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October 31, 2006

Reviewing the Ranger Lineup: #3 Hitters

Check here for stat descriptions.

Texas #3 Hitters:

Player
% of Team PA
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
R
HR
RBI
BB
SO
Net SB
M Teixeira
64%
.844
101
.358
100
.486
101
62
18
70
52
84
0
C Lee
17%
.861
104
.357
100
.504
105
24
3
15
8
12
3
M Young
17%
.725
73
.310
87
.415
86
13
3
18
9
22
1
The Rest
1%
1.500
247
.500
139
1.000
207
1
1
2
0
1
0
TEAM
-
.832
98
.351
98
.481
100
100
25
105
69
119
4
AL Average*
-
.840
-
.358
-
.482
-
101
27
103
72
118
6
Team Rank in AL
-
-
7
-
7
-
7
6
6
5
8
6
9

Through June 22nd, Mark Teixeira never left the third spot in the order. After that day’s game, he had six homers and a .425 slugging percentage. Buck Showalter dropped him to fourth, where he soon returned to his expected brilliance. He switched back to third in late August with no ill effects.

As I mentioned in a June 10th column, Teixeira inexplicably flailed against pitchers he faced for the first time in a game. That trend manifested itself even more strongly in the first inning. At the All-Star break, Teixeira batted .243/.317/.284 in the first inning, including no homers and exactly three runs batted in in 82 plate appearances. He did improve in the second half (an odd line of .250/.451/.444: nine hits and twelve walks) but still was nothing special. For the season, he hit .245/.368/.336 in the first and .290/.372/.552 in subsequent innings. He showed more patience in the first (0.35 more pitches per appearance and a 50% higher walk rate) but no power (a David Ecksteinian .091 ISO, two homers in 133 appearances).

Should Showalter have batted him seventh, or started Nevin or Stairs at first and substituted Teixeira in the second inning? Probably overkill. Teixeira had never exhibited this problem in previous years and most likely will return to normal in 2007. That said, it’s an issue worth watching.

Carlos Lee quietly performed to expectations with his bat but probably played his way out of a long-term contract with his passive defense and occasionally cavalier attitude. The Rangers gained no ground on Oakland or even themselves after his acquisition (51-52 pre-trade, 29-30 post).

Relative to his time in the #2 hole, Michael Young struggled while batting third during late June and most of July. It’s only coincidence; he’d often hit third in the past with no loss of performance.

American League #3 Hitters:

TEAM
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
R
HR
RBI
Boston
1.010
142
.404
113
.607
129
124
55
142
Chicago Sox
.976
131
.403
112
.573
119
136
44
123
Minnesota
.914
126
.423
121
.491
106
100
13
101
NY Yankees
.884
115
.393
111
.491
104
115
29
123
Toronto
.882
108
.355
100
.527
108
97
32
109
Cleveland
.820
102
.359
102
.461
100
108
29
104
Texas
.832
98
.351
98
.481
100
100
25
105
Baltimore
.781
89
.344
96
.437
93
103
22
93
Tampa Bay
.777
87
.332
93
.445
94
86
25
99
Kansas City
.779
86
.355
97
.425
89
91
15
91
LA Angels
.758
84
.319
90
.439
95
85
24
89
Seattle
.750
84
.319
90
.431
94
88
21
92
Oakland
.730
79
.331
94
.398
85
86
20
82
Detroit
.715
74
.304
85
.411
89
92
19
86

Best #3 hitting: David Ortiz. No commentary needed.

Worst #3 hitting: NLCS foes Detroit and Oakland anchor the list, proving that titles are won with productive outs, not power. Anyway, Ivan Rodriguez drew over half of his team’s #3 at-bats and showed he no longer belongs in the top half of the order even when batting .300. He, Dmitri Young, Marcus Thames, Craig Monroe and Sean Casey combined for a paltry 19 homers and 31 walks. The rest of the league averaged 27 homers and 76 walks. Oakland’s Milton Bradley handled the spot well but his teammates (mostly Chavez, Kotsay, Crosby[?]) hit .233 and slugged .346.

Posted by Lucas at 09:29 AM

October 27, 2006

Reviewing the Ranger Lineup: #2 Hitters

Check here for stat descriptions. Forgot to mention that "Net SB" equals SB - 2 x CS.

