Perhaps I should go to some Yankee fansite if I really want to find people to examine this question, but I figure there might be lingering interest around here in our pay-ward son. This Hardball Times post on batter selectivity reminded me of a question that came up while looking at the background data on another post about the peak production of hall of fame shortstops: What exactly makes A-Rod such a good hitter? His plate discipline stats on Fangraphs indicate his K% has been better than average since he became a regular, and his BB% increased to better than average during his last year with the M's and has stayed that way. That is despite the fact that his O-Swing and Z-Swing rates fluctuate right around average, and his contact rates are actually consistently below average. His BABIP has fluctuated between average and way above average, and his ISO has, of course, always been quite high. The percentage of pitches he sees in the zone has consistently been below average.
I'm not experienced in interpreting these stats, but as I read it, A-Rod has been an average to above average hitter who generates massive power. His low O-Contact rates may actually help him if he tends to swing and miss when he gets fooled rather than weakly putting the ball in play. Continuing the at-bat may be more likely to lead to a BB than a K since pitchers are dancing around the zone out of respect for his power. I was really surprised that his contact rates are that low.
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who reads the data differently. The big thing I took from this is what can result from being exceptional at one component skill if it comes without sacrificing too much of the other ones. Is it true that average-ish pure hitting plus exceptional power can put you on a HOF path? Attaching that to a shortstop makes it a no-brainer, of course (and it seems like overkill to me, but then I guess some people put sugar on Cookie Crisp cereal, too).