Current New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez and New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez talked about the changes in the modern game.
Former New York Yankees third baseman and current ESPN broadcaster Alex Rodriguez has been keeping baseball fans entertained with his numerous Instagram live streams. On Tuesday, A-Rod brought along legendary New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez.
The two talked about the changes they’ve watched since their respective retirements. Notably, the two talked about the changes to the batting order. Many teams are hitting their best hitters second in the lineup to get them as many at-bats as possible, and Keith doesn’t like that.
“I’m old school. You cannot put a lineup of eight guys, eight Alex Rodriguezes, that are going to hit you 35-40 home runs a year,” Hernandez said via SNY. “You’ve got to have a balanced lineup, left and right, and table-setters at the top of the order. I know that they like to hit their big guys in the two-hole today to get more at-bats.
“I’m a traditionalist,” Hernandez continued. “You’ve got speed at the top, the one-two hitters. Guys that can handle the bat, get on base, second hitter is a guy who can hit-and-run, but that’s another lost art of the game. They don’t believe in that. Guys who can take pitches and allow the steal, then your big boppers come in, your traditional third hitter, your best hitter in the lineup average-wise, clutch hitter, line-drive hitter, then comes your 4-5-6 hitters. … That’s the meat of the order.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many Mets fans. Keith has gone on tirades against modern baseball numerous times before. He dislikes replay, he doesn’t like the analytics revolution, and he isn’t a fan of three true outcome hitting.
He’s a product of his era and it shows. He likes speed, patience, and power when it’s necessary. The old school idea is that you put guys on base and let the power hitters knock them in. That way, the power is doing as much damage as possible.
In some ways that still makes sense. Curtis Granderson hit 30 home runs for the Mets in 2016, but he only drove in 59 runs. That’s the danger a team runs into batting a power hitter at the top of their lineup.
Modern teams don’t really care about numbers like RBIs though. They care about home runs, OPS, WAR, and wRC+. Basically, if the hitter can do damage, then they should be in the lineup day in and day out. That way they can do as much damage as possible with consistent at-bats.
That model doesn’t make much sense to Keith and likely never will. He prefers the old way the game was played and the chess match it presented.