Sure, it is an exercise in futility. The Rangers find themselves 13 games back of the division lead at the end of June, and for the most part, injuries seems to be to blame.
Unfortunately, however, injuries do not explain the entirety of the Rangers’ plight. Losing Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez has certainly taken its toll, but what about the offense? Can a lineup that is only missing one impact bat really point to the injury plague as the primary reason for its struggles?
In order to try to answer the hypothetical “where would this team be without injuries” question, I did some research based on preseason projections and wins-above-replacement, as calculated by FanGraphs. To calculate the missing production, I used three different projection systems used by FanGraphs: Steamer, Oliver & ZiPS. Each of these three projections calculates a projected wins-above-replacement (fWAR) for each player before the beginning of the season, as well as a projection for how many games that particular player is expected to play.
Using this data, we can then put together three different scenarios: the optimistic, the pessimistic and the average, to calculate how many wins the Rangers are missing from these would-be contributors.
In addition to taking into consideration the 3-6 wins that were projected to have come from the key contributors that are currently on the disabled list, we must also consider the contributions made by those who have replaced them.
So, with negligible contributions from the players who replaced Fielder, Holland, Harrison, Perez and crew, FanGraphs’ projections would lead us to believe that the Rangers would only be between 3-6 games better over their first 78 games, which would likely place the club in the Wild Card race with the hated Angels, but not at the top of the division as many had hoped when the year began.
While wins-above-replacement is certainly an inexact science, and preseason projections seemingly being pessimistic concerning the future output of Prince Fielder and Derek Holland, in particular, a look at the expectations and the reality of 2014 may indicate that the organization has a few more issues on top of the current injury epidemic. Issues that, barring a massive change in fortune, will not be realistically addressed until the off-season.