Last year was not Adam LaRoche’s “career year” this year is his worst

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Adam LaRoche is having a down year for him.  In fact, this is his worst full year as a MLB player.  Note, this year is the aberration, not last year.I have heard this completely wrong analysis is the Nationals more than once:

“It was unrealistic for the Nats to expect a repeat of last year, where many players had career years”

By that they could not be talking about Zimmerman, Werth, Harper, or Desmond.  All four have actually been around the same or a little bit better this year than last.  “Career Year” is code word for Adam LaRoche.  So lets look at the career of Adam LaRoche.  He has been a remarkably consistent hitter. For comparison purposes I removed this year and last year and 2011 (when he was clearly hurt) for career comparisons.

Season Team HR   R RBI SB
2004 Braves 13 27 45 45 0
2005 Braves 20 25 53 78 0
2006 Braves 32 17 89 90 0
2007 Pirates 21 30 71 88 1
2008 Pirates 25 22 66 85 1
2009 3 Teams 25 25 78 83 2
2010 Diamondbacks 25 25 75 100 0
2012 Nationals 33 20 76 100 1
2013 Nationals 17 26 51 51 3

Last year he hit 33 home runs, which was a career best,  which was about one home run per 20 AB.  In his career he average one home run every 24 at bats with a standard with a standard deviation of 4.  So, his results from last year were within normal ranges.  In 06 with the Braves he hit one every 17 at bats.  This year he has hit one every 26 at bats. Again, within his career norms, but this time on the low side..

Season Team AVG OBP wOBA wRC+
2004 Braves 0.278 0.333 0.350 110
2005 Braves 0.259 0.320 0.329 99
2006 Braves 0.285 0.354 0.381 129
2007 Pirates 0.272 0.345 0.348 107
2008 Pirates 0.270 0.341 0.358 116
2009 3 Teams 0.277 0.355 0.359 119
2010 Diamondbacks 0.261 0.320 0.341 104
2012 Nationals 0.271 0.343 0.361 127
2013 Nationals 0.235 0.320 0.318 101

Adam has been a .271 career hitter.  Last year, he was .271 hitter.  This year he is only hitting .235.  His standard deviation for batting was only 9 percentage points.  Notice last year was normal Adam, this year not normal.  OBP:  Career average .338, Last year.343 with a standard deviation of 13  .  This year he is almost 20 percentage points below his career norm.  His best year was 09 the year he was traded twice.

Bottom line:  Looking at his stats, 2006 was his career year, with last year being one of his best but. His numbers were not too much out of his career norms though.  I think a lot of Nats fans are unfamiliar with him as a player and use his 2011 season where he was hurt in the Spring as a point of reference . This year is the strange year where he is performing outside what he normally does. especially in AVG..  Here is the catch, LaRoche is a real streaky hitter.  He could catch fire in September (like he has done in the past) or he could be on an age related rapid decline in skills.  This year his BA has dropped, but there are only 2 other first basemen in the NL who have more home runs than him.  The Nats have LaRoche under contract for another year.  There is already a chorus of people ready to dump Adam in a trade.  When it comes to his future with the team, I would expect him to here next year.  For the future, look up Jose Abrau.

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