A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Rangers pitching staff’s performance , as we tried to establish “what was the real problem in 2004”. The reason was that various media types were giving various reasons about what was the ultimate downfall of the Rangers. It was my opinion that it was too simplistic to say it was all the pitching staff’s fault (see part 1), or that it was the bat’s fault. The fact is, there is a bit of truth to both theories.
But, let us investigate the performance of the Rangers’ bats in 2004, because they were not without fault. First, check the American Ranks for the Rangers’ bats for the last 7 years. As you can pretty plainly see, this is no longer a team that destroys pitching like it could a few years back. A team that once finished in the top 3 or 4 in the American League, now finishes in the bottom 3rd of the AL in both batting average and on-base percentage.
Year Avg/OBP/Slug AL Ranks
The Rangers finished ahead of 3 teams in the American League in 2004 in OBP. Only Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Toronto had more trouble getting on base than the Rangers. This is particularly alarming because the Rangers bats are offered this huge ballpark advantage that serves as a huge disadvantage to the pitching staff. 81 games a year are played in the most offensive ballpark aside from Coors Field in Denver.
In fact, in the 81 games played away from the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers finished dead last in Average (.246), last in OBP (.309), and Hits (699). Somehow, their power was still present on the road as they hit the 5th most road home runs, and finished 8th in slugging on the road. But, they struggled on the road because they never could get runners on the base paths.
On the road, they scored 4.55 runs per game, while at home, they scored 6.06 runs per game.
In fact, take a look at some of the splits for the big bats the Rangers employ:
Home: 16 HR, 63 RBI, .311 avg, .386 OBP
Away: 16 HR, 47 RBI, .239 avg, .323 OBP
Home: 9 HR, 57 RBI, .346 avg, .386 OBP
Away: 13 HR, 42 RBI, .280 avg, .320 OBP
Home: 14 HR, 33 RBI, .299 avg, .365 OBP
Away: 12 HR, 38 RBI, .256 avg, .299 OBP
Home: 12 HR, 47 RBI, .317 avg, .360 OBP
Away: 16 HR, 44 RBI, .244 avg, .291 OBP
Home: 18 HR, 64 RBI, .298 avg, .397 OBP
Away: 20 HR, 48 RBI, .264 avg, .343 OBP
As you can see, the HR numbers show almost no difference home vs. road. But the average and the OBP have substantial differences when the Rangers are on the road. The Home Runs and extra base hits do not drive in runs because no one is on base.
So which is the Real Rangers line-up? How can they score with the best at home, and score with the worst on the road? In the past, the Rangers bashed the ball very well on the road. But, in the last 2 years, it has dried up. Is it possible that the young hitters have not learned to show the patience that the old cast with Pudge, Juan, and Raffy did?
One other thought, given the lack-luster performance of the Rangers’ bats, why exactly was there such panic when Rudy Jaramillo was flirting around with other teams? The Rangers lack of patience at the plate, and the reluctance to work counts and draw walks generally reflects on a hitting coach. Except here. I am sure Rudy is great at what he does, but I have always wondered why no one ever questions his ability to preach the plate discipline to his troops.
I might suggest one place to start is to find someone to leadoff that is not allergic to walks. Soriano’s OBP of .291 on the road hardly qualifies him to be in the line-up at all, let alone to lead-off.
Anyway, as I said, to blame the pitching staff is to give the hitters a free pass (which they obviously don’t like given their lack of walks). Conversely, the hitters should not receive blame when you consider that the starting staff pitched fewer innings than anyone. Bottom line again, both departments needed reinforcements this winter, and neither really received them.
Dirk Dominates in Boston …
As we wrote the other day, Marquis Daniels appears to be the odd man out …
The odd man out as the rotation evolves could be Marquis Daniels. With Josh Howard, Michael Finley and Jerry Stackhouse the first three options at small forward and shooting guard, Daniels' opportunities could be limited, although coach Avery Johnson said Daniels will play.
"But I don't have 40 minutes for four guys," he said. "It's a great problem. Where you got a problem is when you're down in my hometown."
That would be New Orleans, which is talent shy. The Mavericks have plenty of players, just not enough minutes.
Galloway on the pitching situation …As the Rangers break camp…
Big feature on Big Tex …
Rangers trade for Matt Riley, in what seems to be a worthy idea. Although his track record and his price suggest we should not hold our breath on his future… The Baltimore Sun summary of Matt Riley’s stay in their city …
Riley was disciplined by the club in 2000 after a spring training arrest for disorderly conduct outside a Fort Lauderdale nightclub. He also stirred up controversy in spring training 2003 for removing a bottle of Xenadrine, an ephedra-based drug, from Steve Bechler's locker and throwing it in the trash after the pitcher collapsed during a workout and later died of heatstroke.
The Timing is interesting on this story, given what I wrote above about Jaramillo: DeRosa cracks on Rudy ...
Utility infield candidate Mark DeRosa , who has an out in his contract that expires tonight, had not heard yet on his roster status even though he is expected to make the team. DeRosa, who snapped an 0-for-18 slump with two hits Tuesday, said he is satisfied with the health of his right knee after playing in three straight games before Wednesday.
DeRosa also said the swing adjustments he has made with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo are more to blame for his hitting woes.
I cannot imagine that is a good idea for DeRosa. Sometimes you need to edit yourself for the sake of your job.
Solid story on Hank the Tank ...
USA 2, Guatemala 0 …And Eddie Johnson scores a beauty…
Although he may have a future in Europe, Johnson still plays in Dallas. And Donovan is leaving Bayer Leverkusen, for which he has faltered twice, to come home to M.L.S., presumably to Los Angeles.
Many of the United States players have some soccer in their family history, but Johnson, from rural Florida, came to understand the world's favorite game while traveling overseas for a junior tournament, at 16.
Johnson showed his quick mind and quick feet on Sunday in the forbidding conditions of Azteca. With the United States down by two goals, Donovan served Johnson a long ball on the right side.
In this situation, most players - even the wise old ones - panic and unload a screamer, just to show their moxie. Instead, Johnson flicked the softest little pass to the left, to Donovan, who distributed the ball leftward to the left-footed Eddie Lewis, who banged it home.
Johnson finished Sunday's game looking like a man who had been on the grill 15 minutes too long.
"It took a lot out of me," he said Tuesday in the generous air of Alabama. "That was a great test for me. It showed me where I need to be. You take the bad out of a game like that as well as the good."
Baseball Prospectus on Matt Riley …
Amazing Race episode recap …And despite some level of sorry-ness, I still cheer for Rob and Amber…
Carlos Ruiz joins FC Dallas …
D Magazine features Chris Young …
Mort features super freak Matt Jones …
Footballresearch.com on Bud Grant …
Aggies Rap …