Results tagged ‘ Michael Young ’
I’ll start this out by saying what I’ve said in these pages many a time before: I’m NOT a major proponent of WAR. I understand the concept of it, I just don’t totally agree with it because of the subjectivity of the defensive metrics. I don’t “speak” sabermetrics, but a great sabermetric argument for the way I feel was published today, as a free article, on Baseball Prospectus.
A way I can use WAR, though, would be as a comparison tool that doesn’t involve delving into a lot of different stats. I thought it would be interesting to see, at the 1/4 point of the season, how the Texas Rangers might look, record-wise, had they decided to keep everyone from last year’s Rangers team, instead of adding the pieces they added. To do that, I examined the respective WAR of the departed Rangers to their counterparts from this year’s team.
For this study, I’m using essentially the Texas Rangers team that essentially comprised the Rangers following the July 31st trading deadline.
Here’s how the former Rangers are faring so far in 2013, based on bWAR (via Baseball Reference.com):
Mike Adams (Philadelphia) 0.4
Ryan Dempster (Boston) 0.5
Scott Feldman (Chicago Cubs) 0.8
Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels) -0.6
Mark Lowe (Los Angeles Angels) -0.3
Mike Napoli (Boston) 1.0
Koji Uehara (Boston) 0.5
Michael Young (Philadelphia) 0.3
Now let’s look at this year’s Texas Rangers counterparts:
Jeff Baker 0.7
Lance Berkman 0.6
Jason Frasor 0.0
Leury Garcia 0.1
Derek Lowe 0.0
Leonys Martin 0.7
Joe Ortiz 0.0
A.J. Pierzynski 0.6
Nick Tepesch 0.0
The two biggest things that jump out at me: Leonys Martin‘s defense (the subjective part) has led to a much higher WAR figure than I thought, while, of the former Rangers, Ryan Dempster and Scott Feldman have both far exceeded what I most Rangers fans would have expected of them. Overall, the former Rangers out-WAR the current Rangers, but only by .2. If you’d like to extrapolate that to an actual record, WAR suggests the Rangers would be just where they are, at 24-14 or maybe one game better at 25-13, had they just stood pat with last year’s team. Of course, they’d have that record for a significantly higher payroll than they currently have, which would be a discussion for another day.
There are players that have defined just about every era of Texas Rangers baseball, good and bad.
The first team I followed, as the Washington Senators in 1970, were known primarily for Ted Williams managing and Frank Howard hitting.
Following the move to Texas, the first Rangers teams saw the emergence of Toby Harrah, followed by Jim Sundberg and Jeff Burroughs. In ’74 Fergie Jenkins came over from the Cubs and became the Rangers’ first dominant pitcher.
Buddy Bell came along and was the dominant name along with Sundberg for Texas starting in ’79 and going through ’83.
During the early Bobby Valentine years, the names we knew were Charlie Hough, Steve Buechele and Pete Incaviglia. In 1989, Nolan Ryan became the face of the Rangers, where he remained a fixture through 1993.
Gonzalez was the first to leave in 2000. At the end of that year came the next in line, Michael Young.
Young was the second guy in the trade with the Blue Jays that sent Esteban Loaiza to Toronto. Pitcher Darwin Cubillan was supposed to be the main piece. He appeared in all of 13 games in a Rangers uniform, compiling a 10.70 ERA before being sent packing to Montreal.
The second guy in the trade would only go on to play in 1,823 games for the Rangers, the most in club history. He also leaves Texas as the Rangers’ all-time leader in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and total bases. He was selected to seven All-Star teams, second only to Ivan Rodriguez in club history. He was named the Rangers Player of the Year five times, tying him with Juan Gonzalez for the most in club history.
Here’s the funny thing about Michael Young. He has never been the most important player in the Rangers’ line-up. His first couple of years, he had Palmeiro and Pudge right there with him. After they departed, there was Alex Rodriguez taking up the mantle. When A-Rod left, there was still Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock. They would then be supplanted by Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz.
All those players who provided the real pop. Yet Michael Young was anointed as the face of the franchise. Part of that is certainly due to longevity and continuity. Through all the changes, Young was a constant. But it was more than that. Every manager he’s ever played for has admired his work ethic, his professionalism. Ron Washington admits the running of the Texas clubhouse was a job he ceded to Michael Young.
