- I’m a sabermetrician (if such thing really exists, because everyone who likes baseball likes stats- the question is which stats one prefers), so I don’t necessarily believe in ‘clutch’ performers. Clutch situations tend to be very few and far between, meaning that actual samples are too small and widely spread to really represent a real skill or talent relating to late and or close games.
However, being a stathead, I can appreciate the simple and complex beauty of WPA, Win Probability Added. This is a stat that simply looks at an event in a game and examines the probability that each team is given to win before and after, assigning a resulting number to the event. Before Elvis came up in the 8th inning of the series closer, the Ranger’s WE (Win Expectancy) was 19.5- there was a 19% chance the Rangers would win. Elvis’ triple changed that to 48.6- a swing of 28%.
Josh Hamilton's homer then drove the Rangers' win expectancy up to 75.4. Turning your chances of winning from remote to near certain in the span of three batters (I’m not forgetting Ian’s walk here); that’s pretty clutch.
- The Rangers just swept a bad team. That’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is the Rangers just swept a team on the road. Another: they swept a team on the road in a place where they had won only once before this series. Another; they swept a team on the road in a stadium where they had only won once -- while starting their #3, #4 and #5 guys.
Another; they swept a team on the road in a stadium they had only ever won once while pitching the back of the rotation against a team that, when play started, had the best player in baseball this year (Josh Willingham led baseball in wRC+, an all-encompassing offensive metric). So, yes, that was a pretty good series.
- Any observer could tell you Yu Darvish has to improve his command. He will. The adjustment he’s making, on the sport's biggest stage, can’t be overstated. And he's fulfilling reasonable expectations, as is, and putting up good enough raw results. But the walks have to come down, and the rate at which batters are hitting liners off of him needs to drop from where it is now (35%!). Again, he will improve.
- It's very, very early in the season, but I could see the Mariners being stouter competition for the AL West than the Angels. AND YOUR TEARS ARE DELICIOUS, ANGELS FANS.
- I told y'all about Robbie Ross. I told y'all.His development (and the development of respect and trust for him from Maddux and Wash) is key for the bullpen, both to save wear and tear on Ogando, Adams, and Nathan as well as for platoon matchups. That, and he leads the Rangers bullpen in walks this year- with one. Rangers relievers have issued one very lonely walk in ten games.
- Second Base prospect Rougned Odoris the youngest player in full-season professional baseball. You'll hear more about him from me, partially because his name is Rougned Odor, and partially because he's a pretty good prospect.
- Until a crazy Kevin Correia outing yesterday, Matt Harrison led the universe in groundball rate (he's a measly 2nd now). Before his second start, an opposing hitter told ESPN's Buster Olney that Harrison had developed a "turbo sinker." This is something else you'll be hearing more from me about as the data develops, but, if you're into spoilers, I'll say this: Wow.