Texas #2 Hitters:

Player
% of Team PA
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
R
HR
RBI
BB
SO
Net SB
M Young
82%
.833
114
.365
105
.468
109
80
11
85
39
74
0
M DeRosa
9%
.753
94
.343
99
.410
95
7
1
4
5
10
0
I Kinsler
7%
.536
41
.291
84
.245
57
5
0
1
6
11
1
The Rest
2%
.543
43
.293
85
.250
58
2
0
0
1
4
0
TEAM
-
.798
105
.356
103
.442
103
94
12
90
51
99
1
AL Average*
-
.777
-
.346
-
.431
-
103
15
83
56
103
3
Team Rank in AL
-
-
6
-
5
-
6
12
10
4
9
7
9

Michael Young lost 29 points of OBP and 54 of slugging in 2006 but still ranked among the best #2 hitters in the AL. Reviewing his last four years, 2005’s .331/.385/.513 may represent his peak, and Texas fans will have to tolerate something like .310/.355/.470 for the next couple of years. Should Young’s 2006 be indicative of his future, he doesn’t quite pan out relative to other #3 hitters. Here’s a fun table of how Young’s overall line (not just batting 2nd) of .314/.356/.459 measures up if he’d batted the entire season in a particular spot in the order:

Pos
L-OPS+
L-obp+
L-slg+
1
108
101
107
2
109
103
106
3
95
99
95
4
87
97
90
5
93
99
94
6
112
109
103
7
115
110
105
8
126
111
115
9
139
117
122

The table doesn’t indicate the best spot in the lineup for Young (“A 139 L-OPS+ from the ninth spot? Let’s bat Young there!”) but it could suggest where he tops out. The table also doesn’t consider other personnel. If the Rangers don’t acquire a big bat to replace Carlos Lee, batting Young third and Teixeira fourth might be optimal (perhaps with Ian Kinsler occupying one of the top two spots).

Mark DeRosa filled the #2 slot adequately. Kinsler and a few others didn’t offer much.

American League #2 Hitters:

TEAM
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
Toronto
.853
119
.372
108
.482
111
NY Yankees
.826
116
.381
111
.445
105
Seattle
.800
112
.329
96
.471
115
Texas
.798
105
.356
103
.442
103
Tampa Bay
.793
106
.330
96
.464
110
LA Angels
.783
107
.357
104
.426
103
Chicago Sox
.760
96
.349
101
.411
95
Kansas City
.758
94
.342
97
.416
97
Oakland
.756
99
.340
100
.416
100
Baltimore
.731
91
.331
96
.400
95
Detroit
.731
92
.326
95
.405
98
Minnesota
.726
94
.349
103
.377
91
Cleveland
.721
91
.326
96
.395
96
Boston
.700
84
.334
97
.366
87

Best #2 hitting: Toronto, with former Ranger Frank Catalanatto (.302/.377/.442 in 387 ABs) and Alex Rios (.368/.399/.674 in 144 ABs).

Worst #2 hitting: Red Sox #2 hitters scored an AL-worst 89 runs despite Ortiz and Ramirez batting behind them. Mark Loretta had minimal power but did reach base at a league-average rate (.291/.346/.369). His teammates hit .198/.232/.340 in 91 at-bats.

Posted by Lucas at 07:42 PM

Weekend Photo


Can you spot the bat? Gorman Cave, Colorado Bend State Park, 7 October 2006.

Posted by Lucas at 12:21 PM

October 26, 2006

Dear ESPN

It's the "Nippon Ham" Fighters, not the Nippon "Ham Fighters." Anyway, Nippon Ham won its first league championship since 1962, so congrats to once and present potential Rangers manager Trey Hillman.

Posted by Lucas at 10:51 AM

October 24, 2006

Reviewing the Ranger Lineup: #1 Hitters

Time to begin the Second Annual Review Of Ranger Hitters In Terms Of Lineup And Defensive Positions. As with last year, I’ll start with the #1 hitters.

First, a brief refresher on the stats. You know OPS and OPS+. If not, OPS is the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and OPS+ converts that number to an index based on the league average and player’s home park. 100 is always average, higher is better. I also like to display OBP+ and SLG+, which are calculated just like OPS+. OBP+ tends to vary less than SLG+.

For Texas’s #1 hitters, the meaningful comparison is not how they performed relative to the league as a whole but rather the AL’s other #1 hitters. The AL batted .275/.337/.439 in 2006, while #1 hitters posted a line of .284/.350/.422. Also, The Ballpark favored hitters with a factor of 1.005 for on-base percentage and 1.020 for slugging. Thus, players hitting first for Texas need an on-base percentage of .351 and a slugging percentage of .431 to be of average quality. Regarding the “AL average” row in the table below, the rate stats are park-adjusted while the counting stats are simple averages.

Texas #1 Hitters:

Player
% of Team PA
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
R
HR
RBI
BB
SO
Net SB
G Matthews
89%
.868
121
.372
106
.496
115
102
19
79
58
98
-4
B Wilkerson
5%
.565
41
.190
54
.375
87
6
2
5
1
16
1
8 others
6%
.829
110
.341
97
.488
113
7
2
6
3
7
0
TEAM
-
.849
116
.361
103
.489
114
115
23
90
62
121
-3
AL Average
-
.782
-
.351
-
.431
-
109
15
70
65
113
9
Team Rank in AL
-
-
4
-
5
-
3
4
4
2
7
10
13

With free agency looming, Gary Matthews guaranteed over $20 million in future dollars on top of the $2.8 million paid to him by Texas this season. That’s a nice six months. Matthews hit .313 with ample patience and plenty of power batting first for Texas.