The past few years he had major detractors, mainly because he twice demanded a trade. He volunteered to move to shortstop. He didn’t volunteer to be the third baseman. Two years after that he didn’t volunteer to become the DH/super utility guy. His relationship with General Manager Jon Daniels was strained, virtually non-existent at the end. Once he put on the uniform, though, Michael Young was all business. In the clubhouse and on the field, he didn’t complain about his role. Once the season began, he did his job to the best of his ability. Could I do that if I was asked to take a role I didn’t want? I seriously doubt it.
Young had a farewell press conference yesterday. He said in retrospect, he should have been more accepting of his move to third base but doesn’t regret anything about his displeasure in moving to DH. He looks at the move to Philadelphia as a new challenge and that he loves new challenges.
My guess is he will have a rebound year as the Phillies third baseman. He won’t be great defensively, but he’ll get his average back towards the .300 mark and he’ll hit for more power than he did in 2012. I’m also willing to bet Charlie Manuel and every Phillies player to a man will, by the end of the season, say he has made a positive difference in their club’s fortunes, no matter what his WAR might indicate.
I also predict that after his playing career is over and Jon Daniels has moved on to his next opportunity, Michael Young will return to the Rangers, be it in the front office, as a coach or even Rangers manager. And when that day comes, even his detractors will welcome him back with open arms.
I’m looking forward to seeing the development of Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin and Mike Olt over the next few years. Maybe they’ll be the ones who finally deliver that long sought after World Championship. If they do, I’ll be ecstatic. I’ll also think about Michael Young and wish he was there to see the dream come to fruition.
- Losing Face (40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com)
The more things stay the same, the more they change.
Two consecutive World Series appearances. Three consecutive playoff appearances. Unparalleled success. Brought about by constant change.
Now comes word that there’s a possibility they will also be without Michael Young. Strong rumors have Young going to the Phillies in exchange for a relief pitcher and a prospect provided he waives his 10-5 no trade rights to allow the move.
To Young fans, he has long been known as the Face of the Texas Rangers franchise. To his detractors, he is derisively nicknamed, alternately, “Face” and “Leadership”.
Young had a 2012 not to remember, sinking to new lows in batting average, losing much of his extra base power. The SABR folks will tell you he had one of the worst WAR’s in the last 22 years. On the other hand, to a man his teammates talk about the value of Young’s leadership in the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington says Young basically runs the clubhouse for the team.
From a pure statistics standpoint, losing Young might not hurt the club substantially. The question is, will that team cohesiveness remain the same if and when he’s gone?
I’m ambivalent about the possibility of Young leaving. I get that his best years are behind him and that he’s a defensive liability, while at the same time suspecting 2012 was the same kind of anomaly Derek Jeter had a couple years ago before coming back with a vengeance.
I also am not one to discount the idea of leadership in a clubhouse. A team, like a business, is composed of lots of disparate elements. Management provides the vision and department heads implement it. Beyond that, we all know work organizations that just seem to run smoother because of a worker bee who sets a tone that others just seem to follow. I’m willing to bet Michael Young is one of those people.
At this writing, there’s no guarantee Josh Hamilton will return to the Rangers. The odds are against Mike Adams returning as well. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be able to help until the back half of 2013 at best. If none of the Rangers free agents return AND Young is traded, the question becomes: Do the Rangers have the offensive horses to win WITHOUT Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, even if they manage to score Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks?
The past two seasons, Texas has succeeded largely because the parts they lost from the previous year were mostly complementary pieces, replaced by better alternatives (Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Napoli, Adams, Uehara). In 2013, there are going to be key pieces replaced and only time will tell if those pieces are better, worse or about the same as those they replaced.
Diehard fan I might be, but I don’t think Greinke and Upton would be enough to offset the loss of Hamilton, Young and Napoli. Two of the three, maybe. But not all three.
While it is disappointing that the Texas Rangers didn’t get past the Wild Card round of the playoffs, smarter heads like the front office prevail over the fans when it comes to breaking down the season. If we just took the pulse of “message board” fans, you would think Texas won only 65 games all year. In fact, they still managed 93 wins and were a very good team overall. They just weren’t a very good team over the last 14 games.
