Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baseball Content: It's Not A Marathon, It's A Roller Coaster

The sports cliche is that every season "is not a sprint, it's a marathon". I don't think that describes the 2009 Texas Rangers - this season has been and seems that it will continue to be a roller coaster ride. Careening between the highs - sweeping the Angels - the lows being swept by the Tigers - back up again - sweeping the Astro's leaving us all a little worn out in the process. My guess is that nothing is going level out during the upcoming homestand. The Yankees have had a pretty impressive string of victories the past two weeks, which will certainly be another test for this Ranger team, meanwhile the A's are struggling - Texas has the opportunity to take advantage of that - let's see if they can. Meanwhile: fasten your safety belt, and take a dose of Dramamine, the next ride is about to begin.

The Coors Field of the AL East? Pundits love to call the Ballpark in Arlington a "launching pad" - rightfully so in the past. However, has anyone noticed the offensive explosions that have taken place at the new Yankee Stadium? Take a look at these stats:
  • 22 games at new Yankee Stadium: 86 Home Runs - with an overall .278 BA for games played at the stadium.
Compare that to the Ballpark in Arlington:
  • 20 games: 60 Home Runs - with an overall .283 BA for games played at the stadium.
That's barely a .005 difference in BA, but a whopping 26 HR difference, but I haven't read much about the Yankee Stadium launching pad.

More numbers: These are the kind of numbers I love reading:
  • Pitching: the Rangers are #8 in the AL - with a 4.52 ERA (by the way that's slightly better than the league average 4.58 ERA) .

  • Defense: the Rangers are #3 in AL Fielding Percentage at .986 and tied for 4th place for fewest errors with 22.
Why is everyone surprised? There's been much bandwith filled with laments and ruminations on Chris Davis's strikeouts. I hate to tell you folks - this is not news. Anyone who watched Chris in the minor leagues knew that he had a high K rate (288 in 1,045 minor league AB's). But he's also never hit less than 20 HR's in a full minor league season (and had 15 HR's at Short-Season Spokane in 2006). I keep reading all kinds of praise (especially from revisionist Ranger fans) for former Ranger prospect Carlos Pena who has a ML career BA of just .251 but has also hit 178 HR's in 2,821 AB's during his major league career. So, what is the difference? Davis is a power threat (like Pena) hasn't hit for average, so far (like Pena) and I daresay plays as well defensively as Pena. Yes, Chris does need to take a few more walks, but he's still on the learning curve folks - he's 23 years old and hasn't even had a full season worth of AB's which is about 575-600 - Davis has 483 over two seasons. Just like Chris, we need to show a little patience.

Am I surprised? Derek Holland: "Good things happen, bad things happen" (see blog entry of April 19) Brandon McCarthy: my impulse is to invoke that lovely Texas colloquialism about a blind squirrel, however, I'm going to show some restraint. Nice game on Sunday, let's see some more of that before I change my mind.

Minor Details: Our pal Blake Beaven had one bad start on May 2nd - but since then has been performing well in the hitter happy California League (29 IP - 2.17 ERA) ... another of our favorites OF Steve Murphy has finally been promoted to OKC - giving us a reason for a drive up I-35 very soon...I've seen Pedro Stop pitch a couple of times, his stuff is impressive, but unfortunately like Nuke LaLoosh - he has no idea where it is going, or least that's what I've seen which makes me wonder why some thought he might make the Rangers bullpen out of Spring Training - right now he can barely get AA hitters out...has anyone noticed LHP Yoo-Hee Nam's 30 K's in 28 1/3 IP? And the consistency too (0.96 ERA in April, and 0.95 ERA in May).

Finally: I don't have a particularly good feeling about the Yankee/Rangers series, surprisingly because of the Rangers offense - it's been inconsistent over the past week - and I do believe the Yankees pitchers are slightly better (tongue in cheek) than the Astro's - if the Rangers can win 1 out of 3 I'll be satisfied. On the other hand I'm very hopeful about the four games with the A's - their offense has been anemic of late and they just aren't playing all that well right now - they are dead last in the AL with a .242 team BA and are 8-15 for the month of May. I'll go out on a limb and say the Rangers sweep the A's.

With fond memories of those roller coaster rides at Cedar Point -- Marla Hooch

No comments: