Game 162 aftermath: Why it shouldn't have come down to this

Game 162 aftermath: Why it shouldn't have come down to this

Credit: Getty Images

Ron Washington's Rangers put together a very solid 93-win campaign, falling a game short of the AL West crown. If not for obstinance and blind faith, that number would have been higher. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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by JOSEPH URSERY

WFAA Sports

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 8:19 PM

Sports don't follow the 24 hour spoiler rule, right? We're immune from the DVR-it-and-watch-it-the-next-day crowd, yes?

 

In case it isn't, I'll go ahead and say it: SPOILER ALERT. If you read past this and get mad, it's your own fault (and WFAA is completely absolved of all damages you may cause based on the article following, here and forthwith).

 

The Rangers lost the division. They went into Oakland needing to win one out of three games. They failed to do that, so they did not win the division. It's kind of not a big deal, because they'll still be in the post-season... kind of. A loss on Friday would end their season, in fact as well as in symbolism.

 

So, that's about 24 hours we have to vent our spleens.  Oh, and I have plenty of spleen to vent (and, yes, I probably should consult a medical professional about that sometime) right now. But the thing about rage is you have to pick your targets. Aimless anger is misused anger. Anger aimed too wide is wasted. I need a singular target.

 

In one way, this is misguided, as there's a big pie of farm-related animal fecal matter to go around to several players and coaches and officials and security guards and fans and that one guy who tweeted at me to insinuate I don't know how to use stats (I KNOW HOW TO USE STATS)... all of them deserve some share. 

 

So, first, a methodology, to determine the bulls-eye in this bull-dung. This means, yes of course, I will be using stats (hey, you said you wouldn't get mad!) to sharpen my focus. This doesn't exclude the manager, coaches, and executives, neccessarily; they can be attached to a player fairly easily. 

 

As you've probably gotten tired of hearing recently with the Trout vs. Cabrera argument (wherein anti-stat writers are touting a guy... based off his statistical achievement), WAR is not perfect, but it's the best we have. It combines just about everything- hitting, fielding, baserunning, good looks, and positional value. 

 

See, I chose WAR (and fWAR in particular, if you're pedantic about such matters, which I am) because it so singularly sharpens one's focus that I don't really need to explain further why I chose it. One of the great things about fWAR is it goes into the negatives. Batting Average doesn't do that, RBI doesn't do that, Fielding Average doesn't do that. Even if someone hits .160, that says 'Hey, I'm A HUNDRED AND SIXTY points better than zero!", which is kind of warm and welcoming and forgiving. None of that- fWAR looks at that player, sneers, and gives him a -.7 and frostbite.

 

A number of Rangers batters had negative fWARs. Yorvit was -.1, Soto was -.3. Future pieces Leonys Martin and Mike Olt were -.4 and -.5, resepctively; numbers you would expect out of two not-ready-for-prime-time players. All in all, the Rangers gave 453 plate appearances to batters with negative WARs...

... not counting the 651 they gave to Mike Young, who rewarded them with -1.3 fWAR. 

See, this... this is the point in the article where we play the dramatic music.

 

So, no, WAR doesn't correlate 1:1 with wins in the the real world.  Not exactly. But there's a reason stat people love it: it works. Typically, you would expect a team of nothing but replacement-level players to win about 45 games over the course of the season- and, hey, look at the 2012 Houston Astros! They got about 12 WAR worth of offensive performance, and 7 WAR worth of pitching- and won 55 games. The Rangers got 26.5 from their offense, and 24.1 from the pitching, which equals 50.6, which added to 45, get you to 95, which would have been  a great number to end with.

 

So, no, WAR isn't perfect, and it's not a 1:1; but it's as close as we can get right now, and we've put a lot of work into getting it this far. But, in a season that came down to the wire, where one extra win somewhere could have changed everything...

 

... Mike Young contributed negative one point three of those.

 

It's not as simple as pointing to 1.3 and pointing to the 1.0 that will be forever behind this Rangers' team record, because we have every right to expect more than replacement level out of Mike Young. He's paid 16 million dollars; generally, that buys you about a 3-win player. That's a reasonable expectation from Michael Young.

 

And yes, I am saying, without a shadow of a doubt, that if everything else broke the exact same way it did, except Mike Young put up 3 fWAR instead of -1.3, this series owuld have been meaningless, because the team would have clinched here in Arlington at some point in the week before heading over for this series. Of course, you could also see that Mike was third in the team in plate appearances, and come to the conclusion that maybe he shouldn't have had all of those plate appearances when he obviously was being not good at baseball, but that's a different article.

 

This doesn't even get into what's supposed to be Mike Young's biggest strength, the thing that 'numbers can't quantify!', as statistical detractors like to say. Here's something you'll rarely see from me, though; I'm taking the high road on this one.  The low road would be to point out the team's listless look and poorly prepared feel and deduce that a failure in player-level leadership is apparent. But I'm not taking the low road. Not today.

 

The good thing about baseball, and about the performance the team did put up, is they have at least one more shot at redemption, and an October to remember can make me forget the previous six months. While I hope that happens, I... can I just say I want to believe?

 

If you find yourself with a few moments to spare, head over to twitter.com and add @thejoeursery to your follow list. If you don't, do it anyway, it takes like six seconds, gosh!

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