The question is, what went wrong? The front office will be addressing that over the next few weeks and make changes accordingly. To help them out, I’ve compiled this nifty little summary, compiled in the order I think is the most important to the eventual success level of the team.
INJURIES TO THE STARTING PITCHING STAFF: In 2011, the Rangers were the most blessed team in baseball. The starting five started all but five or six games the entire season. After converting from closer to starter, Neftali Feliz lasted only eight games, seven of them starts. His last start was May 18th before he was lost for the rest of 2012 and the first half of next season as well to Tommy John surgery. Two months to the day later, Colby Lewis went down with an elbow issue, never heard from for the rest of the season.
Jon Daniels gets a lot of credit for making the moves that built the Rangers into a winner, but not every move works every time. When Feliz went down, Texas signed Roy Oswalt. It was considered a brilliant move at the time, but Oswalt was rushed back to the big leagues a week or two too early and flopped as a starter, finishing the season in the Rangers bullpen as the middle reliever.
After Oswalt came Scott Feldman, who was as streaky as they come. Feldman started out 0-6, then won his next six decisions. Unfortunately, Scooter ended up dropping his last five decisions to end at 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA. At the trade deadline, JD acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs after failing to land Zack Greinke from the Brewers. To be fair, Dempster did compile a winning ledger with Texas. The problem was, he only beat teams with losing records. He lost every game he pitched against fellow playoff contenders.
BULLPEN INJURIES: Coming into the season, the Texas bullpen was among the strongest in the majors. By mid-season, the pen had become an issue. There was a revolving door in middle relief. After Feliz went down and Oswalt struggled, Alexi Ogando made a spot start and promptly pulled a hamstring early after just three innings of work, losing a month of playing time. Koji Uehara, who ended the season as perhaps the Rangers most effective reliever, went down just the day before Ogando, losing six weeks of time to the DL. Mark Lowe also found his way to the injured list. During the Rangers down month of July they were relying on relievers like Michael Kirkman, Yoshinori Tateyama and rookie Tanner Scheppers. Not a great recipe.
Josh Hamilton, ROLLER COASTER: While “Message Board Fans” put the entire blame on the 2012 season on Michael Young‘s poor offensive showing and Ron Washington’s habit of never giving Young a day off, Josh Hamilton’s June and July swoon had even more to do with it. Potent as the Rangers line-up can be, it is Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre who pace the offense. Hamilton was the AL’s Player of the Month for both April and May, but fell off the face of the Earth in June and July, batting a paltry .208 and striking out on three pitches more than any player has a right to. Hamilton compiled a 4.7 WAR for the season according to Fangraphs.com, but that’s deceiving. By the end of May, Josh was at a 3.3 WAR already and pacing towards almost a 10 WAR for the season. While a drop-off from those lofty heights could be expected, it’s still pretty reasonable to assume he should have given the Rangers 6-7 WAR production for the season. In other words, Hamilton probably cost the Rangers more games from June to October than Michael Young did all season on the basis of WAR.
TOO MANY PLAYERS WITH DOWN YEARS: Much has been written about Michael Young’s off year. Not as much was said about the down years of Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler. Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon called 2011 the Year of the Napoli. There was no better hitter in baseball over the second half of 2011. This season wasn’t nearly as kind. Napoli fell from a .320/.414/.631 with 30 HR and 75 RBI to .227/.343/.469 with 25 HR and 56 RBI. Kinsler had essentially the same batting average in 2012, but his power numbers were down, his walks were down and his strikeouts were up. He also regressed defensively, leading all AL second basemen in errors. Nobody, though, sunk as much as Michael Young. Young’s batting average went from .338 to .277, his RBI from 106 to 67 and from 58 extra base hits, he sank down to 38 in 2012. By the WAR stat, only Jeff Francouer had a poorer year.
DEPRECIATION OF THE RUNNING GAME: In their presser, Ron Washington called a question about the fall-off in the Rangers running attack “nitpicking”. I’m a Wash fan, but the question wasn’t nitpicking. As pointed out in a previous post, the fall-off from 2011 to 2012 was precipitous. Stolen bases were down from 143 to 91 while getting caught one less time in 2012 than they did in 2011. They were also picked off seven more times in 2012 compared to 2011. Conversely, opposing teams stole 106 bases on Texas in 2012 compared to 85 in 2011. Overall, that’s a difference of 73 bases from a year ago. By season’s end, the Rangers had virtually stopped running. Over the last 30 days of the season, Texas had only three steals and were caught stealing four times. Sorry Wash, that’s not a little thing.
