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Death by numbers: The Texas Rangers offense

Death by numbers: The Texas Rangers offense

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Rangers' offense has been a team effort. This has very little to do with sacrifice bunts, but a LOT to do with solid play from every position.

by OR MOYAL

WFAA

Posted on August 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 22 at 12:30 AM

The 2010 Rangers were carried through the regular season and propelled to the playoffs by the peerless play of MVP Josh Hamilton. 

The 2011 Rangers are well on their way to having an even better year, but have managed it despite no true superstar performance during the season’s first four-and-a-half months. How, then, has the Rangers’ squad graded out as elite on an overall basis?

Ron Washington’s squad has been built with a strict no-albatross policy.

Last week, we talked about how solid the Rangers were across the board; how no team but Boston could rival their balance. But while Boston has benefited from the transcendent play of three superstars (Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury), the Rangers haven’t had that benefit.

Texas has certainly been buoyed by the play of Ian Kinsler (a primo player if you’re a believer in defensive numbers and the value of on-base percentage) and Michael Young (posting perhaps the best offensive season of his career).

But for the most part, this season’s theme has been “Keep the Car Running.” The lineup is solid enough across the board that in a run-scoring situation, there’s no chance for opposing pitchers to relax; no way to intentionally walk a hitter and maintain a clear conscience. 

Here's a look at how Rangers position players have fared and how they compare to the average across baseball. Split OPS+ is a handy way to extrapolate OPS; anything above 100 is superior to the league average, while double-digits are below the MLB baseline. Single digits are Vernon Wells.

 

 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Catcher .286 .338 .458 .796 126
Average MLB Catcher .244 .315 .384 .698

 

 

 

Yorvit Torrealba, Proffesional Line Drive Machine™ has done his job capably. But Mike Napoli has been a revelation. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify at the position, Napoli's 1.030 OPS and .418 Weighted On-Base Average would easily outstrip any other catcher. That the Ranger backstops have accomplished this while guiding a young pitching staff to a solid season is one of the biggest reasons the team has reached its current standing.

 


Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger First Baseman .281 .342 .449 .791 99
Average MLB First Baseman .271 .344 .449 .793

 

 

 

It's possible to make the case this is the largest chink in the Rangers' proverbial armor. Butconsidering that a list of recent employees includes Chris Shelton, Chris Davis, Ben Broussard and Jorge Cantu... Mitch Moreland, Michael Young and Mike Napoli have provided a breath of fresh air.

 

 
Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Second Baseman .265 .351 .456 .807 128
Average MLB Second Baseman .259 .319 .385 .704

 

 

 

Ian Kinsler has caught a lot of flak this year, mostly due to a high flyball rate which seems to frustrate many pundits and fans with different perceptions of what a leadoff hitter should do. But Kinsler's sported a fantastic walk rate, almost never strikes out and put together his third 20-20 season while playing brilliant defense and flashing a high level of skill on the bases. He may be frustrating. His body language may not be the best. But in his first fully healthy season (knock on wood) Kinsler has remained one of the team's best players. Michael Young and Andres Blanco have filled in capably during his days off. 

 

 
Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Shortstop .263 .320 .333 .653 90
Average MLB Shortstop .260 .314 .374 .688

 

 

 

Elvis Andrus is no offensive star. But he's solid enough with the bat in his hands to keep in the lineup, where his defense and baserunning add their magic to the Rangers' overall recipe for success. Andres Blanco's .200/.245/.320 line in limited time has dragged down the overall numbers.

 

 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Third Baseman

.301

.338

.483

.822

135

Average MLB Third Baseman

.248

.312

.379

.692

 

 

 

The Rangers have boasted two third-basemen with very different defensive profiles. Adrian Beltre is a wizard with turbo range at the corner, while Michael Young never profiled as a third baseman. But both have been excellent offensive contributors at one of the most offensively-challenged positions in baseball. The Texas Third-baggers have provided a ton of value throughout the season.

 
 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Left Fielder

.276

.327

.427

.753

.108

Average MLB Left Fielder

.255

.320

.403

.723

 

 

 

The position's a far cry from where it was in 2010, when Josh Hamilton and David Murphy combined for downright frightening .336/.393/.595 line there.But even during dual down years, the two (and occasionally Nelson Cruz) have been better than the average LF. This speaks to offense being down, but it also shows that this team still maintains a fair bit of upside going forward. At some point, Hamilton and Murphy will start hitting like we've all seen they can.

 

 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Center Fielder

.274

.321

.422

.743

100

Average MLB Center Fielder

.265

.327

.413

.740

 

 

 

Julio Borbon: Out for the year. Josh Hamilton: Too fragile. Leonys Martin: Not quite ready yet. The Rangers reached into the bottom of their barrell for CF options and somehow picked up two pretty nice players. Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez have held their own at the plate and played great defense up the middle on days when Hamilton hasn't manned the position. It's nice to have reliable stopgaps.

  

 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Right Fielder

.286

.347

.547

.897

127

Average MLB Right Fielder

.267

.339

.437

.776

 

 

 

Nelson Cruz, Mitch Moreland and Endy Chavez have combined to make Right Field an offensive mainstay. Six different players have shuffled through the position, though it's clear Cruz is the regular starter. Defense at the corner has been an issue, as Cruz and Moreland have struggled with covering the necessary ground. 

  

 

Stat

Batting

Average

On-base

Percentage

Slugging

Percentage

 

OPS (On-base plus

Slugging Percentage)

 

Split OPS+

Average Ranger Designated Hitter

.285

.348

.488

.836

109

Average AL Designated Hitter

.265

.342

.424

.766

 

 

 

Contrary to popular belief, Michael Young has not been the Rangers' best DH this year. He's actually hit better while playing the field. Meanwhile, Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre have all raked while spending half of the game on the bench. That's not to say this will be the theme going forward; it may be a total outlier (Over Young's career, his best hitting has come as a DH.) But fans should be very satisfied with the play of Rangers Designated Hitters. 

  

 

Clearly, the Rangers' balance has played a huge part in their dominant play over the course of the season. If role players like Torrealba and Chavez can stay afloat and average starters like Moreland and Andrus can hold their own, the team will be fine. There's too much talent elsewhere for it not to be. 

 

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