- I hate to start one of these off with an old blogger meme, but here's two mystery players, by statlines.
Player A: 267/321/326, 647 OPS, 83 OPS+, 92 wRC+
Player B: 284/310/375, 685 OPS, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+
Looking at those lines, you might like player A because he gets on base more, and guess that since his OPS+ is higher despite his OPS being slightly lower, he played in a slightly weaker run-scoring environment. You might like player B because the jump in power is probably enough to overcome the difference in on-base percentage, but then look at the context-nuetral stats and wonder if his home ballpark wasn't inflating things a bit.
So, if you chose player B, you have the Rangers' primary designated hitter, Michael Young, who is being paid 16 million dollars this year to hit the ball, primarily.
If you chose player B, you have David Eckstein's career line. Eckstein was a shortstop who had a ten-year career based off of trying really hard, saying nice things to reporters, being a good guy, and internet sports writers' jokes about him being terrible at hitting. If your DH is hitting like a shortstop who is the gold standard for shortstops who are bad at hitting, that is very likely a problem.
- The Rangers scored eight runs in this four game series. They were blown out twice. The A's are a bad team and sent out only one really good starting pitcher this series. While the Rangers still hold the best record in the AL (a fact that shouldn't be lost) the longer this malaise hangs around, the less likely of a proposition that is to continue.
- The Rangers still have the best run differential in baseball, at +64. The Cardinals are next at +60. Look at the large picture, and this team is still the most talented top-to-bottom in baseball. It's the smaller picture that's bad, but looking at small pictures in baseball is like treating David Eckstein like a good baseball player; a sure way to get smart people laughing at you.
- The one game the Rangers did win in the Oakland series, game 3, still had the distinction of being massively frustrating. In the top half of the ninth, Craig Gentry led off with a double. This led the Rangers, up 5-3 at the time, to a run expectancy of roughly 1.170 (using data from 1993-2010) for the inning- which means that there was a very, very good chance Craig Gentry would score. Given that Gentry can score from second on a slow grounder to short, and the Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Josh Hamilton were due up, that chance was near-certain.
So, naturally, Craig tried to steal third, which would have moved the Run Expectancy to 1.4 if he would have succeeded. He didn't. And naturally, Ian Kinsler then hit a single that would have scored Gentry from second, easily.
The lost run in all that was annoying, yes, due to it being a lost run. What makes it so massively annoying is Rangers7. For the unititiated, whenever the Rangers score seven runs in a ballgame, a certain pizza chain offers a certain discount on their goods using the code Rangers7 (you can google that for the specifics, which WFAA probably shouldn't be going out of their way to promote). That ill-advised Gentry steal attempt cost me half price pizza, and for that I am mad.
- I really, really want a Yeonis Cespedes here on the Rangers. And no, Leonys Martin and/or Jorge Soler; they just don't display the core strength that Cespedes does. (Video link is likely NSFW for language in lyrics in background music, and for a roasting pig.). For a breakdown of the madness and the story behind that video, check out Kevin Goldstein's wrapup of it (probably NSFW due to Goldsten content).
- It seems that I was wrong in sounding the alarms regarding the state of the rotation; in that I should I have been yelling them at you from the parking lot of every Dariy Queen in the DFW area instead of quietly suggesting there were storms afoot. When Alexi Ogando starts his first game, the Rangers will have matched the number of starters they used last season. When Roy Oswalt starts his, the Rangers will exceed it.
Ogando is an incredible baseball talent, but to expect even five innings from him is probaby too much. Getting five innings out of a starter before wasn't too much of a problem, because you could use Ogando for the sixth and seventh, rest easy knowing those six outs would likely be drama and score free, then go to Adams/Nathan for the rest. Now, that incredible bullpen weapon is gone (although Koji Uehara and Robbie Ross can likely recreate a reasonable facsimile of it, and Tanner Scheppers is the closest thing to Ogando the Rangers have in the system now), the team still doesn't have an innings-eater long relief option, and the rotation contains another big mystery.
Oh, and NL rules baseball is coming up, where Ron Washington is going to have a huge temptation to pull his pitcher every two to three innings, when they have to bat. So, don't be shocked if the malaise continues, for a little while longer.