The Truth About the Texas Rangers
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS CLUELESS WHEN IT COMES TO TEXAS RANGERS!
If you're trying to pick winners, it's important that you understand the REALITY that's happening before your eyes.
The mainstream media has big trouble with this in all sports, but PARTICULARLY in Major League Baseball. Even though the math behind ballpark effects was first presented in print back in the 1980's (and had to be understood decades before that since the classic Red Sox teams of the Ted Williams era scored a million runs in Fenway but were much less productive in other parks), we still...RIGHT NOW...IN 2010...have multiple sources unable to differentiate between illusion and reality.
The Texas Rangers have a very nice team this year. Possibly the best team in the AL West if they can avoid wearing down from the summer heat. Probably not the best team in the AL when compared to the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays...but possibly in that neighborhood if the improvements that have been installed in the Nolan Ryan regime hold up.
The deal is...they play their home games in the best hitter's park in the American League. This creates illusions you have to adjust for when trying to evaluate the talent on the team. The hitter's aren't as good as they look. The pitchers aren't as bad. Any pitcher who looks good is doing GREAT. Any hitter who's just okay is actually struggling badly.
The All-Star teams were announced Sunday. That led to a series of reports...from multiple media sources...that basically stated variations the following.
- The "slugging" Rangers placed four hitters on the All-Star team.
- The "slugging" Rangers are leading the AL West because of their great offense.
- You have to put these offensive juggernauts on the team because they're the reason the Rangers are winning.
- If the Rangers could only get some pitching, they might have a chance to be a real threat in the playoffs this year.
Again, MULTIPLE places...TV shows...radio shows...newspaper accounts...blogs... tweets...you name it.
Here's the deal...
The 2010 Texas Rangers are a pitching and defense team that has great overall offensive stats because they play their home games in a hitting paradise. When not in a hitting paradise, they don't have great hitting stats.
HOME HITTING STATS
.299 batting average, .364 on-base percentage, .468 slugging percentage
ROAD HITTING STATS
.256 batting average, .318 on-base percentage, .377 slugging percentage
To give you some context, here are the American League averages in those stats:
.262 batting, .331 on-base percentage, .408 slugging percentage
Put the Texas Rangers in a normal American League ballpark, and they're basically average (noting that other AL teams DO have their stats from Arlington counted in their numbers).
Believe it or not...the Texas Rangers on the road are basically the Baltimore Orioles:
Texas Road: .256, .318, .377
Baltimore: .256, .316, 378
Have you heard anyone talking about the wall-to-wall offense of the pathetic Orioles?
Hey, JOSH HAMILTON is an All-Star, and is having a great year. Note the difference between his Home Stats and Road stats
Hamilton Home: .362, .402, .730
Hamilton Road: .316, .367, .490
Hamilton only has 6 home runs in 38 games on the road. He would still project to being a top quality player with those road numbers. He's not quite the force the media is making him out to be. If you let other AL stars play 81 home games in Arlington, they'd most mind blowing numbers too.
Is VLADIMIR GUERRERO still an All-Star, considering all he does is come out of the dugout to hit in the best hitter's park in the American League?
Guerrero Home: .358, .395, .598
Guerrero Road: .285, .338, .504
Hey, those road numbers aren't bad for his age. Most teams would take that from the DH spot. Just remember that most DH's would hit like Superman playing in Arlington.
Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus also made the team. They deserve to be there because they play defensive positions well, and they have enough pop (even on the road) for their positions. Just remember that DEFENSE is a large part of what they bring to the table. Nobody would be saying "he hits GREAT for a second baseman" if he played for another team. Kinsler's road slugging percentage is a paltry .361!
Texas has always had hitting. And, frankly, has had much scarier batting orders. What's different this year is pitching and defense.
- Texas ranks 4th in the league in defensive efficiency, which is the percentage of balls in play turned into outs. Instead of having slow-footed sluggers playing all over the diamond, losing home games 8-6 because they can't field their positions...the team is now winning home games 6-4 because they've got some gloves.
- Colby Lewis has a 3.35 ERA and a WHIP of 1.11 even though he has to pitch his home games in Arlington. His K-Rate is an excellent 8.3 per 9 innings. Put him in another city, and he's a shoe-in for the All-Star team. He didn't make it.
- C.J. Wilson has a 3.34 ERA and a WHIP of 1.26 even though he has to pitch his home games in Arlington. Put him in another city, and he's also got a very good case, though his K-Rate isn't as high as that of Lewis.
- The staff as a whole had an ERA under 4.00 heading into Tuesday Night's game vs. Cleveland. That should be almost IMPOSSIBLE playing half their games in Arlington.
Let's note that relief ace Neftali Feliz did make the All-Star team. The league generally takes the ace relievers from successful teams because they rack up the saves. Feliz is having a good year, but is racking up the saves because the overall team is so much better suited to play WINNING baseball than it has been under past management teams.
Credit Nolan Ryan for building a winner. Remind yourself once again that the mainstream media is full of people who pay "half" attention and try to bluff the rest. Texas is a pitching and defense team first, with an offense that creates the illusion of extreme potency because of their home ballpark. Keep Vlad in perspective, and give those young pitchers their due!
Understanding the Rangers is GOING TO MATTER through the rest of July, down the stretch, possibly in a playoff race if the team can stand the heat, and maybe in the American League playoffs. Will the 2010 Rangers be a new version of the 2008 Rays that go all the way to the World Series? There was certainly a lot of skepticism about the 2008 Rays full season potential at the All-Star Break of that season, wasn't there? They were too young to win the AL East. They were too young to perform in the playoffs. YEAH, RIGHT!
JIM HURLEY'S having another big year in baseball because he understands the nuances of stat handicapping. You've been reading that for yourself right here at the website for many years. Oddsmakers and the public spend too much time listening to ESPN. Thanks, we appreciate it!
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