WHEN BEING HEALTHY HURTS: Much has already been made of the Rangers offensive malaise over the last week and a half of the season. Wash has already said maybe he didn’t rest his regulars enough. In a couple of cases, there could very well be something to that. Take the case of Nelson Cruz. On one hand, Cruz set personal highs in RBI with 90 and runs scored with 86. On the other, Cruz only topped last year’s RBI total by three while playing in 35 more games. His home runs were down to 24 after hitting 29 a year ago. In 2011 his OPS was .821, in 2012 it was .779. Before this season, Cruz had five different stints on the disabled list over the previous two seasons. While his bat was missed, it could be surmised he had the advantage of being fresher when he returned from those DL trips. The same could be said of Ian Kinsler. 2011 was the first year in a while that Kins was healthy enough to play virtually the entire season. Playing over 150 games two years in a row, for someone with an injury history, could take its toll more than other players. Multitudes of articles have been written about innings counts for young pitchers and pitchers coming off injuries, but but hardly about game counts for young position players or position players coming off injuries. It may very well have had some effect on certain players.
THE MYSTERIOUS STOMACH VIRUS: This came early in the season, but who knows if it had an ultimate impact on the Rangers’ lack of energy at season’s end. In the month of May, Mike Napoli came down with a stomach virus. It spread through the clubhouse quickly. Ian Kinsler got it. Josh Hamilton got it. A host of Rangers players missed a game or two because of it. Nobody was affected more than Derek Holland. The virus caused Dutch to lose 20 pounds. At the end of May while battling the virus, Dutch didn;t make it out of the second inning, giving up 8 runs to the Mariners. Five days later, Holland’s fastball velocity was down so sharply he was pulled after 5 1/3 gritty innings. He would miss the next month getting his weight back up and back into playing shape. Whether this had anything to do with Holland’s dismal 4.67 ERA on the season is uncertain. Stories have come out in the last couple of seasons about players taking a long time to get their strength back after contracting Desert Fever and recovering from appendectomies. There’s always the chance the stomach virus had more of an impact than just the two-week span it was spreading in the clubhouse.
On the positive side, all these things happened to the Rangers in 2012 and they still managed to get to 93 wins on the season and a berth in the Wild Card playoff. This is still a team with a lot of potential.
Next Up: Looking ahead to potential off-season moves.
- The Running Game (Or Lack Thereof) (40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com)
- Nolan Ryan: Josh Hamilton picked worst time to quit chewing tobacco (aol.sportingnews.com)
This was going to be the “Why The Season Broke Down” analysis post. Instead, Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan, General Manager Jon Daniels and Manager Ron Washington decided today would be a great day to hold their first post-season press conference to talk about the season ending prematurely and what could transpire in the future.
First off, Dallas Morning News writer Evan Grant put to rest one rumor that has run rampant among Rangers on-line fans. He noted Jon Daniels not only gave Ron Washington his endorsement as manager of the club, but that both appeared quite relaxed and comfortable with each other. Many Rangers fans had imagined a power struggle between Wash and JD over the handling of highly regarded prospect Mike Olt after his promotion to the parent club. I never bought the whole power struggle conspiracy theory in the first place. Hopefully, this presser puts those rumors to rest.
Ah, but there was much to report beyond Ron Washington’s job security, with the biggest item reserved for the biggest free agent on the market this off-season, one Josh Hamilton. Daniels said the Rangers are NOT going to make Hamilton an offer during the exclusive negotiating window and will allow him to explore his options first. This is a gutsy call on JD’s part, but maybe not as risky as one might think.
Going into the off-season, Hamilton oftentimes stated the odds of him remaining a member of the Rangers was about 50-50. He also was quoted on more than one occasion he owed it to the Players Union to get the best deal possible, but would give the Rangers the first shot at his services. Daniels decided they’d waive the first shot. I find it highly doubtful Hamilton would have accepted the Rangers first offer no matter how generous because of his allegiance to the Players Union, so the front office passing up the chance to make that first offer might be much ado about nothing.
