More Harvey relief from Rangers, plus the homer/strikeout quandary. It's the Aug. 30th Daily!

Date: Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Record: 65-66
Opponent: Houston Astros (79-52)
Starters: Andrew Cashner (7-9, 3.44) vs. Dallas Keuchel (11-2, 2.58)

Just to clarify: Today’s game in Tampa / St. Petersburg Florida will feature the team from Dallas/Fort Worth with a guy from Conroe (Houston) on the mound against the team from Houston with the guy named Dallas (from Oklahoma) on the mound. Everyone got it?

Also, before we get into the other baseball stuff…

After announcing yesterday that the Rangers would be donating $1m towards helping with Hurricane Harvey relief, the organization today announced some more details on their “further initiatives”. Here are some of the details, as laid out in a team statement from this afternoon.

  • 10% of the revenue from the sale of tickets for this weekend’s series with the Angels will be donated to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the Greater Houston Community Foundation to assist with relief efforts. This includes all tickets already sold for the three games as well as the additional sales.

  • In addition, 10% of the revenue for all merchandise sold at the Majestic Grand Slam Gift Shop and all park merchandise locations and 10% of the revenue from all concessions items sold at Globe Life Parkfor the three games of the Angels series will be donated to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

  • In addition, the Texas Rangers Foundation will donate the proceeds from its Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle to the American Red Cross for all three games of the Angels series.

  • On Tuesday, the Rangers Ownership, Rangers, and the Rangers Foundation announced that they have pledged at least one million dollars for the Hurricane relief effort in the Houston area and other parts of South Texas and Louisiana.

  • The club is also planning to accept items such as bottled water, diapers, new blankets, and toiletries/hygiene products for the hurricane victims at all three games this weekend. Items for the hurricane donation drive will be collected at the Home Plate, First Base, Third Base, and Center Field gates at Globe Life Park on Friday from 4:00-7:30 p.m.; Saturday from 3:00-6:45 p.m.; and Sunday from 12 noon until 2:30 p.m.

  • The Texas Rangers and FOX Sports Southwest are also making plans to conduct an on-air benefit, in late September, for those affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Previous telethons have benefitted the Shannon Stone Memorial Fund, military initiatives, and tornado relief.  

  • The Rangers and Angels play on Friday, September 1 at 7:05 p.m., Saturday, September 2 at 6:15 p.m., and Sunday, September 3 at 2:05 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at texasrangers.com, by calling 972-RANGERS, and at the Globe Life Park in Arlington first base box office.

I’ll see you this weekend. In the meantime, It’s the August 30th Baseball Texas Daily!

BASEBALL STUFF

1. .500 Team
With a win tonight, the Rangers will climb back to .500... again. The team is 4-4 on this road trip, which wouldn’t be that surprising if you didn’t know any of the details. But we do know the details: the Rangers had just finished a 7-3 homestand, then they went into Anaheim and blasted one of the fifty-six other AL teams vying for a Wild Card spot, winning three out of four. Skip forward, they beat the team with the best record in the ALl by a 12-2 mark. What happened in between? They were swept by the A’s, the third-worst team in the American League.

With this 4-4 mark on the road trip, the team is 22-21 since the All-Star break, which (I’ll spare you the math) means they were 43-45 before the All-Star break. Zoom out to just about any 20-or-more stretch of baseball, and the Rangers are a .500 team.

But a .500 team is one thing (usually that thing is mediocre). The Rangers don't seem to be that. Instead, they seem more like a team that is all peak or all valley with not much in between. .500 isn't so much their record as it is the compromise between their split personalities. 

But baseball doesn't differentiate between the mediocre and the inconsistent. .500 is .500, however you get there. And yet, in this season, with this American League, .500 is enough to be interesting. And Texas is getting Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, and (one would assume) Keone Kela back for the homestretch. They’ll be getting here after September 1st, which means you don’t have to sacrifice the MLB availability of newfound bullpen ace Ricky Rodriguez, or Jose Leclerc, or Austin Bibens-Dirkx.