To what extent Texas tries to keep him is one of the toughest offseason decisions I can recall. As a center fielder and leadoff hitter, Matthews provided solutions for two problems that have plagued the franchise since I walked to Butler Elementary in Garanimals. Texas has a chance to extend that solution for another three years or so. How nice would that be?

Alas, the downside:

  • Matthews is 32 and more likely to decline than to improve or stand ground.
  • Most of his amazing 2006 rests on an upsurge in batting average. Matthews hit .313 in ‘06 but only .250 in his previous 2,980 at-bats and never above .275 in any one season. Whereas power and patience are relatively stable from year to year, batting average is quite fickle. His three-year aggregate in Texas -- .285/.349/.468 – seems a more reasonable basis for the future than his ’06 performance.
  • How good is his defense, really? Despite his stellar reputation built on several astonishing catches, Win Shares places him only in the middle of the pack among center fielders, and Baseball Prospectus takes an even dimmer view. I’m of the belief that he’s no worse than average defensively, but that’s just a belief. Maybe the highlight-reel catches are masking overall mediocrity. Still, among the potential problems with signing him to a long-term deal, defense ranks as the least worrisome.

Despite those caveats, it’s not unreasonable to expect Matthews to provide average leadoff-hitting and center-field defense during the next three years. Does that equal $8 million per season? When analyzed in a vacuum, no. Considering the thin free-agent market and Texas’s in-house alternatives… maybe yes. The amount of money Matthews eventually receives will almost certainly exceed his worth, but perhaps by a margin small enough as to be shrug-worthy.

Incidentally, in terms of WARP, Gary Matthews did not have the best season by a center fielder in Ranger history. That honor goes to Juan Gonzalez in 1992.

Brad Wilkerson began 2006 as leadoff hitter. His nightmarish tenure contained some of the most inept at-bats I’ve ever seen outside of my softball league. I believe that in 41 plate appearances he struck out 79 times. Wilkerson did right himself once deposited in the #6 or #7 slots until a lingering shoulder problem prematurely ended his season. He may yet find himself atop the Ranger order in 2007 pending full health and agreeable contract negotiations.

American League #1 Hitters:

TEAM
OPS
L-OPS+
OBP
L-OBP+
SLG
L-SLG+
R
HR
RBI
Cleveland
.916
140
.378
109
.538
130
137
29
78
NY Yankees
.848
119
.365
105
.483
114
132
25
91
Toronto
.852
117
.374
107
.478
110
118
21
87
Texas
.849
116
.361
103
.489
114
115
23
90
Tampa Bay
.816
110
.341
98
.475
112
114
25
69
Seattle
.782
108
.369
107
.413
101
112
9
49
Detroit
.765
100
.336
96
.429
104
99
20
73
Kansas City
.775
97
.351
98
.423
99
106
11
69
Boston
.742
93
.348
99
.394
93
108
16
71
Baltimore
.722
88
.335
96
.387
92
95
11
66
Minnesota
.694
84
.336
98
.358
86
94
8
55
Oakland
.685
81
.346
100
.339
81
99
3
54
Chicago Sox
.699
79
.332
94
.368
85
100
4
58
LA Angels
.661
74
.322
92
.338
82
98
5
67

Best #1 hitting: Cleveland by far and almost exclusively in the form of Grady Sizemore.
Worst: Los Angeles (Chone Figgins) and Chicago (mostly Scott Podsednik).

Posted by Lucas at 12:05 PM

October 16, 2006

Frivilous Announcement


I got married two years ago today. Yay, me.

Posted by Lucas at 06:55 PM

October 15, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 8: Oklahoma Redhawks Pitchers

About the league and park: Click here. Short version: The PCL isn’t much different than Major League Baseball. The Redhawks play in an extreme pitcher’s park.

About the pitchers: Redhawk pitchers might not have performed quite as well as you thought, given the park-adjusted RA of 4.36 and ERA of 3.83. Edinson Volquez rode a fantastic strikeout rate and an atrocious walk rate to a nice overall season. Last year, he walked only two per nine innings; this year, 5.4. I take comfort that he actually pitched a little better on the road than at home. On the other hand, his brief MLB tenure has been disastrous. I assume he’s already penciled into Oklahoma’s starting rotation for next April.

In terms of overall statistics, John Danks didn’t offer much beyond a terrific K rate in half a season in AAA, but for a 21-year-old it’s a nice start. Danks has always needed a half-season to learn the league, and he’ll need at least another half-season in AAA to master it. Put another way, I fail to sense any urgency to bring him to Arlington next April, regardless of the shape of the Ranger rotation. Better to see him make fools of AAA hitters for a while.

