Results tagged ‘ Chris Davis ’
Another game, another night without Mike Olt in the line-up for the Texas Rangers. When this occurred yesterday, I noticed a tweet which set out to prove, in 140 characters or less, that Rangers manager Ron Washington is biased against rookies and refuses to play them in favor of his veterans. The tweet stated that, in Wash’s tenure as manager of the Rangers, the only “first year” players to even get 200 at bats in a season have been Elvis Andrus, Brandon Boggs, Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak.
Is it true? Does Wash favor his veterans at the expense of the rookies? I did a little digging. The answer? Compared to other managers in recent history, Wash actually has used those first year players even more than others!
The person who put forth the tweet merely said first year players. That’s different than players who are still technically rookies. First year simply means the first year they appeared in a Rangers uniform, even if it was a September call-up.
That being the parameter, I looked up the history of the following major league managers: Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona and Mike Scioscia. In the case of Scioscia, I’ve gone through his entire managerial career. For Francona and Manuel, I’ve focused on five-year spans in which their teams were contenders to go to the World Series.
Francona won a World Series his first year with the Red Sox in 2004. That year, first-year Kevin Youklis got over 200 AB’s. In the ensuing four seasons, the only players to exceed the magic 200 AB plateau were Dustin Pedroia in 2007 and Jed Lowrie in 2008. Three players in five years.
For Manuel the results are even more striking. Starting in 2007, the year before the Phillies won the World Series, through 2011, there has not been one season in which a first year player received more than 200 at bats.
Finally, looking at Scioscia’s managerial career from 2000 to 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels, we find that first year players under Scioscia have only fared well in one season. In 2006, three first year players got more than 200 at bats: Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick. In not one of the other 11 seasons Scioscia has managed the Angels has a first year player accrued more than 200 at bats in a season.
Like the Rangers, all three of these other teams have been in what could be considered World Series “windows”, years in which they had a chance to go far in the playoffs or were just a year away from being there. In just six years of managing, Ron Washington has managed to give more playing time to first-year players than any other.
So does Wash favor his veterans? No more than any other manager in his situation. And maybe even a little less.
Mitch Moreland has been struggling lately for the Texas Rangers. His batting average looks not too bad, currently sitting in the .260-.270 range. Yet Moreland has had his struggles and has been striking out with increasing frequency.
Maybe the sample size is too small, but maybe, just maybe, having Chris Davis breathing behind his back helped spur Moreland on and now, with Davis gone to the Baltimore Orioles, Mitch doesn’t have the same sense of urgency with each at bat that he once did.
Going to Baseball-Reference.com, I took a basic look at Moreland’s stats in 2011 when Davis was also on the roster and those when Davis wasn’t, be it being at AAA Round Rock or, more recently, after leaving the Rangers organization.
Here’s Moreland with Davis on the roster:
147 AB 19 Runs 41 hits 9 Doubles 6 Home Runs 18 RBI .278 AVG
With Davis not on the roster:
286 AB 40 Runs 74 Hits 10 Doubles 1 Triple 10 Home Runs 30 RBI .258 AVG
Without Chris Davis to worry about, Moreland’s batting average is 20 points lower, his home run rate is once every 28.6 at bats compared to once every 24.5 at bats with Davis there. Meanwhile, Moreland has been striking out over 20% of his at bats when Davis hasn’t been there. With Davis on the roster, he was striking out only 18.3% of the time.
I’m no mathematician so I don’t know what is considered a good sample size or what amount of deviation is acceptable before a trend can be determined. It does appear, however, that maybe having someone like a Chris Davis wanting to take a job away from him makes Mitch Moreland a better player.
While all eyes were on the Rangers in their pursuit of the Padres‘ Heath Bell, the asking price from San Diego might have been too high. Instead of Bell, the Boys From Arlington instead went to the AL East today and picked up Koji Uehara in exchange for two major leaguers, Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter.
Uehara is a soft thrower, but has a 7.75 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio and opponents are hitting a miniscule .152 against him this year. Since Hunter is involved in the trade, a roster move won’t be necessary to make room for Uehara. Indeed, the trade actually opens up another roster spot on the offense.