In addition, knowing Hamilton’s spiritual side, I believe (but have no proof) Josh’s agent and the Rangers already have a gentleman’s agreement to return to the Rangers after all the offers have come in to give Texas the last chance to re-sign him. That said, I’m sure the Rangers already have a final price and contract length in mind and will not hesitate to let Josh go if someone else offers him a better deal. That’s what they did a year ago with CJ Wilson and that’s what they’ll do here.
More from the presser: Daniels said no decisions have been made yet on coaching staff, the 2013 plans for Michael Young haven’t been discussed and that everyone in the organization accepts responsibility for the disappointing way the season ended. Washington admitted he probably played his regulars too hard and could have rested them more in the summer to keep them fresher for the stretch drive. He also said, despite a disappointing season, he still has faith that 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler can still do the job.
Reading between the lines, I think there will be casualties among the Rangers coaching staff, with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh being the top candidate to face the chopping block. Young’s fate likely rests on the outcome of the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes. If Hamilton goes, Young stays and vice versa. Daniels is right about everyone taking responsibility and should be lauded for including himself. After all, while the moves he made during the season were all considered the right ones, the fact is they didn’t work out. Roy Oswalt. Ryan Dempster. Geovany Soto.
For Wash’s part, I applaud him for addressing his fault of playing his regulars into the ground, but it won’t be enough for his detractors. Human nature, you know. You just want someone to admit they made a mistake. Then, when they do, you jump up and say, “See, that just proves what an idiot he is!” Fans. Gotta love them. Especially since I’m a fan (but a pro-Wash one).
Surprisingly, Mike Napoli’s impending free agency was not discussed during this press conference.
Two last tidbits. Daniels said the Rangers likely will carry a slightly larger payroll than they did this year. And Daniels said the Rangers still aren’t in a rebuilding phase. That’s a strong message, telling the faithful “Even if we lose Josh Hamilton, we’re planning on reloading for 2014.” Of course, that could also mean Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar aren’t in the 2013 season plans.
It’s going to be an interesting off-season. I can’t wait to see how they’re planning to remold this team.
A day later, that’s what it feels like. One reign is over, but now it’s time to pay honor to the new one that takes its place.
After a magnificent three-year run that no other stretch in over 40 years of fanhood even came close to, the end came as more of a thud than a gradual tapering off process. By failing to win more than four games of their last 14 or even one game of their last four, my Texas Rangers no longer have an ALDS playoff match-up to look forward to. No best of five showdown with the Yankees. No shot at finally achieving the ultimate prize that had eluded them in the previous two seasons.
An era has come to an end.
Make no mistake, this probably is the end of this cycle of Rangers vying for the ultimate prize. To be sure, they are far too talented to stumble to a losing record a year from now. There’s plenty of talent in place, more in the pipeline coming up and plenty of money to spend. But will the World Championship window be open a year from now? I tend to doubt it.
Some speculate there is a very real chance the longest-serving Ranger, Michael Young, could be traded or released in the off-season. It’s even more likely Scott Feldman suffers the same fate.
Because of the ignominious way the season ended, there could be turnover on the management side as well. While I think Ron Washington‘s job is safe, it wouldn’t surprise me to see hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh take the fall for the Rangers late-season offensive woes. Baserunning/first base coach Gary Pettis could become a casualty, as the Texas running game became a shell of what it had been the past two seasons. Maybe even bench coach Jackie Moore could be asked to think about retirement so the front office can give Wash a bench coach who more statistically inclined to convince the skipper he’s about to make a foolish move.
A month into the 2012 season, the narrative was “Pay Josh Hamilton whatever money he wants to keep him here”. On October 6th, the narrative has changed to “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Josh”. Hamilton received standing ovations in April. He and the nationwide TV audience heard audible boos following his last two meek at bats.
Something changed on this team in 2012. I don’t know whether there was clubhouse discord or whether the stomach virus that swept through the team in May had longer-lasting repercussions than anyone wants to admit. But something changed and by the time the season mercifully came to an end Friday night, it appeared the Rangers offense just flat-out didn’t have anything else to give.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have plenty to say about what went wrong, the Hamilton situation and what changes I think are in store. For now, I’ll just let it hurt for a day or two, posting my picks for BBA post-season honors, and cheering the AL West champion Oakland A’s in their ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.
