Image courtesy of the Dallas Morning News
Going into the 2012 season, one position the Rangers do not have to worry about is shortstop. That position is occupied by 2010 All-Star, Elvis Andrus. Elvis is young, fast, and a good hitter at 23 years of age. Defensively he has amazing range, and a strong arm. Andrus makes a lot of fantastic plays in the field, and then can turn around and throw a ball away. He’s young, and until he matures a bit more, this may happen from time to time. However, going into his third full year, the expectations on his defense, should rise.
Defensively, Andrus is an amazing player. He has become a premier player on defense. He makes plays that most shortstops cannot. However, as I previously mentioned, he does tend to throw the ball away. The errors, are mostly throwing errors on routine plays. We can attribute that to lack of attention, or taking the play for granted. Whatever you want to classify it as, those need to be omitted from Elvis’ game. Andrus rarely throws the ball away on a spectacular play.
Offensively, Elvis can hit lead-off, 2nd, or 9th in the lineup. His versatility to move around in the lineup is a luxury that Wash (Ranger Manager Ron Washington) has. We can expect to see the same thing from young Mr. Andrus in 2012. An average above .250, a few home runs, a lot of stolen bases. As he matures, the power numbers should increase. He is currently a solid hitter, with gap power, but he also has the ability to clear the fence occasionally. I fully expect his batting Average to rise as he gets a little older, but more importantly, his On-Base Percentage should also increase.
On the bench, the situation is not yet solidified. The front runners include Alberto Gonzalez, Luis Hernandez, among others to fill the utility infield spot. Of course, the Rangers can slide Michael Young over to fill in for a game or two, to give Elvis a day off if needed. The issue, as with almost every team, at every position, is if Elvis goes down to injury, that puts the Rangers in a very tight spot. The good thing for Texas is that, despite an injury, the Rangers only need to fill the shortstop position no more than 15 times with a bench player, or Michael Young.
Elvis will play 154 games for the Rangers this year, leaving only 8 games that Wash will have to fill in.
Avg HR RBI SB BB K E
Andrus .294 11 65 42 72 68 13
The Bench .230 1 3 2 3 9 2
Patrick Despain is the Editor and a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning.
by Chris Kautz
Second base is a strong position for the Texas Rangers. Despite the criticism he draws from casual fans for his body language and disproportionate number of pop outs, Ian Kinsler has been one of the most consistent, solid performers for the Texas Rangers over the past few seasons. Barring some sort of catastrpohic injury, he'll continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Kinsler has transformed from a guy who was shaky early in his career defensively, into a wizard with the leather. He makes incredible plays look routine to the point that we're often disappointed when he doesn't make the impossible play. Along with Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, Kinsler comprises one of the best defensive infields in all of baseball (let's not worry about that 1st base spot for now). Kinsler should have won the Gold Glove last season, and I expect the same level of defense from him in the 2012 season.
At the plate, Kinsler seems to have found some balance of power and approach that he has lacked in the past. He hit 32 home runs as a leadoff hitter in 2011. He also reached base at a .355 clip, which was made possibly by the 89 walks he took (2007 was his previous high with 62). As long has he continues to show the patience, maturity, and discipline at the plate that he did in 2011, Kinsler should be one of the top run producing Rangers in the 2012 season.
The utility infielder spot is up for grabs in the Texas Rangers organization. There are a couple of contenders in camp looking for a shot, but nobody stands out as a great option. This is somewhat concerning, as Kinsler has had some injury problems in the past. 2011 was the first season in which he did not pay a visit to the disabled list. Michael Young is an option if Kinsler needs to take a day off here or there, but if Kinsler should land on the DL someone more competent with a glove will be required.
The Prediction: Kinsler will suffer a minor injury costing him a week or so, but will remain relatively healthy. He'll play 152 games, requiring Ron Washington to go to Michael Young or a mystery guest only 10 times.