While I understand they were both expendable in terms of the overall make-up of this Rangers team, I will miss both Hunter and Davis, especially Chris Davis. Tommy Hunter has a place in my heart because he was the starting pitcher in the first World Series game I ever got to attend, picking up the loss in Game 4 against the Giants. He was a major factor for the Rangers in 2010, winning 13 games in 17 decisions. Still, Hunter started 2010 on the DL before coming back in June. This year, he was all set to be the 4th starter in the rotation when he pulled a groin muscle in his last spring training start. Then, he pulled the same muscle again while on a rehab assignment in Round Rock. By the time he finally came back, Alexi Ogando was firmly entrenched in the 4 hole and Hunter was relegated to the bullpen. Hunter’s overall fitness regimen has been questioned, not surprising because he is a heavyset young man.
Davis is one of those guys you can’t help but root for, even when he drives you nuts with the pitches he chooses to swing at (the closest equivalent for a Rangers fan would be Pete Incaviglia). I’ve always liked Chris, but he’s in the situation he’s in because he couldn’t take advantage of his opportunities. Davis torched his way through the minors and forced his way onto the big league roster in 2008 with his prodigious power. He teased us with his potential. When he came to Texas at the midway point of the season, Davis hit .285 in 80 games with 23 doubles, 17 home runs and 55 RBI. Yes, he struck out a lot (88 K’s vs. 84 hits on the year), but one could live with the K’s if power like that continued.
Davis entered 2009 as THE choice to man first base for the Rangers and hopes were high entering the season. Sadly, Davis played himself right back into the minors. It’s not that he did horribly- in 113 games, he hit .238 with 21 HR and 59 RBI. The thing is, that’s how the season ended. When Davis was sent down to the minors on July 5th, he was down to .202 with 52 hits and 114 strikeouts with just 17 walks. When he came back in late August, Davis hit over .300 the rest of the way to recover to that .238 final. Again, a teaser to make Rangers fans hopeful for 2010.
Last year, hopes were high for a Rangers AL West championship, with Davis anchoring first base on a potent offensive team. Defensively, Davis was getting very favorable reviews as one of the better first basemen in the league. Offensively, things kept getting worse. This time it would take less than a month for Rangers brass to make a move. Hitting a lowly .188 on April 22nd with no homers and just 1 RBI, Davis was sent back to the minors to make way for highly regarded prospect Justin Smoak.
Smoak didn’t make anyone forget Davis’ defense, but offensively he was an improvement, albeit not by much. Davis’ career with Texas may have been over at that point, except Smoak became the linchpin in the deal that brought Cliff Lee to the Rangers July 10th. Davis came back up to the cheers of the Arlington faithful (seriously, you should have heard the applause he received in his first at bat when he came back). With another chance to prove himself, Davis spent the month of July doing almost exactly what he did in April- a .189 average, 0 homers and 2 RBI. Again, he was sent down, this time in favor of rookie Mitch Moreland.
Since that date, Davis has been unable to do anything to change the Rangers’ mind on him. To his credit, he has done everything the Rangers have asked him to do. He’s kept his head up and worked hard to earn another chance. The problem this time has been that Moreland has done nothing to merit having the first base job taken away from him. Davis has burned up AAA Round Rock this year and had three different stints with the parent club, one lasting all of one game. The most recent was a week ago, when he was recalled to play third base with Adrian Beltre going on the DL.
Still, Davis’ days with the Rangers had appeared to be numbered, the only question being when he would become part of a trade. That trade happened today.
I truly hope Davis makes the most of his opportunity with the Orioles. He works hard, plays a mean first base and has the power potential to make a mark on the league. Maybe playing for a club that still has a way to go before being in playoff contention will help, as he’ll probably be given more of a chance to prove himself.
As for me, I hope Uehara makes me forget about Hunter and Davis quickly.
The ESPN’s of the world will tell you all the superlatives about Monday’s thrashing of the Minnesota Twins. There are quite a few “highest this” and highest thats” to be read, as well as a number of “only the 8th time since 1920″ and “only the 20th time since…”.