The Rangers are dead. Long live the Rangers.
- O’s end Rangers’ run in AL, will face Yanks next (scores.espn.go.com)
- Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton talks boos, free agency after loss to Baltimore Orioles (espn.go.com)
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 3-4
Overall: 93-66 (1st Place AL West) (+2)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .444/.483/.741 2 HR 6 RBI
Nelson Cruz .333/.357/.708 2 HR 5 RBI
Raspa Cold (Offense): Geovany Soto 0 for 11 for the week.
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Koji Uehara 4.1 IP 0 Hits 0 Walks 10 Strikeouts
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Derek Holland 9.31 ERA in 9.1 IP 10 ER 2.07 WHIP
I thought everything would be attained by week’s end. Thanks to an underperforming offense, that did not prove to be true. Playing in front of the home crowd all week for the last time in the regular season, Texas struggled to a 3-4 mark on the week, splitting 4 games with the A’s while losing two of three to the Angels. The baseball gods conspired against the Rangers, who should have gone 5-2, but let two games get away from them.
Three games are all that remain on the schedule against the second place A’s. Those three will be played in Oakland, a park that hasn’t been kind to the Rangers over the years, even when the A’s had bad teams. The math is simple. Win one of three and clinch the AL West for the 3rd consecutive year while simultaneously knocking the Angels and Rays out of the playoffs. Win two of three and Texas likely has home field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Sweep the A’s and home field is assured. Get swept by Oakland and the Rangers are one of the two Wild Card teams.
Making matters worse, third baseman Adrian Beltre aggravated a shoulder injury in the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader and is questionable for tonight’s opener. Michael Young is also questionable after feeling tightness in his Achilles during the nightcap twin bill. He was pulled after the 6th inning, shortly before Beltre.
My preference is for Texas to win tonight. Get it over with. If they can do that, they could scratch Matt Harrison from his start Tuesday night to give him extra rest before the post-season begins. Oakland swept the Mariners over the weekend, coming back from two down in the 9th to win in extra innings on Saturday. The A’s won’t roll over. Texas cannot be complacent.
One win. That’s all that’s needed.
Texas Rangers fan that I am, I cheer my guys on through thick and thin. Many a time, I get my brains twisted all out of sorts when I read fellow Rangers fans who are overly critical of the moves Ron Washington makes, the failures at the plate of Michael Young and the like.
This does not make me immune from criticizing my favorite team. I’ve taken my own shots here in this corner of the Internet universe, including but not necessarily inclusive of: wanting less playing time for Michael Young; the two-month disappearance of Josh Hamilton‘s offense; Scott Feldman‘s pitching; and Ian Kinsler‘s defense.
After splitting the first two games of their four game set with the second-place Oakland A’s, I could easily choose to go after the moribund Rangers offense, which has managed all of two hits with runners in scoring position over the past five games. But I won’t. I will temporarily give credit to the pitching staffs of the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s here. Both teams have good pitching and even the best offenses will struggle against good pitching.
What is more unforgivable in my book is the nature of the Rangers’ running game throughout the 2012 season, both offensively and defensively. If Texas doesn’t make it back to the Fall Classic, I will put a lot of the blame on this category.
Defensively, Texas is ahead of only Minnesota in the percentage of runners caught stealing at a mere 20%. Rangers catchers have only nailed 17 runners attempting to steal all season, while allowing 103 to swipe a base successfully. A years ago, that figure was 35% caught stealing and only 85 successful steals. With eight games to go in the regular season, that means the Rangers have already given up 18 bases more in 2012 than a season ago.
As for the offense, the figures are even worse. A year ago, Texas swiped 143 bases on the year and were caught 45 times, a success rate of 76%. This year? Only 90 steals while being caught 44 times, a 67% success rate. Rangers runners have been caught just one time less than a year ago, while stealing 53 less bases! A year ago, Rangers baserunners were picked off base 22 times. This year, 28 pick-offs, including three times in the last two games against the A’s.
Elvis Andrus: 5 picks and 37 steals in 2011, 8 pick-offs and only 20 steals in 2012. Ian Kinsler: 30 steals and 7 pick-offs in 2011, 21 and 8 in 2012. Craig Gentry was 18 for 18 in steal attempts and wasn’t picked off once in 2011. This year? Only 13 of 20 stealing while getting picked off three times.