Avg HR RBI SB BB K E
Kinsler .260 28 80 25 75 66 12
The Bench .245 2 7 1 4 11 2
Bonus Wild Projection (Term Stolen from Dan Allsup):
Kinsler will go on a tear in late August and through September, helping the club to beat the Angels for the AL West crown in the final week of the season.
Chris Kautz is a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Chris.Kautz@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @SDIChris.
by Mike McGehee
Mitch Moreland stepped to the plate in Game 3 of the World Series in front of the home crowd begging for a victory, and a prayer, for a Cinderella ending to the 2010 season.
Now the first base position is one of intense focus on this Texas Rangers ballclub. Moreland steadily became less and less effective at the plate as last year wore on and the situation devolved to the point that Mike Napoli and Michael Young were forced to make platoon starts at first, a position where their defensive liability glared.
A few weeks after the ending to the 2011 World Series (which will go un-discussed in this article) the news seemed to trickle out that Moreland would need surgery on his wrist for tendonitis and that the injury had plagued him for about half the season. The same half that saw Moreland’s numbers steadily drop like a quarterly profit chart for Blockbuster.
How effective can this injury be at hampering offensive effectiveness? In baseball, reaction timing is crucial. One can’t simply guess which pitch the pitcher will throw, you much study, predict, and then adapt. What the injury does is take away the ability to adapt to a pitch because in order to generate power, Moreland was forced to start his swing early and commit to it. He was not able to properly adjust his bat speed when he guessed fastball and got a slider in the dirt. It also takes away the option of a check swing; the wrist just isn’t powerful enough to withstand it.
But how much does that matter?
Moreland has shown he has difficulty hitting lefties. Personally, I think that his pitch recognition is well below average, leading to some absolutely awful looking swings. He is streaky at best and hasn’t yet had a full, healthy, season.
On the upside, when he does connect he can hit the ball a mile. He recorded the longest home run at the ballpark last season. A 472 ft walk off blast against the Astros. He is above average defending the bag, but on this Rangers team there certainly isn’t anyone that is going to challenge Moreland.
Mitch Moreland isn’t an ideal choice. In a perfect world he would be one of the last components to the most complete baseball team Texas has ever fielded. I still believe he is unproven. More than anything, Ranger fans just want him to stay healthy less we incur the wrath of Brad Hawpe at 1B or Mike Young.
The projections for Moreland don’t look great. Most writers at FanGraphs have him sitting around .265/.330/.430 which is nothing to write home about. Actually it’s pretty bad if I’m going to be completely honest. But, as I have written before, the offense that the Rangers have is pretty heavy in power and production. It may not be necessary for Moreland to put up the numbers that are more typical from the 1B position, because of the production the Rangers get from the CF position. And the C position. And the 3B position. RF so on and so on. The ShutDownInning Staff projects Mitch to have the following season:
Avg HR RBI SB BB K E
Moreland ..272 19 65 1 43 96 3
In 2010 Mitch stepped to the plate and took the most memorable swing (at the time) in Rangers history. Now in 2012 the team will ask him to step to the plate everyday to be a part of a team still chasing history.
Mike McGehee is a Shut Down Inning staff writer. You can email him at Mike.McGehee@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @SDIMikeMcGehee
Image courtesy of USA Today
by Lincoln Floyd
** This is the third installment of a new series at Shutdown Inning. This series will look at the 2012 Texas Rangers roster position-by-position each day leading up to Opening Day.
Vernon Wells should be one of the most popular players in Texas. Not because he should play in Texas, but because the Los Angeles Angels traded Mike Napoli for him. Without that trade, Texas would likely not have had the opportunity to land Mike Napoli. Even when Texas did trade for Mike Napoli, I’m not sure anyone believed it would work out as well as it did for Texas.
The story on Napoli’s time in LA is familiar to a lot of us. Manager Mike Scioscia did not think Napoli was a good enough defensive catcher to be “the guy” behind the plate. Instead, LA chose to trade Napoli and play Jeff Mathis behind the plate in 2011. That is a move I’m sure LA would love to take back.