Instead, I will point two interesting positive stats before bringing up the REAL subject of the column. First, despite having more of the “No Name” pitching staff, the Rangers are the only team in baseball right now with four ten game winners (CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando). With last night’s win by Derek Holland, Texas also boasts the only staff in the bigs with five 9-game winners. That shows A) Texas starting pitchers are pitching deep into ball games and B) despite the woes of the bullpen, they generally win games they have the lead in for the starters.
Now for the REAL subject. Monday was one ugly win. Lost amid the three hit and four hit games of most of the starting offensive line-up, there was a lot of ugly to be seen by the winners. There were four errors committed in the game by the winners. Two of the errors went to 3rd baseman Chris Davis, who also suffered the brutal legacy of being the only Rangers starter not to get a hit at 0-6 with two strikeouts. With Adrian Beltre on the DL, this is Davis’ last chance to impress the fans and Rangers brass and he just did not have it last night.
Embarrassing, too, was the performance of the Rangers bullpen, particularly Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes is already skating on thin ice and giving up a three run home run and throwing over 30 pitches in an inning of work did not help his cause. In addition, Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz also gave up runs in relief. I think if the game had gone 14 innings, the Twins just might have come back!
Still, it was a big win and Texas picked up a game on the Angels as well. I just wish it had looked better than the final score indicated.
So let me get this straight. The VERY DAY I post my first ever somewhat negative comments about Nelson Cruz and how his season to date could make him a part of a trade package this week, he goes out Friday night and goes 4 for 4 with 8, count ‘em, 8 RBI??? Nelson, did you take exception to something I wrote or what???
All kidding aside, The Texas Rangers will need Cruz to start coming through in a big way more than ever now. In the very game he went nuts against the Toronto Blue Jays, All-Star 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre was pulling up lame and headed for a minimum two week stay on the DL. The only good part about Beltre’s injury during the game is it gave Omar Quintanilla his first action in a Rangers uniform. Who’s Omar Quintanilla, you say? He’s the utility infielder called up from Round Rock when Andres Blanco went on the DL. Despite being with the big club for over two weeks, this was the first game Quintanilla had gotten into in all that time. Shows how much the Rangers really need that last utility infielder.
With Beltre on the shelf, Chris Davis has gotten the call for the third time this season to try to re-establish himself as a bona fide major leaguer. Davis has been tearing up AAA pitching this year to the tune of 22 HR’s and 68 RBI, as well as chipping in three longballs and five RBI for the parent club. Davis and Michael Young will share the third base duties while Beltre is out, unless Davis is involved in a trade. I was worried Beltre’s injury would take Davis out of the picture as a possible trade piece, but scribes with more inside knowledge of the Rangers than I feel he’ll still go if the piece Texas gets in return is that good.
Still, Davis, Young and Cruz are all going to have to step up in Beltre’s absence. Adrian was leading the club in RBI’s and providing great protection for Josh Hamilton in the three hole. Young moves into the clean-up spot for now with Cruz moving up to 5th.
Texas took two of three from the visiting Blue Jays over the weekend, easily taking the first game 12-2 behind Cruz’ 8 RBI and Colby Lewis‘ outstanding pitching. Game 2 was a 5-4 squeaker that looked like a Rangers loss until the ultimate in small ball did the Jays in.
Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the 9th, Mike Napoli led off with a walk. Mitch Moreland, who had ZERO sacrifice bunts in his major league career entering the at bat, laid down a bunt and managed to reach first safely when the throw to the bag was wide. With runners on first and second, Ian Kinsler went for another sacrifice bunt. This one was fielded cleanly for the first out, putting runners at second and third. Craig Gentry then replaced Napoli at third. Not to be outdone, Elvis Andrus laid down the squeeze bunt. Gentry scored the tying run and a real heads-up play got Andrus out at first to put a runner on third with two outs. The Jays intentionally walked Hamilton, bringing Young to the plate. Michael hit a fly to right that was misjudged and dropped in at the warning track, plating the game winner.
