- One of the major criticisms of sabermetrics is that they take away the emotion of baseball. One on hand, that's true, because sometimes emotions are dumb and it's sabermetrics' job to be smart. But an even better response to that is that Fangraphs.com has found a way to not only put the emotions of a game into numbers, but easy-to-read charts that display the ups and downs of a game very, very well. Consider this, the WPA chart from last week's 4-2 win over Oakland. (Refer to the above image).
Doesn't that green line pretty well correspond to how your emotions went over the course of that game?(Also, if you do click on the WPA link above, don't click on the 'Win Expectancy' link on that page. Just trust me on this one. They use an example of a chart like above from a game that is still traumatic to us.)
- You'll notice the massive spike on Craig Gentry's triple. Gentry had one AB (2 plate appearances, but someone sometime decided that walks and HBP aren't important, so we don't count them as at-bats) and one hit, with Win Percentage Added of .598. Matt Harrison pitched 8 innings, allowing 2 runs, and had a WPA of .201. So that was a pretty big hit, is what I am saying.
- Anyone feeling up to arguing my point last week that Kevin Youkilis is simply a far better player than Micheal Young? In fact, other than playing second base, can anyone point out anything Micheal Young actually does that's better than Kevin Youkilis?
- Not for nothing, but Young is 3-27 over the last 7 games. Ron Washington has done the unthinkable and (gasp) moved him to 6th in the batting order, a very small step, but one nonetheless.
- Matt Harrison is sixth among AL pitchers in fWAR, fourth in innings pitched, seventh in ERA, and ninth in FIP. What's really exciting, though, is he's 9th in groundball percentage and twenty-third in BABiP. An inordinantly low BABiP tends to mean that regression is coming, and it's not coming in a nice way (consider Scott Feldman's 2009, in which he won 17 games and the contract he's under right now; his BABiP was .273. This year, it's .313).
- For lack of a better term, you can call it luck. Of course pitchers hold some amount of control over their BABiP (which normally correlates pretty well to their groundball percentage), but there are too many other factors that go into it to assume the control they have is complete. Harrison doing what he's done this year (and the last half of last year, you'll note) with a solid BABiP against is a very good sign.
- Roy Oswalt's BABiP this year is 500; which means that half of all balls put in play against him have turned into hits (for reference's sake, the average BABIP is around .290). Partially this is of his own doing (he's allowed 28% line drives, which is a sign of hitters getting pitches to smash off him), but he also strik-es out 18% of all batters he faces and walks only 4.6%; those aren't signs of a pitcher who's overmatched.
For now, that hit total seems fluky. Outside of the insane amount of hits (and the bad amount of home runs, but 2 of the 3 he's allowed came in the first inning of Tuesday's game, so I'm willing to look at those as fluky as well) Oswalt's been solid enough as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater, which is all he should be as the rotation returns to health.
- Trade chatter is starting to ramp up, and will only do so more until either A: the Rangers make a big trade, or B: July 31st, whichever comes first. While I'd like to see a few small pieces (mainly a better righthanded bench bat than Brandon Snyder, maybe a true lefty specialist for the bullpen. And also Jim Thome) added, there just are not that many holes to fill on this team. Also consider how many teams in baseball will add more talent to their active rosters over the next three weeks than the Rangers will, simply in getting Feliz, Ogando, Holland, Lewis, Uehara, Lowe, and Moreland back healthy.
- If you haven't really, really been following the minor leagues, you might be missing something special in Arizona. The Rangers' complex league team in Surprise has had some very, very exciting developments. I'll skip over the stats, because the complex league is as low-level as minor leagues get in America (which is going to make the stats mean far, far less than the scouting side of the equation), but the performances of this year's draft crop is near-shocking.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement has some terrible, terrible clauses in it regarding spending caps on draft picks and Latin American amatuers, but one solid thing it has going for it is that the deadline for draft picks to sign contracts was moved up, from late August to mid-July. For various reasons, deals tend to take the maximum amount of time to get done; this is bad, because instead of spending that time to develop, the player is just sitting at home.
With the new date, and the new guidelines, the Rangers were able to sign Lewis Brinson, Joey Gallo, and Nick Williams all very quickly, and have them working, playing, and developing.
- There's a very good, very tangible reason this is exciting for the near-term future; your favorite (and mine), Robbie Ross. Ross was drafted out of high school in 2008, but didn't sign until the August deadline and missed out on the 2008 minor league season of development; yet, here he is in 2012, third in the AL in fWAR for left-handed relievers. The Rangers scout and draft great talent, and the development system in the minors they have is excellent; getting these young guys in earlier could accelerate (and accentuate) their growth exponentially.