Interesting that both Volquez and Danks improve their control dramatically after the first inning:

Player Category
Innings
Walks
Walks/Inning
Volquez 1st inning
21.0
23
1.10
Other
99.7
49
0.49
Danks 1st inning
13.0
11
0.85
Other
57.7
23
0.40

Robinson Tejeda was Danks with fewer homers allowed. He actually pitched better in the waning weeks in Texas than in Oklahoma. As with Volquez, shaky control has held him back. He’ll be a Ranger next April barring injury or meltdown. I’m hopeful that John Rheinecker can do what R.A. Dickey never quite could: maintain an MLB career as a swingman. Somehow, he pitched 60 innings at home but only 32 on the road, so his index stats (RA+, etc.) may be a bit overstated. But he also had a road ERA of 1.67, so perhaps not.

Player
G
GS
IP
RA
RA+
ERA
ERA+
WHIP
WHIP+
HRrate
HRrate+
BBrate
BBrate+
SOrate
SOrate+
Scott
Feldman
23
0
27.3
2.96
147
1.98
194
1.06
129
1.8%
105
8.2%
111
21.8%
122
John
Rheinecker
15
15
93.0
3.19
137
2.52
152
1.26
108
1.3%
147
6.2%
145
17.7%
99
John
Wasdin
13
9
63.0
3.29
133
2.00
192
1.10
124
0.8%
240
6.8%
134
24.7%
139
Robinson
Tejeda
15
15
80.0
3.38
129
3.15
122
1.29
106
2.1%
92
12.6%
72
23.7%
132
Jose
Diaz
28
1
35.7
3.53
123
3.28
117
1.40
98
1.3%
148
14.2%
64
29.7%
167
Erasmo
Ramirez
54
0
67.7
3.59
121
3.59
107
1.12
122
1.8%
105
2.6%
354
17.2%
96
Edinson
Volquez
21
21
120.7
3.80
115
3.21
120
1.31
104
1.8%
108
14.2%
64
25.7%
144
Derek
Lee
29
23
143.7
4.57
95
4.26
90
1.45
94
2.4%
80
8.5%
107
14.7%
82
Kevin
Walker
46
5
68.0
4.90
89
4.63
83
1.60
85
1.6%
117
10.5%
87
19.4%
108
Kelvin
Jimenez
26
0
38.0
5.21
84
5.21
74
1.68
81
2.3%
83
13.8%
66
23.1%
129
R.A.
Dickey
22
19
131.7
5.47
80
4.92
78
1.37
100
3.0%
64
8.1%
112
10.8%
60
John
Danks
14
13
70.7
5.48
80
4.33
89
1.43
96
3.6%
53
11.2%
81
23.7%
133
Nick
Masset
24
7
67.3
6.42
68
4.81
80
1.59
86
1.3%
145
9.3%
98
21.5%
121
Ryan
Bukvich
31
0
35.3
6.88
63
6.11
63
1.87
73
4.8%
40
13.2%
69
22.2%
124
Kameron
Loe
13
3
22.7
9.53
46
9.13
42
1.99
69
2.7%
71
11.8%
77
19.0%
106
TEAM
140
140
1,250.7
4.56
96
3.89
99
1.39
98
2.1%
93
9.5%
96
19.7%
111
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
-
4.36
-
3.83
-
1.37
-
1.9%
-
9.1%
-
17.9%
-

Posted by Lucas at 02:22 PM

October 13, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 7: Oklahoma Redhawks Hitters

About the League: Though it reputedly favors hitters, the Pacific Coast League sat squarely between the American and National Leagues in terms of runs scored per game. (Actually, the league’s slugger-happiness is limited to five of its sixteen cities: Colorado Springs, Tucson, Las Vegas, Salt Lake and Albuquerque.) This season, the league most closely resembled the AL in 1997. The league averaged 4.8 runs per game with a batting line of .271/.342/.416.

Pacific Coast League vs American League
Runs Scored 3% lower
Runs Allowed 1% lower
ERA 5% lower
Batting Average .004 lower
On-Base Percentage .003 higher
Slugging Percentage .019 lower
Walk Rate 8% higher
Strikeout Rate 7% higher

About the Park: Bricktown Ballpark remorselessly punishes hitters. Think Comerica before the fences moved in, or the early years of Pac Bell Park, or Yankee Stadium during the ‘30s. The official website claims that “sluggers will enjoy a 325-foot left field porch,” but they’re not enjoying it very often. Redhawks and their opponents hit only 76 homers at the Brick compared to 129 in road parks. For Redhawk players, playing in Oklahoma depresses homers by almost 20%. That and the other factors are vital to understanding the performances of the Rangers’ AAA squad. For hitters, the park-adjusted average line was only .259/.331/.387, and for pitchers, the league average ERA was a tiny 3.89.

Park Factors -- Bricktown Ballpark
Runs 0.88
Average 0.96
On-Base Percentage 0.97
Slugging Percentage 0.93
Home Runs 0.82
Walks 1.02
Strikeouts 0.99

About the players: Revisit the preceding paragraph, then contemplate Jason Botts’s line of .309/.398/.582, good for a Herculean OPS+ of 170. I’m not saying he’ll definitely hit Major-League pitching, but clearly he needs a legitimate opportunity, not the illusory one he got over the summer.