Going for the sweep on Sunday, the Rangers faced their first southpaw since Beltre went on the DL in Brett Cecil. Things did not go well. Cecil stymied the R’s on four hits and the Jays scored 3 against Alexi Ogando in the 6th to come away with a 3-0 win to salvage one win in the set. It was kind of surprising to see the lefthanded Davis in the line-up against Cecil at DH. I figured Texas would go with Napoli at DH and Yorvit Torrealba at catcher, but it was not to be. It will be interesting to see if Texas will struggle against lefties more with Beltre out.
All in all, a decent weekend. Texas maintains a three game lead against the second place Angels. Now the Twins are in town for a four game set. Trade deadline is Sunday. Who’s about to become a Ranger? Heath Bell? Mike Adams? Carlos Beltran? Tune in next time, same “bat” channel!
Having become a recent Twitterer (@RangersBlogger if you want to “follow” me), I have just recently come to realize how quickly news spreads through the Twitterverse compared to the real world.
Take Tommy Hunter, for example. Remember Tommy Hunter? Big, beefy guy. Won 13 games for the Rangers in 2010. Started Game 4 of the World Series (the game I was at!). Hasn’t been heard from in 2011 due to not one, but TWO pulled groins- one at the end of Spring Training, the other on his last pitch of a rehab outing. Oh, yeah, that guy!
Hunter has been making rehab starts at AAA Round Rock for the last couple of weeks. Today it was announced he would be pitching tonight for Round Rock- in relief. Further, all his rehab appearances from here on out will be in relief.
Ladies and gentlemen, within a span of three minutes, this tidbit had reached my Twitter In-Box from no fewer than six sources I follow. This is now news because it gives every indication that the Rangers brass has decided Hunter’s role with the big league club in 2011 will be in the bullpen. This is a nod to the job Alexi Ogando has done as a starter in Hunter’s place. Now the question is, will Hunter serve in short relief or long relief/spot starter duty?
Best guess here is that Hunter will be used as a 2-inning guy, in there to get Texas through the 7th inning before making way for Mark Lowe, Darrin Oliver and maybe Darren O’Day in the 8th. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of pitcher you’d use for one inning two out of every three games.
Speculation is also running rampant in Ranger Land that Derek Holland‘s days as a starter in 2011 may be coming to a close, as Hunter’s fellow rehabber Scott Feldman has had two pretty good outings at Round Rock. Not sure yet how I feel about that. At some point, the Rangers have to stick with a plan for Holland instead of yanking him back and forth. On the other hand, Feldman won 17 for the Rangers in 2009. If he can come close to that form, he’s a definite asset as a starter. As they say on 1st place teams, this is a good problem to have.
One other note from the minors: Chris Davis has been playing left field lately down at Round Rock. While some may say this is another way the Rangers have of increasing Davis’ trade value, I think it’s more indicative the Rangers may be trading David Murphy before the deadline, bringing Davis back to the bigs after it happens. Davis has more power potential than Murph and if he shows he can cover left field even close to what Murphy has, it would make more sense to have Davis there.
Ten minutes away from the first pitch of Texas-Houston Game 3 at RBIA. Looking forward to a sweep!
Kinsler’s About To Be A Daddy
Well maybe this explains the bipolar stats alluded to in this morning’s post: The Texas Rangers have placed Ian Kinsler on the paternity leave program and recalled Chris Davis to take his place on the roster for the next 1-3 days. This could help explain Kinsler’s woeful batting average on the road in 2011. We sometimes forget professional athletes are human too. Maybe being away from his wife so close to the birth of a child has been weighing on Ian’s mind a bit.
Bosley Dismissed As Hitting Coach
In other hitting news, there’s word that the Rangers have dismissed Thad Bosley as their hitting coach, replacing him for now with AAA Round Rock hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Bosley replaced Clint Hurdle, who everyone agrees did an amazing job in 2010. It was Bosley’s first major league job in eight years, I believe, since serving in the same capacity for the A’s when current Rangers manager Ron Washington was 3rd base coach there.
If Bosley has been released, that would seem to be a bit of a rebuke by the Rangers front office towards Wash, who I’m sure put in a personal recommendation to the brass for Bosley.
We saw in 2010 the Rangers weren’t afraid to make moves early and often in their quest for a division title. Bosley’s dismissal serves as a reminder 2011 will be no different than 2010.