Not only did LA trade for one of the worst contracts in baseball history by acquiring Vernon Wells, they got rid of Napoli so they could play a catcher that put up one of the worst offensive seasons we have ever seen. Meanwhile Napoli was traded to Texas where he played stellar defense and was the best offensive catcher in baseball in 2011.
2011 was by far Mike Napoli’s best year as a professional baseball player. Before he was widely regarded as a power hitter who dominated lefties, but couldn’t do much else. Now he is looked at as one of the few elite catchers in the game. Catcher is a position, much like short stop, that is such a defensive premium that it is hard to have a subpar defender play there. Many, myself included, worried that Napoli would not be able to handle the rigors of being a team’s primary catcher.
Fast forward to now and Mike Napoli has laid many of those questions to rest. His work behind the plate improved greatly since he has been in Texas. (Which is really hard to believe considering Mike Scioscia is widely regarded as one of the best coaches for catchers in the league) Mike Napoli now projects to be the Rangers opening day starter, and primary catcher for 2012. This is the last year Mike Napoli is under team control, and many fans would like to see the Rangers lock Napoli up long term.
Coming off of a career year, Napoli is looking for a larger contact than Texas is comfortable with at the moment. 2012 will be a crucial year for Mike Napoli. If he has another campaign as strong as his 2011 season, he could be in line for a larger contract than Victor Martinez signed with Detroit prior to the 2011 season. Mike has established himself as an elite catcher, but many will be watching to see if 2011 was an anomaly.
Before the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli, they signed Yorvit Torrealba who was supposed to be the Rangers starting catcher for 2011-2012. Obviously those plans have changed with the arrival and explosion of Mike Napoli. Now Texas has taken a position that has been troublesome ever since Ivan Rodriguez left, and turned it in to an area of strength. With Yorvit and Napoli on the roster, Texas has one of the best catching tandems in the league. Yorvit is a defensive specialist who doesn’t kill you offensively. He doesn’t have the pop that Mike Napoli does, but Yorvit is a line drive hitter capable of putting a few in the seats.
Luis Martinez is the rangers “emergency catcher.” He will likely spend most of the year in AAA Round Rock. Martinez doesn’t profile as much of an offensive player, but his defensive work behind the plate is very impressive. For Texas to have an emergency catcher capable of handling a major league staff is a real benefit. If either Yorvit or Napoli goes down for a short period of time, look for Martinez to pick up the slack.
Mike Napoli will catch 70 games for Texas with Yorvit Torrealba catching another 70. Injuries from the catcher position are common so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Luis Martinez come up and catch a few games during the season, as well as some in September. I’ll say he will catch 22 games for Texas this year.
Avg HR RBI SB BB K E
Mike Napoli: .290 28 85 3 50 95 4
The Rest: .255 8 45 3 25 70 5
Lincoln Floyd is a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached via email at Lincoln.Floyd@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @SDILincoln.
