 more times a year you beat out a bang-bang play, or a bobble or beat a DP. Those things win games. I hate to see guys pull up at the bag on a dead walk.

    But guys like Eckstein, that’s the real thing. A lot of his value comes from overachieving.

    Baseball is one of the least demanding games in terms of conditioning, etc. There’s no excuse for not running out your 4 ABs hard.

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