As potent as the Rangers offense has been the past few years, it flat-out hasn’t been as good as it was the past two seasons. Batting average, On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage are all down from a year ago, but no category is as extreme as the base running statistics.
Is this just a case of a team playing just a little more tired because of playing 33 extra games over the past two seasons? Maybe. I’m more inclined to say it’s more mental fatigue than physical. Texas is making more mental errors than I’ve seen them make in years. As much as I want them to go all the way and claim their first World Championship, my fear is these mental errors are going to catch up with them in the post-season this year.
I sure hope I’m wrong.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 4-2
Overall: 87-59 (1st Place AL West) (+3)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .368/.478/.842 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 Walks, 8 Runs Scored
Michael Young (Believe It Or Not!) .500/.583/.600 2 Doubles, 3 RBI, 4 Walks
Raspa Cold (Offense): Geovany Soto .077/.188/.154 (But Walked Twice and had 3 RBI!)
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 9 K’s in 7 IP, 0.57 WHIP
Matt Harrison 2-0, 1.88 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11 K’s in 14.1 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman 20.25 ERA, 3.38 WHIP, 6 ER in 2.2 IP
Coming home for a week against the Indiands and Mariners, the Rangers went a respectable 4-2, although Joe Nathan‘s first blown save since April kept them from being 5-1. That allowed the still hot A’s to pick up half a game on the week when they went 5-2 against the Angels and Orioles. Los Angeles is still officially in the race, but if Texas were to go .500 the rest of the way, the Angels would have to finish 15-0 just to tie for the Division title. The best the Angels can hope for now would be a Wild Card spot. There’s no doubt if the Rangers are to win the West a third straight time, they will have earned it. Only 16 games remain on the schedule: 3 against the Mariners, 6 against the Angels and 7 against the A’s. This week it’s Los Angeles and Seattle on the road for three games each. After the Rangers series, the Angels host the White Sox for 3 games. Meanwhile the A’s hit the road all week, facing the Tigers and the Yankees. The schedule this week favors the Rangers.
Managers are the fans’ favorite punching bag. When the team’s going bad, they blame the manager. Even when the team’s going good, as the Texas Rangers have been for the past three years, the manager takes the brunt of the blame for any perceived shortcomings.
So how about this? I want to give Wash a lot of credit this morning for the way he was thinking ahead during last night’s win over the Cleveland Indians.
For Rangers fans, the win was nice but it came at a price. Adrian Beltre left the game early with a shoulder injury. He’s scheduled to get an MRI today. His replacement, rookie Mike Olt, hit a single in his second plate appearance, but hobbled so badly to first base because of the Plantar Fascitis he is suffering, he had to be pulled.
With expanded rosters in September, it would have been easy for Wash to either put Brandon Snyder in at third, since he was the utility corner man for the first half of the season, or put Michael Young there and do without the DH the rest of the game. Since it was already the 8th inning, that wouldn’t have posed any significant hardship on Texas.
Instead, Wash went a completely different route. He moved Ian Kinsler over to third base and inserted rookie Jurickson Profar in at second. Judging by the tweets I read, this move had fans collectively scratching their heads. Kinsler had never played any position other than second base in his entire major league career. After the game, Kins said he hadn’t played third since he was in the minors in 2005.
Many didn’t understand the move, but I don’t think a lot of Rangers fans think Ron Washington has the ability to think ahead.
Wash certainly wanted to win last night’s game, but that wasn’t what was most important to him. He has the post-season to think about. And if there’s any possibility he will have to do without Adrian Beltre in the post-season, he has to figure out how he will do that. He’d love to go with Olt, but his balky foot may not allow that. Brandon Snyder is strictly utility. He can’t replace Beltre for more than a couple of games. That leaves Young as the back-up, which is probably what will happen, but Young is also a defensive liability.
So Wash put Kinsler in at third. He didn’t have to field anything in his brief time there, but if he had, Wash would have gotten a good look at it. If he liked what he saw, then Kinsler could be the late inning defensive replacement for Young while Profar takes over at second. That’s a much stronger team than one which features Snyder.
We’ll find out more about Beltre today. Hopefully, he won’t be out for very long. But if he is, Wash already has a potential plan in mind.