Image courtesy of FanSided.com
by Dan AllsupThis is the second installment of a new series at Shutdown Inning. This series will look at the 2012 Texas Rangers roster position-by-position each day leading up to Opening Day. The CloserThe Closer is a source of stability, or just a mess at times. Relief pitchers are an inconsistent bunch; they will likely be stable and messy at some point in their career. They operate in small sample sizes, rely on gimmicks, and they are usually one-trick ponies. Relief pitchers are failed starting pitchers. Relief pitchers make far less money over the course of their careers. Relief pitchers are also invaluable in the playoffs.Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz2011 ALDS and ALCS24.1 IP, 4 ER, 22 K2011 World Series8.1 IP, 6 ER, 11 K The Rangers leaned heavily on those three to get through the Rays and Tigers in the ALDS and ALCS. The Rangers won the first two series because of the bullpen, and they lost the World Series because they were unable to finish games with that same bullpen.To remedy this bullpen breakdown, General Manager Jon Daniels bought a grizzled-ol’, veteran closer to replace his precocious, young stud. JD signed Joe Nathan first thing this offseason, so Neftali Feliz could be moved to the rotation. Additionally, the Rangers now have no reason to yank Feliz back to the bullpen, when the bullpen falters, as it has in Spring Training this year.Joe Nathan is the man at the back of the bullpen. But as all parties involved know, closers are never permanently assigned. Closers are always treated with the ‘What have you done for me lately’ mantra, as they should; closers hold the game in their hand. The knee-jerk reactions are an occupational hazard.In 1997, the Rangers signed a veteran closer to stabilize their bullpen amidst their playoff run. John Wetteland signed for four years and $22.2 million. Wetteland proceeded to give the Rangers a sub-1.00 WHIP. Sub-1.00 WHIPs are Joe Nathan’s specialty; he’s done it five times in his career.Set-up GuysMike Adams, Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman are the Rangers relief pitchers poised to get the bulk of the most important innings in ball games this summer.Last year, the Rangers addressed their bullpen woes in July, acquiring Uehara and Adams. This year the Rangers addressed their bullpen in November, with Joe Nathan.There is no perfect formula for bullpen success. Relievers are fickle, so it would seem that the best approach would be to accumulate as many accomplished relievers as possible in hopes that most will be upright come October. Bullpens are key in October, and the bullpen configuration on Opening Day is rarely the one spittin' seeds in the brisk autumn air. Either way, out of the chute, the Rangers are absolutely stacked in the late-innings. With the Utopian-Bullpen-Configuration, Ogando and Adams will dominate the 7th and 8th innings and Nathan will control the 9th. Uehara and Feldman will clean up the 6th inning or earlier, and Rangers’ starting pitchers will only have to go 5-6 innings.Obviously this is tongue-in-cheek, yet also a reality in some situations. The Utopian-Bullpen-Configuration is what the Rangers rode through the ALDS and ALCS. There’s no telling if this model will make it to October, but JD & Co. have certainly made the bullpen a priority and strength.Other GuysSome other guys who could factor in the bullpen are right handers Mark Hamburger, Mark Lowe, Yoshi Tateyama, Greg Reynolds and Tanner Scheppers. And lefties Michael Kirkman, Neal Cotts, Miguel De Los Santos, Robbie Ross, Ben Snyder and Martin Perez.The Rangers were incredibly healthy and effective last year. Lightning may strike twice, but the Rangers aren’t counting on it. Most of these ‘other guys’ would be featured in most other team’s bullpens. The Rangers have heavily stocked up on late-inning options.ProjectionThe Rangers will ride a tsunami of Shutdown Innings through the first half of the season, then add another high leverage arm or two to further bolster the best ‘pen in baseball. Then the Rangers will correct their postseason wrongs and spray ginger ale on each other, and stuff.Nathan 32 saves, 42IP, 50Ks, 1.15 WHIPAdams 4 saves, 65IP, 70Ks, 0.85 WHIPOgando 2 saves, 90IP, 85Ks, 1.06 WHIPUehara 0 saves, 50IP, 44Ks, 1.16 WHIPFeldman 1 save, 105IP, 60Ks, 1.29 WHIPBonus Wild Projection:Martin Perez will be the Rangers’ lefty-specialist out of the ‘pen come October, and he will be very good at it. Dan Allsup is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. You can email him at Dan.Allsup@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @SDIDan.
Image courtesy of The LA Times
by Peter EllwoodThis is the first installment of a new series at Shutdown Inning. This series will look at the 2012 Texas Rangers roster position-by-position each day leading up to Opening Day.The starters:
One thing you will not find in the Rangers starting pitching staff in 2012 on Opening Day is a true blue legitimate top-of-the-rotation Ace. However, that simple fact does not take away from the truth that starting pitching is a position of strength on this ballclub. For the second consecutive year, despite losing its top pitcher from the prior year (Cliff Lee after 2010, C.J. Wilson after 2011) an argument could be made that the Rangers’ starting rotation is in a stronger position year over year.