Building a good team is like putting together a good rock band. You usually have one person fronting the band (like Bon Jovi), one or two others everyone knows and who occasionally get their own songs to sing (like George Harrison and Ringo Starr) and then the ones you whose names you seldom remember (or even know) but play an integral part in the band’s success (like the horn section of Chicago).
The Rangers offensive line-up is a good example of the rock band approach. Josh Hamilton’s your lead singer. Other members of the band who get their times to shine on guitars and vocals are Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre.
Then there’s the horn section. A group like Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without the horn section, yet they are as anonymous as anyone. For the Rangers, Mitch Moreland is in the horn section (along with David Murphy).
Moreland, like Ian Kinsler, was a lowly 17th round draft pick for the Rangers. If things had gone the way they’d planned all along, Moreland wouldn’t even be wearing a Texas uniform in 2011. He might not even be in the organization at all. Instead, Chris Davis was supposed to be manning first base for the next ten years in Arlington.
Davis, however, failed to take advantage of his many opportunities. His high strikeout rate and low average led to a demotion midway through the 2009 campaign. When he got off to an equally slow start in 2010, he was jettisoned to AAA early in favor of Justin Smoak. When Smoak went to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, Davis had yet another shot and couldn’t convert it, so the Rangers brought up Mitch Moreland for a shot. Moreland hasn’t relinquished his position since.
At the end of the season, when everyone talks about how the best players in the Rangers rock band performed, it will be easy to forget the horn section. The odds are, however, that Mitch Moreland will have a higher batting average than some of them, he’ll have more home runs than some of them, he may even wind up with more RBI’s than some of them.
Currently, Moreland is third on the team in batting average, fourth in home runs, fourth in runs scored, fourth in doubles and third in walks. Not bad for the anonymous horn section.
While Elvis irritatingly keeps booting grounders, it was good to see not only a Rangers win for the first time in four games, it was incredibly gratifying to see the performances of both Chrises on the Rangers roster.
The biggest was from Christopher John Wilson. It’s been said often (especially by Rangers fans) that Texas doesn’t have a true Top of the Rotation guy, the stopper who puts an end to losing streaks and sets the tone for the entire staff. One CJ Wilson did his best to put that notion to rest.
Wilson was brilliant in pitching the first Rangers complete game of the season, allowing only six hits, none for extra bases, walking only one and striking out 12. It didn’t start out looking good for Wilson, as he gave up single runs in each of the first two innings, the first off a combination of weak singles and the second due to the now annoyingly obligatory Texas errors (Andrus and Ian Kinsler).
After the second, Wilson was nigh unstoppable, retiring the final 14 batters in order and moving to 4-1 on the season. This is also the third game out of the last four that Wilson has walked only one batter. A year ago, CJ gave up more walks than anyone in the AL.
A year ago, Wilson was “Grasshopper” to Cliff Lee’s Master Po, soaking up knowledge from a pitching master. Those lessons are starting to take root now. Wilson is well on his way to becoming the premier free agent pitcher after this season concludes. He’s made it clear he would love to stay in Texas. Here’s hoping Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan can make it happen.
Meanwhile, Chris Davis had reason to celebrate as well. Davis hit his 40th big league home, but only his second since the end of the 2009 season, to give Texas an insurance run, making it a 4-2 game at the time.
Adrian Beltre is the Texas third baseman for at least the next six years. Mitch Moreland is the lefthanded hitting first baseman and has done nothing to warrant losing the position. Davis, for all his potential, played his way out of the Rangers good graces and is pretty much a dead man walking on the roster, merely filling a space until Josh Hamilton returns from the DL. From there, he’s destined to either return to AAA Round Rock or be used as trade bait.
Davis is a plus defender at both first and third. His problem has always been a big hole in his swing and a failure to hit breaking pitches. As a power hitter, the hole probably will never go away, but if Davis ever learns to lay off some of the breaking balls, he could come back to being a scary big league hitter. Getting a tater off AL Rookie of the Month Michael Pineda was a good start.
Chris Davis might actually have a small window of opportunity with Texas right now. Nelson Cruz is out nursing a tight quad muscle. By necessity, that puts Moreland into the outfield for now, allowing Davis to get a couple consecutive starts at first. Since there doesn’t seem to be much future for him long-term in Texas, every successful at bat not only helps the Rangers in the game, it also enhances his trade value. Keep it up, Chris!