Alas, even Corpus Christi with 400% humidity wouldn’t create park factors sufficient to prettify Joaquin Arias’s line of .268/.296/.361. With the huge caveat that he didn’t turn 22 until last month, I must note that Arias has never exceeded five homers or walked in more than 6% of his plate appearances in any of his five minor-league seasons. Let’s just say he’s not ready yet, despite his startling six-for-eleven MLB debut.

Among other prospects… well, who are they? Laynce Nix, Will Smith, Rashad Eldridge are gone, Texas chopped Aarom Baldiris off the 40-man roster, and Drew Meyer... oy. 23-year-old Anthony Webster didn’t set the PCL aflame. Freddy Guzman reached base at a sterling .375 pace and probably would have make a fine fourth outfielder in the Majors in 2006, but I think Texas would only grudgingly deposit him in Arlington’s center field next year if Gary Matthews departs.

Player
POS
G
OPS
OPS+
AVG
AVG+
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
ISO
ISO+
BB%
BB%+
SO%
SO%+
Net Steals
Jason
Botts
OF
63
.980
170
.309
119
.398
120
.582
150
.273
213
12.4%
133
21.7%
77
6
Adam
Hyzdu
OF
128
.846
135
.271
105
.370
112
.476
123
.205
160
14.4%
156
18.9%
88
-1
Jason
Hart
1B
88
.775
114
.254
98
.315
95
.459
119
.205
160
7.0%
75
16.6%
101
-1
Will
Smith
OF
43
.753
110
.280
108
.351
106
.402
104
.122
95
10.2%
110
16.5%
101
0
Adrian
Brown
OF
36
.747
110
.295
114
.379
114
.369
95
.074
58
12.2%
132
12.9%
130
9
Laynce
Nix
OF
77
.753
109
.269
104
.323
98
.430
111
.161
126
5.9%
64
21.2%
79
2
Jamie
Burke
C
102
.745
107
.278
107
.323
98
.422
109
.144
112
5.6%
61
10.0%
167
0
Freddy
Guzman
OF
69
.720
102
.282
109
.375
113
.345
89
.063
49
12.5%
135
12.5%
133
13
Anthony
Webster
OF
69
.701
95
.269
104
.317
96
.384
99
.115
90
5.1%
55
12.9%
129
8
Joaquin
Arias
SS
124
.657
83
.268
103
.296
89
.361
93
.093
73
3.7%
40
11.5%
145
6
Nick
Trzesniak
C
50
.646
80
.255
98
.316
95
.329
85
.074
58
8.5%
92
15.3%
109
0
Adam
Morrissey
2B
42
.622
74
.236
91
.296
89
.326
84
.090
70
7.1%
77
20.9%
80
-4
Jace
Brewer
SS
65
.619
72
.242
93
.284
86
.335
87
.093
73
4.9%
53
15.7%
107
-7
Rashad
Eldridge
OF
36
.583
63
.220
85
.290
88
.293
76
.073
57
8.9%
96
21.2%
79
-3
Drew
Meyer
SS
95
.583
63
.228
88
.278
84
.305
79
.077
60
6.9%
74
20.0%
83
-13
Tom
Gregorio
C
37
.570
59
.218
84
.279
84
.291
75
.073
57
8.3%
90
17.3%
96
0
Aarom
Baldiris
2B
78
.533
49
.216
83
.253
76
.280
72
.064
50
4.0%
43
14.8%
112
-3
TEAM
-
140
.707
97
.261
101
.323
98
.384
99
.123
96
8.1%
87
16.0%
104
15
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
.718
-
.259
-
.331
-
.387
-
.128
-
9.3%
-
16.7%
-
8

About the stats: See the post on Clinton’s hitters for explanations and caveats.

Posted by Lucas at 06:00 PM

Weekend Photo


In my car on Highway 105 between Navasota and Brenham, 11 October 2006.

Posted by Lucas at 12:25 PM

October 12, 2006

Waiver Claims

Texas claimed pitcher FRANCISCO CRUCETA off waivers from Seattle and pitcher MIKE WOOD off waivers from Kansas City. Texas also designated utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON for assignment.

Despite my admonition, the Rangers made a roster move while I was out of town (in Beaumont, the crown jewel of southeast Texas).

Learn everything you’d ever want to know about Cruceta here. Also, USS Mariner is displeased. Sounds good to me. While Cruceta looks like a failed prospect that might yet pan out, Wood already looks played out. With 293 MLB innings, mostly during 2004-2005 when Kaufmann Stadium favored pitchers, Wood has produced a vanilla walk rate (3.3 per nine IP), a subpar homer rate (1 per 7.3 IP), and a grim strikeout rate (4.8 per nine IP). Feels like a Spring Training roster cut to me.

I guess the Nevin trade was a bust because we couldn’t resign Hairston. But seriously, folks...