The Opening Day starter will be Colby Lewis. The irony of this is that of all the Rangers starting pitchers, the Shutdown Inning staff expects Colby to post the worst ERA, and truly he is the least intriguing of all the Rangers starting pitchers. Lewis is an innings-eating workhorse, reaching the 200 innings pitched plateau each of the last two seasons. However, he is also the best playoff pitcher in Rangers franchise history. This is one of the reasons that he is a great choice for Opening Day starter. As the veteran on the staff, he will lead the way, providing an example and reducing the pressure on the back four of the staff.
Likely falling into the #2 position will be Derek Holland. You can read an extended version of my thoughts on Holland in a previous article. A new wrinkle for Holland is the additional pressure that comes from the recent 5-year contract extension he signed with the Rangers. This team is counting on him to be a key piece of their success for years to come, and that expectation will begin starting from his first start this year. Holland did appear to begin to figure things out in the back half of 2011, and the reports of his hard work in the offseason and this spring would only suggest that that success will continue in early 2012.
The most exciting member of the Rangers staff is Yu Darvish. The international superstar from Japan will likely slide into the #3 spot in the Rangers rotation, despite carrying the largest price tag of the group. This ought to suit Darvish well as he adjusts to pitching in the US, and against MLB competition for the first time. Thus far in the spring, Darvish has delivered mixed results, but spring results are of miniscule importance. Beyond the results, Darvish has showed off the type of stuff and approach that would merit the price the Rangers paid to obtain his services. Every pitch that he throws has superior movement, his arsenal is extensive, he is a natural fit in the clubhouse, and he is putting in the work and bringing the mentality that the Rangers need from him.
SDI writer Lincoln Floyd is the founder of the Matt Harrison fan club, and currently the membership is relatively small. After 2012, it is possible that the group will grow. If you missed it, be sure to read Lincoln’s write up on Harrison, with a comparison to Holland. After Wilson, Harrison had the most successful regular season of the Rangers starting pitchers in 2011. He did suffer from some arm fatigue near the end of the season, but he is still young and continuing to grow. In his second year as a starting pitcher in the rotation for a full season, look for Harrison to continue to build on his 2011 success and sustain it for a full season.
In 2011, the 5th starter for the Rangers was supposed to be Tommy Hunter. In an unfortunate accident for Hunter, and a happy accident for the Rangers, Hunter suffered an injury in Spring Training that sidelined him for the first two months of the season. This allowed former reliever Alexi Ogando to step into the fifth starter role. In 2012, the Rangers once again are attempting to convert a reliever, Neftali Feliz, into their fifth starter. This is now the third year in a row the Rangers have attempted such a conversion (Wilson in 2010). If the Rangers track record of success with these conversions is any indication of what to expect from Feliz, this could be a big year for the former closer. Even better for Feliz is that he has had a full offseason to prepare for being a starter, including working with Pedro Martinez over the winter. The key to his success will be improving his slider and changeup to be MLB-quality pitches, and more importantly how his arm holds up to the increased workload.
No team in baseball can provide the kind of strength beyond its fifth starter like the Rangers. Even though only five starts were made in all of 2011 by a pitcher other than the original starting five, the Rangers are well equipped to handle any injuries or fatigue that may befall Lewis, Holland, Darvish, Harrison, or Feliz. Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman will start the season with a seat in the bullpen, but don’t expect that to be where they remain for the entirety of the season. With the 100-degree temperatures of Arlington summers, an increased workload for Feliz, and the first time for Darvish to work in a 5-man rotation (pitching on 4 days rest instead of once per week in Japan), you can expect Ogando and Feldman to make several starts, either because of injury or forced rest for the starters.
ESPN and Baseball Prospectus have both ranked the Rangers rotation as among the top 6 in all of baseball for 2012. I cannot argue with that projection. This is further proof that today’s version of the Rangers is far removed from the Rangers of old, as starting pitching is a strength to showcase instead of a weakness to cover up.