That health, combined with the recent health of the entire lineup, gives at least a little promise that we'll see more of Dr. Jekyll and less of Mr. Hyde. But it's also possible that the offense itself is a microcosm of the team. Here's what I mean: first, let's look at the...

2. Home Run Offense: Check out the Rangers’ team home run leaders:
Joey Gallo - 35
Mike Napoli - 27
Rougned Odor - 27
Shin-Soo Choo - 17
Elvis Andrus - 16
Adrian Beltre - 16
Nomar Mazara - 16
Carlos Gomez - 15
Robinson Chirinos - 15

Perhaps you’ve noticed: if you rearrange those names in this order:

Shin-Soo Choo - DH
Elvis Andrus - SS
Nomar Mazara - RF
Adrian Beltre - 3B
Joey Gallo - LF
Carlos Gomez - CF
Mike Napoli - 1B
Rougned Odor - 2B
Robinson Chirinos - C

...you have tonight’s lineup. The Rangers, after last night, are tied with the Astros for the most home runs in baseball. So what’s the problem? One might be tempted to take a look at the...

3. Strikeout offense.
Texas is third in the league, trailing just Tampa Bay and Oakland. As we were reminded last weekend, you can still pull off the occasional sweep while being one of those teams, but it doesn’t seem to bode well for long-term success. Strikeouts are a more widely-accepted part of the game these days than they used to be, but a balanced lineup would seem to help, wouldn’t it?

For instance: you can withstand having 178 strikeouts from Aaron Judge and still be a contender. But the Rangers are the only team in baseball with two players in the top ten strikeout leaders list: Joey Gallo at 153, and Mike Napoli at 150. Rougned Odor has 130 more, and Carlos Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo have also each topped 100. Nomar Mazara is next at 99.

That’s five (nearly six) players. By comparison, here are how the other teams in the league stack up:

AL WEST: Astros: 0 players // Angels: 1 // Mariners: 4 // Athletics: 2
AL CENTRAL: Indians: 1 // Twins: 3 // Royals: 3 // Tigers: 2 // White Sox: 2 //
AL EAST: Red Sox: 2 // Yankees: 4 // Orioles: 4 // Rays: 4 // Blue Jays: 3 //
NL EAST: Nationals: 1 // Marlins: 3 // Braves: 0 // Mets: 2 // Phillies: 2 //
NL CENTRAL: Cubs: 3 // Brewers: 5 // Cardinals: 2 // Pirates: 0 // Reds: 3 //

NL WEST: Dodgers: 4 // Diamondbacks: 2 // Rockies: 3 // Padres: 3 // GIants: 1 //

If you don’t want to parse through all of that, I’ll spare you: as soon as Nomar Mazara strikes out again, the Rangers will be the only team in baseball with six players who have struck out 100 or more times. The other team currently with five: the Milwaukee Brewers, who–at 68-64–are currently in second place in the NL Central, 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot (the Rangers are 3.0 out in the AL).

The trick seems to be (at least through the end of August) keeping that number at four or below. Three of the other four teams in the AL with four 100+ strikeout guys are the Yankees, Orioles, and Mariners, all of whom the Rangers are trying to pass in the WIld Card race. The fourth (the Rays) are just a half-game behind Texas.

In the National League, the only team with four is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are on pace to somehow win 400 games in one season.

Of course, it’s never as simple as one easily-counted stat: the Giants (the worst team in baseball) only have one 100-strikeout guy. Apparently there are more ways than one to lose baseball games. For instance...

4. Six passed balls in one game, which is what Geno Petralli did on this day in 1987. Thanks to Stacy Gotsulias, whose work in Sporting News brought this to my attention today. 

NOW LISTENING:

The National has a new song out, called “Day I Die” It’s the newest of what is now a collection of four songs that will eventually be part of a new record titled “Sleep Well, Beast”. I’m sure you’ll get another music rec here when that one comes out. In the meantime, start here, then find the other three: “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”, “Guilty Party”, and “Carin at the Liquor Store
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)

During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail threetwoeephus@gmail.com or a tweet here.

You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!

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