Joseph's Rangers thoughts: The D'Backs series (6/15)

Joseph's Rangers thoughts: The D'Backs series (6/15)

Credit: Getty Images

Craig Gentry has been a major bright spot for the 2012 Rangers (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images).



WFAA Sports Blogger

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 4:28 PM

  • Game 2 of this series might be my favorite Rangers game so far this year, despite the anemic showing by the offense.  Several reasons- Matt Harrison pitching well despite having an excuse not to (something he hasn't been known for in the past). Mike Napoli working the leadoff walk that eventually scored the winning (only) run. Craig Gentry hitting the ball just hard enough to get past Roberts at third -- and being just fast enough to likely cause Roberts to rush just enough that the ball got past him -- which scored Napoli. Also factoring in: and the fantastic performance by the two key bullpen components, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.
  • Once again, Adams entered a tougher situation than Nathan, coming into the game with the score tied at zero and Wee Willie Bloomquist standing on second as the go-ahead run with one out. Nathan entered into a clean frame, with a one-run lead and the 4-5-6 hitters due up.  

    pLI, a Fangraphs stat used to measure the leverage of a situation, gifted Adams 2.59 for his performance in getting two outs, and Nathan 2.32 for getting his three. pLI doesn't have a lot of real uses, but it's a fun stat for measuring something that had generally been left up to the narrative, rather than the quantitative.
  • Speaking of Craig Gentry, the year he's had thus far is fantastic.  Fangraphs has him at 1.8 Wins Above Replacement, which would be good for sixth in baseball among centerfielders. There's an issue with that, though, and it has very little to do with Craig himself. fWAR, as you know (or will know in, like, one half-sentence) derives the final number (what we actually call fWAR) from addition of several components-- BSR (baserunning), batting, fielding, and positional value.

    Those add up into RAR (Runs Above Replacement), which is then divided and repackaged as WAR. Gentry's RAR is 16.8, and 7.9 of those runs come from his defensive contributions; which are fantastic, don't get me wrong (I've said several times that Gentry may be the defensive center fielder I've ever seen). But it's well known among SABR types that modern defensive metrics are still flawed.

    They're the best we have, and they're far better than errors or the eye test as a measure of defense (far, far better), but they're still just a little bit weird. That's ok, because they're getting better; they're just years behind where we are in regards to offensive metrics. 

    So, take Gentry's fWAR rankings with a bit more of a grain of salt that you would normally. You can take his .407 OBP to the bank, though, because that's money.
  • Matt Cain has this season's two highest Game Scores, with his perfect 101 taking the lead over his one-hitter 96 from April 13th. If you look at that leaderboard (that's the one linked to on "Matt Cain", not the one on "Game Score"), you'll notice the best non-Matt Cain/non-perfecto Game Score this year was by former Ranger great RA Dickey, thrown this Thursday (it turns out Thursday was a pretty good day for pitching.) Dickey is one of the guys I'll always cheer for, regardless of the laundry he's wearing. His success this season may be the best story in the majors.
  • Want to get the story on this Justin Grimm guy for the water cooler today? Check out what I wrote Thursday, handicapping the field before Grimm was tapped. Then you can tell your friends that the smart baseball analysts were thinking Martin Perez.
  • For a reader's digest version, Grimm is a big righthander, throws a mid-to-upper 90's four-seamer, has a good curveball, and has taken a huge step forward with his changeup as at least an average pitch this year. He also has a two-seam fastball that probably won't be used in game action, but will help round out his arsenal when it's ready. He's got good control, and he gets groundballs at a good clip. The Gin Blossoms Mantra applies (If you don't expect too much from him, you might not be let down) but he's a very good prospect and a good choice to take the spot start.
  • Elvis Andrus leads the American League in triples right now.  Last season, he hit 35 XBH in 587 At-Bats. This year, he's hit 21 in 247 -- on pace to nearly double the number of extra base hits this season compared to last.
  • Meanwhile, shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar has hit 29 XBH in 250 at-bats- and he's the only AA player born in 1993. Only three other AA players were even born in 1992.  And exactly zero players currently in High-A were born in 1993. Which means that the youngest player between Low-A and AA, who plays a defensive premium position, is tearing his league apart. However excited you are about Profar, get more excited, because no one is excited enough.
  • I sure do like playing NL teams a lot more when pitchers don't have to bat, you guys. Pitchers hitting is just the worst.
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