The Shutdown Inning staff has projected the Rangers starting rotation to produce the following:
Colby Lewis: 14-10, 196 IP, 3.89 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Derek Holland: 17-7, 208 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Yu Darvish: 15-9, 199 IP, 3.31 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Matt Harrison: 14-9, 200 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Neftali Feliz: 10-7, 156 IP, 3.59 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @Peter_Ellwood
By Patrick Despain
The time is almost here. Spring Training is in full swing, and Opening Day is now less than two weeks away for your Texas Rangers. The anticipation is growing, as we look forward to the 2012 MLB season and what it holds for this team.
There are several questions that still remain unanswered. Who will be the utility infielder? Will the club settle on a left hander in the bullpen? Will Neftali Feliz succeed in the rotation? Can Mike Napoli repeat last years performance? Can Yu Darvish succeed in America? And can the Rangers win a third AL Championship, and win their first World Series?
Those are just some of the questions that we will get answers to. Those answers will come, in time. And, as those questions get answered, other questions will arise. When will (insert player name) break out of his slump? Will Colby be able to keep the ball in the yard? That is part of the grind that is 162 games in Major League Baseball.
And a grind it is. For the players, the coaches, the front office and the fans. A 9:05pm first pitch in Seattle on a random Wednesday night is a grind, especially for those of us that have to be at work early the next day. But, remember, we love the grind. We, as Ranger fans, love a 2 out rally in the 8th to take the lead in Oakland. We love Matt Harrison throwing 8 scoreless in Baltimore.
So remember this year, as you are starting to get a little beaten down by the grind, the things that make this the “Great Game.”
As we get ready for the 2012 season, remember why you love this game. Remember that you love this team. Remember, that we all make the trek to Arlington each year because we love “the grind.” There are not many things better than 162 games of Texas Ranger baseball.
- The sound of bat against ball
- The feeling as you walk into RBIA
- The fireworks and “The Natural” when someone tees off
- The Napoli chant
- Listening to Eric Nadel when you can’t go to the game
- That day game in the middle of the week when you take a day off from work
Patrick Despain is the Editor and a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning.
This morning Senior Staff Writer Lincoln Floyd was on The Sports Shack, on 1340 AM "The Fan" in Lubbock, Texas.
By Peter Ellwood
Sports fandom is a funny thing. As Shutdown Inning writer Chris Kautz wrote last month, in the end we’re all just rooting for clothes. The faces of the players and the names on the back of the uniforms are ultimately less important than the name that is emblazoned on the front of the jersey. This truth has been brought home to me this week, considering all of the news that has been generated by a former Ranger, one C.J. Wilson.
By now, you likely know the story. If you don’t, Baseball Time in Arlington provided a concise recap for you. Wilson’s choice to use his Twitter account to share Mike Napoli’s phone number with 117,000 strangers as a joke has come under plenty of scrutiny, which I believe is justified. This “prank” was childish, unnecessarily retaliatory, and Wilson’s staunch refusal to apologize for it has only made things worse, and perhaps displayed more of his true colors. Even while a Ranger, some Texas fans already questioned whether Wilson fit in the clubhouse with the rest of the team given his somewhat pious approach to the game and to media. Now, with Wilson as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, the wool has completely fallen from the eyes of Rangers fans, and at least this week, Wilson is enemy number one.
I fully expect Wilson to be booed when he returns to play in Arlington this summer, despite his contributions to this franchise’s success during his time here. His presence on the Angels only intensifies the already developing rivalry between L.A. and Texas, and I have no problem with that. In fact, his move to California may be one of the best things to ever happen to this rivalry, and to the AL West.
Wilson has quickly found his way on to the coveted list of the love-to-hate all stars. This got me thinking who else might be on this list for Rangers fans. Thanks to an informal Twitter poll I conducted the other night, I think we have the answers.