Colby Lewis had his first strong start of the year his last time out against Oakland. He’ll get the ball tonight in the series finale against Seattle. Texas hasn’t won consecutive games since their three game sweep of the Royals a week and a half ago. Sure would be nice to see that happen tonight!
After the euphoric three game home sweep of the Royals, the Rangers celebrated by dropping three of four at home against the Blue Jays, and now three of four on the road to the A’s.
It’s been aparticularly gruesome time to be watching Texas Rangers baseball. The starting pitching that was so strong in the early going has encountered some problems, particularly Matt Harrison or, as one web site so aptly put it, “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Harrison.” As good as Harrison’s first three starts were, his last two have been the polar opposite, including Sunday’s 1 2/3 inning, four run debacle.
It would be easy to lay much of the blame on the lack of Josh Hamilton in the line-up, but the reigning AL MVP doesn’t have anything to do with the Texas defense committing 18 errors in the last 12 games. Even a defensive whiz like Elvis Andrus has been affected. He’s up to 7 errors already on the young season, putting him on pace for almost 40 errors (Elvis had 21 a year ago). As much as I ragged on Michael Young in a previous post for his abysmal D at first base when he plays there, EVERYONE is joing the E parade. Outfielders, infielders, pitchers. If there was a way for the DH to commit an error, right now the Rangers would find a way to do it.
Even without Hamilton, this should be a potent line-up, but the offense is bipolar as well. Sandwiched in between a one and two run performance against the A’s was an 11-run outburst in the second game of the set. The problem has been, outside of Young, nobody is hitting with any consistency, although Elvis is starting to hit a little better. But the biggest culprit to the Rangers offensive inconsistency is Nelson Cruz. The boomstick has fizzled. Since Hambone went down, the Rangers #5 hitter has sputtered, hitting a weak .203 with 26 strikeouts in only 77 at bats. It’s awfully tough to get a sustained rally going when your biggest power hitter is barely contributing.
Still, I take comfort in the following:
1) The Red Sox, who lost three in a row to the Rangers and almost lost three in a row to the Mariners, are an astounding 5-0 against the Angels this year, helping the Rangers stay tied for the AL West top spot at 16-13.
2) That 16-13 record is a game better than the Rangers’ mark a year ago, and we all know where Texas went from there.
3) It’s pretty funny watching the message boards at the other Rangers sites, where the Michael Young haters are really digging deep to explain why the only consistent offensive force right now for Texas is still somebody the team could easily do without. Even I have to admit that, despite his defensive shortcomings, Young played a GREAT defensive game at second base in Monday’s series closing loss.
4) Chris Davis still doesn’t have an RBI for the Rangers this year, but he’s not stinking up the joint in his latest stint. Since striking out in three of his first four at bats, Davis has since gone 4-13 with two doubles, three walks and only two K’s. I still think Texas would be better served with another outfielder on the roster as opposed to Davis, but he is being productive in his limited playing time.
5) Seeing the young pitchers get an opportunity in important situations. Cody Eppley, Ryan Tucker and Pedro Strop have all gotten some meaningful innings. Strop has command issues, but has also gotten out of some jams of his own making. Eppley has given up only a solo home run in his first four appearances. Tucker struck out the side in his first outing against the A’s on Friday and gave up an unearned run in his second outing on Sunday. While the bullpen is in desperate need of Neftali Feliz coming off the DL on Friday to close games out, these three show the loss of Darren O’Day as a 6th/7th inning righthander might not be as severe a loss as initially thought.
6) CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland all had pretty good starts against the A’s. Not great, but pretty good. Harrison has posed a problem, but there’s been good news reported on the rehabbing Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman. Help could be on the way soon.
7) Osama’s gone bye bye.
Three games against the Mariners to close out the road trip. Lay an egg in Seattle and I might not be seeing quite so many silver linings. Still, it’s pretty easy to see that, with better defense and Nelson Cruz coming out of his slump, this team could improve a lot very quickly. It’d be great if it started tonight.