Numbers Don’t Lie

By Dave Ervin

The offseason moves (or non-moves) for the Texas Rangers fell under a lot of speculation this winter. What was the club supposed to do without its biggest bat (Josh Hamilton), its clubhouse leader (Michael Young) and a crowd pleasing all-star basher (Mike Napoli)?

Many fans looked at the way the offseason played out and saw the Rangers swinging and missing in their attempt to stock their team with the necessary pieces to make a serious run at a World Series. The front office would have us believe it was simply the result of an already talented team showing restraint. The additions of AJ Pierzynski and Lance Berkman, while significant, were not exactly the budget-busting big splash acquisitions most fans wanted.

Image

Craig Gentry has been considerably more productive than the man he’s replacing this year

Six weeks into the season, it’s apparent Jon Daniels and company knew exactly what they were doing. Again.

Take a look at this breakdown in statistics for the Rangers three most significant departures and their current replacements:

AB

H

HR

RBI

R

SLG

AVG

OBP

OPS

WAR

NAPLOI

142

37

6

32

19

0.514

0.261

0.318

0.842

0.8

YOUNG

124

38

1

9

14

0.395

0.306

0.386

0.781

0.2

HAMILTON

141

29

4

11

14

0.333

0.206

0.258

0.591

-0.8

TOTALS

407

104

11

52

47

0.415

0.255

0.319

0.738

0.2

PIERZYNSKI

95

25

4

11

9

0.411

0.263

0.297

0.708

0.4

BERKMAN

95

28

2

15

15

0.442

0.295

0.427

0.869

0.6

MARTIN/GENTRY

125

31

2

8

20

0.368

0.248

0.329

0.697

1.4

TOTALS

315

84

8

34

44

0.407

0.267

0.351

0.758

2.4

Notice how in all the counting stats, the Ranger’s current catcher, DH and Centerfielder pull comparable numbers to their 2012 counterparts despite accumulating nearly 100 less at bats. In the averaged stats, current Rangers are better across the board.

The most surprising thing to me is the platoon* of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry combining for a total of 1.4 Wins Above Replacement so far this season. Meanwhile, Josh Hamilton is currently at a negative WAR for 2013. That 2.2 difference is the difference between a “solid starter” and a “scrub” according to fangraphs.

* Ron Washington refuses to call the situation between Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry a “platoon” but that’s clearly what it is. While the Rangers would probably prefer Martin, the bigger investment of the two, to pull away and take over full-time duties in centerfield, the fact of the matter is Gentry has been equally good.  Their playing time has been almost exactly equally split and their numbers are nearly identical, with Gentry having a slight edge in categories like OPS and WAR. But that’s a discussion for another day.

As long as we’re getting all statsy in this post, I would also like to point out that the other big free agent the Rangers “missed” on,  Zach Greinke, is currently being outpitched by the Ranger’s backup option, Nick Tepesch. Yes, the rookie has struggled in his last two starts, but anything is better than nothing, which Greinke is currently giving the Dodgers while he’s laid out on an operating table.

I’m not trying to sit here and say that Jon Daniels knew Zack Greinke would get injured, or that he could’ve predicted such a disastrous start for Hamilton. But he and his front office cohorts were well aware of the talent they had on hand, and the upside their offseason Plan B carried once the price tag on some of the more coveted free agents got too high.

Will Hamilton come around? Probably. Will Napoli have a better offensive year than A.J.? Maybe. But even if former Rangers outplay current Rangers this year will it be to the tune of 125 million dollars? No way.

Not only do the Rangers have a comparable, if not better team to their 2012 squad, but they have it at a fraction of the cost. Meaning, when a new crop of free-agents become available at the trade deadline the team can afford to splurge a little. At a time when it might actually help.

As the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels have all shown us over the last couple of years, a good team is not built by a GM who is simply willing to spend. But by one who knows how to spend.

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Posted on May 11, 2013, in 2013, Rangers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Well said Dave! Having the money to spend can be a wonderful thing, but knowing how to spend it makes all the difference, especially if your a small market team. Spending it wisely can keep your team in contention while leaving your organization financially solvent. Or, you can be the Dodgers and Angels with bottomless saddlebags, and you can spend to win, but still accumulate injuries like a dog catching fleas. Either way it just makes sense to have a good GM who knows how to evaluate talent, and who further understands the financial value of not overpaying for skills that could be compromised by injuries. Kudos to Jon Daniels for thinking things through, in fact I guess you could say his being the youngest general manager in the big leagues has not messed with his good sound judgment. No wonder the Rangers are consistently at the top, and I would take that every year.

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