Posted by Lucas at 12:34 PM

October 09, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 6: Frisco Roughriders Pitchers

About the league and park: Click here. Very short version:Texas League plays similarly to the American League circa 1991-1993, which is to say, friendly to offenses but not quite so friendly as the late 1990s. The park moderately favors hitters.

About the pitchers: As with the California League, young Eric Hurley (2004 supplemental first-rounder) handled the Texas League with aplomb. The walk and strikeout rates are delicious; a slightly lower homer rate in 2007 would be the cherry on top. 2004 top pick Thomas Diamond struck out over one of every four batters he faced… and walked one of every seven. He allowed only a .285 average on balls in play, preferably a result of his dominance rather than luck. If he can pull his walk rate below 4.5 per nine innings, he’ll make the short list for reinforcements for Arlington in 2007.

2003 first-rounder John Danks was more uncomfortably homer-prone (22 in 140 innings between AA and AAA) and allowed a slugging percentage of .480 in AA. Nevertheless, he posted a decent RA of 104. The lefty struck out batters at a higher rate than even Diamond and had none of the control issues. Daniel Haigwood (the return for Fabio Castro) kept the ball in play, permitting only four homers in 62 innings. Unfortunately, the ball was too much in play – he allowed a ghastly .394 OBP. A round of applause for Kea Kometani, a 15th-rounder from 2005 who jumped to AA during the season and offered solid peripherals that belied his ordinary RA.

Players ordered by Run Average.

Player
G
GS
IP
RA
RA+
ERA
ERA+
WHIP
WHIP+
HRrate
HRrate+
BBrate
BBrate+
SOrate
SOrate+
Michael
Bumstead
33
0
54.7
2.14
240
1.81
248
1.08
138
0.0%
inf
9.3%
101
25.9%
145
Eric
Hurley
6
6
37.0
2.19
235
1.95
231
0.86
173
2.8%
81
7.8%
120
22.1%
124
Nick
Masset
8
8
48.0
3.00
171
2.06
218
1.21
123
0.0%
inf
10.2%
92
20.3%
114
Daniel
Haigwood
12
12
62.0
4.21
122
3.63
124
1.77
84
1.4%
166
15.3%
61
19.8%
111
Thomas
Diamond
27
27
129.3
4.52
114
4.24
106
1.41
106
2.5%
92
14.1%
67
26.1%
147
Jeremy
Ward
30
0
49.7
4.71
109
4.35
103
1.35
110
2.4%
97
7.6%
123
21.8%
122
John
Danks
13
13
69.3
4.93
104
4.15
108
1.38
108
3.7%
62
7.4%
126
27.7%
156
Jesse
Chavez
38
0
59.0
5.03
102
4.42
102
1.39
107
2.0%
117
11.1%
84
27.8%
156
Kea
Kometani
17
16
88.3
5.09
101
4.69
96
1.45
103
1.0%
222
8.6%
109
20.1%
113
Danny
Touchet
34
0
65.7
5.21
99
5.07
89
1.46
102
2.1%
111
6.2%
150
15.6%
88
Jesse
Carlson
43
0
58.0
6.05
85
4.66
96
1.43
104
2.8%
84
7.1%
132
17.8%
100
Steven
Rowe
45
3
83.0
6.40
80
5.53
81
1.54
97
3.8%
61
8.9%
106
18.0%
101
Andy
Walker
20
15
93.0
6.48
79
5.81
77
1.51
99
5.1%
45
5.1%
183
12.7%
71
Ryan
Jensen
11
8
50.0
6.66
77
5.94
76
1.50
99
2.7%
85
5.9%
160
16.7%
94
Armando
Galarraga
9
9
41.0
7.46
69
5.49
82
1.68
89
2.6%
89
6.8%
138
19.8%
111
TEAM
TOTALS
140
140
1,238.0
4.91
105
4.30
105
1.42
105
2.3%
102
9.2%
102
20.5%
115
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
-
5.14
-
4.50
-
1.49
-
2.40%
-
9.4%
-
17.8%
-

About the stats: See the top of this post for explanations and caveats.

Posted by Lucas at 11:58 PM

October 08, 2006

Weekend Photo


Colorado Bend State Park, 7 October 2006

Posted by Lucas at 11:01 PM

October 05, 2006

Back In The Day...

What I wrote in an ESPN column (pre-blog) on 1 November 2002 after Showalter was hired:

Reading about Buck Showalter’s zeal for discipline, you might believe Showalter previously helmed the HMS Bounty (as the sadistic Trevor Howard rather than the more nuanced Anthony Hopkins) or perhaps was the Gunnery Sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket.? Presumably, Showalter possesses skills beyond dictating the dress code on flights to Seattle. He has a 563-504 career record, helped to resurrect a faltering Yankee franchise in the early 1990s and led Arizona to the playoffs in its second year of existence. As before, he may wear out his welcome after three or four years. Despite his potentially short shelf-life, he is widely praised for his management and evaluation skills.
The “managerial tendencies? section from STAT’S annual Major League Handbooks (which to my extreme dismay will no longer be published) indicate that Showalter didn’t appear to overmanage his Arizona squads during 2000-2001. They tended to steal more often than the average NL team (especially with none out). He ordered a few more bunts than the typical manager but far fewer hit-and-runs. He eschewed the intentional walk and the pitchout. He did tend to order more mid-inning pitching changes one-batter relief appearances than most managers.

