Yesterday, Adam LaRoche was the subject of Bob Ley’s Outside the Lines on ESPN. The show focused on LaRoche’s change in performance since going on the ADD drug Concerta. The implication was that the drug was responsible for Adam’s up-tick in performance. In this morning’s AJC, Dave O’Brien is critical of the program for offering no other explanation of Rochy’s improvement and suggests an alternate explanation:
In edited interviews with LaRoche and other Braves players, no mention was made of another factor the team believes helped him turn his season around — playing every day, instead of being benched vs. left-handed pitchers. …
He began taking medication in late June — the same week he started playing vs. lefties after platoon partner Brian Jordan broke a collarbone.
I rarely watch Ley’s show, which I like, but I just happened to catch this one. I, too, thought the accusation that the medicine, which is on the banned substance list, was sole cause of LaRoche’s turnaround was off-base. However, I don’t think batting against lefties has anything to do with it. If anything, it makes his job more difficult.
Let’s look at LaRoche’s splits by month.
April .747 May .910 June .756 July 1.043 August 1.239 September .947
He certainly has performed better since June; however, that May wasn’t too shabby. Unfortunately, I don’t have a simple method for calculating PrOPS by month, but I can tell you that I’ve monitored them all season, and he had been underperforming earlier in the season. Couple this with the fact that he underperformed in 2005, and his numbers seem more outrageous. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the medication is helping, but he should have been given some credit for his maturation as a hitter. I certainly don’t think that Adam’s performance is beyond the realm of the ability he demonstrated before going on the drugs. But, no one asked me—or anyone else—and it’s a subject that should have been addressed.