If you think back to Adam LaRoche‘s pre-Nats days, he had a bit of a reputation. Nothing seedy, but anyone who has played fantasy baseball could tell you he just wasn’t that good before the middle of the summer. People tried to explain it, but nobody really knew why it took him so long to start hitting. Whatever it was, it wasn’t all that surprising when LaRoche started out poorly in 2011, although it turned out he wasn’t entirely healthy, at least not the whole time.
Then he came back healthy in 2012 and surprised everyone by hitting great early. If you think back to a year ago, a good hitting LaRoche was far from given, and it was great to see. But that wasn’t the normal LaRoche – the normal LaRoche doesn’t do that in April, and the numbers back it up. This year, LaRoche is struggling mightily at the plate, and people seem to be trying to figure out why he’s doing so poorly. But maybe it’s just because he’s Adam LaRoche.
If we take a look at what he’s done over his career, and compare it to what he’s doing right now, it kinda makes sense. Yeah, it’s been a bad month, but it’s not so much worse than his normal first month of the year. Starting with the Batting Average, here’s how 2013 stacks up against his career:
It’s a little bit lower for sure, but it certainly shouldn’t be surprising. And of course, we can take a look at OPS and see similar starts and finishes apply over his career, and he’s started out quite poorly there in 2013.
One thing that has been pointed out is his high number of strikeouts, so I decided to take a look at his K rate. It also follows a similar pattern to the rest of his batting stats. The chart is reverse because its better to have a low number than a high number, but take a look at this.
It really shouldn’t be a big story that LaRoche is bad playing poorly right now – its what he usually does this time of year. Obviously, the numbers this year are off even from his typically poor starts, so that might be something of a concern. He’s hitting less and striking out more. Although if you compare it to 2011, it isn’t that different.
That April he hit .193/.297/.318, compared with his current .172/.262/.345. And he did worse in May of 2011, which suggests his injury might have not been horrible in April, and he was just having a LaRoche April.
It’s actually not his worst April – in 2007 he hit .133/.255/.265 and finished the season hitting a strong .275/.345/.458 with 21 HRs. Not a spectacular season, but certainly decent. His 2008 April was also worse, hitting .174/.260/.244, and he finished that year with an impressive .270/.341/.500 with 25 HRs.
The actual poor April shouldn’t make anyone too concerned right now, although it is worth noting that May and June, while better, aren’t typically is best months either. Perhaps the best way to describe him over his career, at least his offense, is as a slow starter. We were spoiled last year by an atypical Adam, but as long as this year fits his typical career pattern, he will end up with his normal numbers. Last year was probably a high water mark for his production, but over his career he has been a good first basemen and what he’s done so far shouldn’t make you think he will be anything less than a good first baseman. At least not yet.