I watched the Howard/Brando version of Bounty again just last Sunday. Showalter was a cupcake compared to Captain Bligh.

Posted by Lucas at 01:09 AM

Emerson Frostad Has Arrived

Mentioned in Rotoworld.

Also, someone should pay me to spend several months in Hawaii.

Posted by Lucas at 12:35 AM

October 04, 2006

Stats Ahoy

Baseball Reference already has 2006 stats posted. That was fast. Rangers here.

I'd like to note that, for the second time in three years, Texas had a better OPS+ than ERA+.

UPDATE: Travis Hafner's best comp among hitters through their Age 29 season? Brian Giles.

Posted by Lucas at 07:47 PM

Showalter Fired

Texas fired manager Buck Showalter.

I haven’t written much about Showalter because I’m ambivalent about him. I agree that Showalter had to go, and I won’t miss him. Having said that, I have no doubt that he tried his best to make the team a winner and that he believed he could lead capably into the future. He refused to resign, and rightly so.

I doubt I’d enjoy working for him, but that’s an issue of personality, not managerial competence. Most people (and I can’t say I’m excluding myself) judge a manager based on personality because that’s all they have to go on. Sure, there are wins and losses, but that’s mostly the domain of the players. Grading managers objectively is a difficult task with nebulous results. Only those on the far end of the curve (say, Earl Weaver and Larry Bowa) are easily assessed.

Showalter’s dismissal actually did hinge on personality. Tom Hicks (and it is ultimately Hicks’s decision despite his public handoff to Jon Daniels) didn’t fire him because he started Rod Barajas too often. In today’s press conference Daniels expressed the need for a “fresh perspective,? usually an empty phrase but appropriate in this case. Not for the first time, Showalter’s personality didn’t mesh with the players. He consistently ranked among the least-liked managers according to secret ballots of players. Though a friendly relationship between manager and players certainly isn’t requisite to winning, too much dislike and mistrust can poison a clubhouse (or any working environment).

Tom Hicks may have wanted to retain Showalter, but Hicks himself paved the way for Showalter’s firing with his ill-advised interview questioning the character of the players. After the predictable backlash from the players, media and fans, the present situation could not stand. Someone had to go in order to relieve the tension. Should Hicks and Daniels have dismantled the team to save the manager? Of course not. Even on the assumption that Showalter is a great manager and doesn’t deserve firing, it’s far easier and sensible to replace him rather than the players.

Far more difficult is the task of replacing the team’s the biggest problem, its owner. As pointed out by Ed Coffin, frequent commenter at Lone Star Ball and Jamey Newberg’s message board, Tom Hicks is a deal broker, not an executive. It’s not that he has no plan. In fact, he’s had many plans, each diligently followed for a couple of years or so, whereupon an entirely new and often diametrically opposing plan takes its place.

In eight seasons of ownership, Hicks has employed three general managers and will soon hire his fourth manager. After 2001, Hicks replaced Doug Melvin with John Hart and simultaneously hired Grady Fuson with the understanding that Fuson would assume GM duties after a three-year “internship.? Two years and nine months later, Hicks dismissed Fuson. After Texas unexpectedly won 89 games in 2004, only the second winning season during Hicks’s tenure, he signed Hart to a rolling two-year extension and Showalter to a three-year extension with a club option. Nine months later, Hicks reassigned Hart. One year and nine months later, he fired Showalter before his extension began. Mull that one over. Hicks signed Showalter to a guaranteed three-year, $6 million contract when the existing contract still had two years remaining, and Showalter will receive that money without managing a single game.

Wait, there’s more. Hicks signed Alex Rodriguez to a ten-year, $252 million contract. Rodriguez lasted three years. During the next nineteen years the Rangers will pay him $87 million (plus interest) to play for the Yankees and to hone his golf skills after he retires. On a broader level, he instigated a period of frivolous spending followed by extreme parsimony. Accounting errors during 2001-2002 continue to haunt the team.

Replacing Showalter was necessary, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the team. I hope that in two years I’m discussing a Rangers playoff game and not the next Two Year Plan.

Posted by Lucas at 06:52 PM

October 03, 2006

Draft History Updated

Statuses of drafted players updated through 2006 season. Feel free to email me if you see any errors. No doubt there's a few.

Posted by Lucas at 01:07 AM

October 02, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 5: Frisco Roughriders Hitters

The League: Known as a hitter-friendly league, the Texas League bears a strong resemblance to the AL during 1991-1993 and 1995. Compared to 2006, walks and strikeouts are 10% more frequent and (as with any minor league) unearned runs more common. (0.63 per nine innings compared to 0.38 in the AL).