Alex Rodriguez – There are many reasons that Rangers fans love to cheer against A-Rod. For one, once he was traded to the Yankees, he reflected on his time in Texas as the team being composed of “me and 24 kids”. That was a slap in the face to those former teammates he left behind, and fans took it personally. Second, I think there is still quite a bit of resentment from Rangers fans toward A-Rod for the astronomical size of his contract in Texas, and the constraints it placed on the team. This resentment is not really justified, but it exists. Third, did I mention that A-Rod is now a Yankee?
Mark Teixeira – Not too dissimilar from A-Rod, Teixeira never really ingrained himself in the Rangers team or culture, and made it all too apparent that he was anxious to skip town as soon as he could. The sting is lessened because of the haul the Rangers got in return for Teixeira, with current team pillars Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison coming back from Atlanta in the trade that sent Teixeira packing. This made it much easier to bid Teixeira good riddance. However, he too is now a Yankee and thusly any ounce of dislike is magnified to Rangers fans, and so he is deservedly on this list.
Jered Weaver – The ace of the Angels rotation has had no issues displaying his emotions on the field, often carrying one of the game’s biggest scowls in tow. In 2011, he went up a notch on the love-to-hate list after Mike Napoli hit a home run off of Weaver, and Weaver didn’t take that so well. Weaver stared Napoli down the entire time Napoli was circling the bases, and barked something at Napoli once he was entering the Rangers dugout. Lip readers who witnessed the event immediately felt the need to wash their eyes out with soap.
Those three, and now four players once you add C.J. Wilson, topped the list of almost every Rangers fans response I received. Each of these four is talented, plays for a rival team, and at some point has spurned the pride of Rangers fans. What they also have in common is that if for some reason they were to find their way back to playing for the Rangers, and playing at a high level, it wouldn’t take long for all to be forgiven and for them to once again find their way into the hearts of Rangers fans.
This is what makes sports fandom strange. This is what makes sports fandom amazing.
Peter Ellwood is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @Peter_Ellwood
By Patrick Despain
One constant when people discuss the Texas Rangers is Ian Kinsler. It seems that almost everyone has an opinion on the All-Star 2nd baseman. Whether it is disgust over his infield pop outs or base running mistakes, or even the positives like his outstanding range on defense, an opinion is waiting to be heard.
It seems that people focus on Kinsler’s every at-bat, and not the player as a whole. Yes, he pops out quite a bit, but not every out is a pop out. Yes, he gets thrown out or picked off, but not every time he is on base. We seem to overlook all of the things that Ian does right.
If you were to poll all of the GM’s in Major League Baseball, aside from Brian Cashman in New York and Ben Cherington in Boston, they would probably want Kinsler on their team over their current 2nd baseman. Kinsler is considered a top 3 player at his position and a top 25 player in all of MLB by most experts.
Kinsler is a fantastic player. He was a 30/30 guy last year. Yes, he only hit .255 in 2011, but he is a career .275 hitter. 30 home runs from the leadoff spot is tremendous. That is a luxury every team wants to have. Did you know that Kinsler was thrown out or picked off only 4 times last year? I know it is really hard to bring up, but do you remember Game 2 in last year’s World Series? Trailing 1-0 in the top of the 9th, Kinsler singled and stole second against one of the best defensive catchers in the game to start the Rangers comeback victory.
Ian pops up, hangs his head, and throws his bat. We all see the same thing. We get upset when it happens. Why? Because he popped out, or is it because we don’t like his reaction? Ian is disgusted in his performance, he expects more from himself. Why do we focus so much on Kinsler’s negative plays, but we rarely applaud his on field victories? I am as guilty as anybody when it comes to focusing on Kinsler.
What we forget is what he does well. We forget the great plays he makes on defense, the stolen bases, the home runs and that he is a quiet leader. We forget that he was an MVP candidate a couple of years ago until he incurred an injury.
Ian Kinsler is a lightning rod, but he is also a catalyst for this team. I for one am glad that he wears #5 for the Rangers and not for another team.
Patrick Despain is a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com
or on Twitter @ShutDownInning