Texas League vs American League
Runs Scored 1% lower
Runs Allowed 1% higher
ERA 4% lower
Batting Average .005 lower
On-Base Percentage .005 higher
Slugging Percentage .019 lower
Walk Rate 10% higher
Strikeout Rate 10% higher

The Park: Standard down the lines (335’), a bit shallow to the alleys (364’) and deep to center (409’), Dr. Pepper Ballpark favors hitters. I understand that tickets are the most expensive in AA, up to $18. In AAA Round Rock, tickets top out at $12, plus you get to see Joe McEwing.

Park Factors -- Dr. Pepper Ballpark
Runs 1.03
Average 1.02
On-Base Percentage 1.02
Slugging Percentage 1.01
Walks 1.02
Strikeouts 0.99

Update your satellite imagery, Google!

The Team: Nate Gold (10th round, 2002) had a 145 OPS+ and led the league in homers. Unfortunately, he turned 26 in June, borderline-ancient for a prospect in AA. Texas exposed him to the Rule 5 draft last winter and may do so again despite his upsurge. Perhaps Texas will add him to the 40-man roster this fall and try to sneak him through waivers at the end of Spring Training if they need his spot.

Ben Harrison (2002, 7th) performed admirably after a midseason promotion from Bakerfield, though his walk rate plummeted. Kevin Mahar (undrafted) maintained his power (sixth in the league in triples, eighth in homers) but lost fifty points of average and eighty of OBP in his transition to AA. Travis Metcalf (2004, 11th) lost everything but his cap; his OPS plummeted from .870 in Bakersfield in 2005 to .622 in Frisco. The Rangers needn’t make a roster. Like Gold, they could face exposure to thus winter’s Rule 5 draft.

Overall, Frisco had a weak offense, scoring about one-quarter run per game under the park-adjusted league average.

Player
POS
G
OPS
OPS+
AVG
AVG+
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
ISO
ISO+
BB%
BB%+
SO%
SO%+
Net Steals
Nate
Gold
1B
120
.958
145
.292
107
.376
107
.582
138
.290
195
10.8%
115
15.8%
106
-5
Kevin
Richardson
C
93
.857
120
.271
99
.358
102
.498
118
.227
152
9.8%
1002
23.9%
70
2
Adam
Morrissey
2B
54
.844
118
.313
114
.387
110
.457
108
.144
97
10.7%
112
18.4%
91
-2
Ben
Harrison
OF
42
.832
113
.282
103
.341
97
.491
116
.209
140
5.8%
60
16.4%
102
4
Anthony
Webster
OF
59
.827
113
.310
113
.364
104
.463
109
.153
103
7.7%
80
10.4%
161
-7
Kevin
Mahar
OF
127
.789
102
.267
98
.319
91
.469
111
.202
136
6.1%
64
17.9%
94
-1
Casey
Benjamin
SS
92
.771
99
.283
103
.349
99
.422
100
.139
93
9.4%
98
14.5%
115
-2
Mike
Nickeas
C
39
.745
95
.248
91
.382
109
.363
86
.115
77
15.7%
1603
16.3%
103
-1
Jake
Blalock
OF
110
.711
85
.266
97
.339
97
.372
88
.106
71
9.6%
100
18.4%
91
2
Enrique
Cruz
SS
76
.694
79
.270
99
.323
92
.370
87
.100
67
6.3%
656
22.6%
74
-4
Jim
Fasano
1B
96
.692
79
.244
89
.308
88
.384
91
.140
94
7.8%
82
20.3%
82
2
Luke
Grayson
OF
55
.668
73
.233
85
.305
87
.364
86
.131
88
7.4%
757
19.6%
875
-1
Ruddy
Yan
CF
49
.622
63
.257
94
.320
91
.302
71
.045
30
8.2%
85
10.6%
160
1
Travis
Metcalf
3B
121
.622
62
.221
81
.298
85
.325
77
.104
70
9.6%
100
20.9%
158
-5
TEAM
TOTALS
-
140
.753
95
.267
98
.339
97
.415
98
.148
99
8.8%
92
18.1%
92
-12
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
.751
-
.274
-
.351
-
.423
-
.149
-
9.6%
-
16.7%
-
-12

About the stats: See the post on Clinton’s hitters for explanations and caveats.

Posted by Lucas at 07:59 PM

October 01, 2006

Flat

The Rangers have lost at least six of their final ten games every season this decade, and they’ve lost six of their final seven series:

YEAR    LAST 10  LAST SERIES
2000      1-9        0-3
2001      3-7        1-3
2002      3-7        0-3
2003      4-6        1-2
2004      4-6        2-1
2005      4-6        0-3
2006      3-7        1-2
TOTAL    22-48       5-17

Posted by Lucas at 07:44 PM