9 Up 9 Down – Week 2
The Rangers finished the week with a 3-3 record while losing two of three to Boston and taking two of three from the Astros. During this six game stretch, the Rangers scored two or fewer runs in four of those contests including two 1-0 victories over the Astros at home. That is the first time since 1982 that they have had two 1-0 victories, at home, in a single series. The Rangers struggled to hit with runners in scoring position going 9 for 62 for a .145 average and stranding 47 runners on base. Ouch. Things ended on a sour note as the Rangers placed Adrian Beltre on the 15 day DL with a strained quadriceps muscle.
Texas will continue their 10 game home-stand with the opening of a four game set against the Seattle Mariners today and then finish up with a three game series with the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers are 25-13 against Seattle at home since 2010 but just 11-8 the last two seasons. After committing eight errors in the first week of the season, the Rangers committed just three errors in their last six games, something they desperately needed to get cleaned up. Colby Lewis will get his first start for Texas since 2012 as he continues his comeback attempt from hip replacement surgery and flexor tendon surgery.
This week’s Ranger of the Week is leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo. Choo hit .320 for the week with three extra base hits, nine walks and an on base percentage of .500. Choo has been on base every game this season except for two and has had multiple games of being on base at least four times. Choo has had a walk off walk and has scored the game winning run on a walk off hit. His presence at the top of the lineup is what the Rangers have been lacking the last several seasons.
Hometown product Michael Choice got his first home run as a big leaguer this week and it came in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game against the Astros, a game in which the Rangers would wind up losing in 10 innings. Nonetheless, this is a homerun that Choice will never forget.
Ranger Danger – Yu Darvish – Darvish has made two starts this season and has an ERA of 0.00. Darvish hasn’t allowed a run in 15 innings and has 15 strikeouts to go with it. Darvish has worked back to back to starts of 7+ innings but the Rangers offense has zero runs of support while Yu is on the mound so far.
Stranger Ranger – Prince Fielder – Fielder continues to struggle through the first two weeks of the season. He’s hitting just .149 on the season with no home runs and just three RBI. His presence is felt however as the Astros issued intentional walks to Fielder on three separate occasions over the last weekend series.
Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, is a 6′-2″ right handed pitcher who was orginally drafted in 2010 by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round. Gonzalez decided he could do better and went to college at Oral Roberts where he developed the pitch that has wowed scouts since his sophomore season – the cutter. That pitch was a big reason why the Rangers broke away from their normal drafting procedure of being reluctant of drafting college players and took Chi Chi in the first round of the 2013 draft.
Gonzalez has three pitches in his repertoire, a fastball with natural cutting action, a hard slider which is considered a power pitch, and he is developing a changeup. His slider and changeup are considered average with good swing and miss potential but it’s his plus fastball that really gets the scouts buzzing. Some scouts have even said that his fastball gets so much natural cutting action, that it appears that he throws two distinct sliders. If you have a plus fastball that cuts in on right handed hitters and can make it hit the mid 90’s, well then by all means good sir, have a spot a big league rotation.
After being drafting in 2013, Gonzalez was immediately assigned to short season Spokane where he struggled a bit out of the gate. He appeared in nine games throwing 23.2 innings and giving up 16 runs (12 earned) on 30 hits for a 4.56 ERA. What Gonzalez didn’t do however, was give up the long ball with only one homer given up during that time. Despite his rough start in Spokane, the Rangers decided to give him a promotion, skip Low A Hickory, and go straight to High A Myrtle Beach.
Once a Pelican, Gonzalez dazzled in his short time on the Beach. He appeared in five games throwing 19 innings, giving up eight runs (six earned) on 15 hits for a much improved 2.84 ERA. Gonzalez was missing bats more often as opponents’ WHIP was 1.26 vs a 1.56 in Spokane. Overall, his first season as a professional was successful despite throwing just 42.2 innings for the entire season.
Chi Chi began the 2014 season at High A Myrtle Beach and there was actually some talk that he could break camp with thee AA Frisco RoughRiders and be in their starting rotation. The Rangers ultimately decided that he needed more work at High A but most still believe that he will be in Frisco sooner rather than later, some have even predicted as early as July. His season so far has gotten off to a shaky start posting an ERA of 4.00 through his first two starts but don’t let the short sample size results fool you, this kid will rise through the system quickly and could see some big league action in late 2015.
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The game of baseball is evolving into plethora of analytics and advanced stats. As fans, casual and hardcore alike, we need to stay abreast of the new terminology that is being used by analysts, experts and even the players themselves. Here are two Sabermetric terms to get us on the evolving path.
wOBA – Weighted On-Base Average is one of the most important and popular catch-all offensive statistics, it is used to measure a hitter’s overall offensive value, based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event.
wOBA is based on a simple concept: Not all hits are created equal. Batting average assumes that they are. On-base percentage does too, but does one better by including other ways of reaching base. Slugging percentage weights hits, but not accurately (Is a double worth twice as much as a single? In short, no). On-base plus slugging (OPS) does attempt to combine the different aspects of hitting into one metric, but it assumes that one percentage point of SLG is the same as that of OBP. In reality, a handy estimate is that OBP is around twice as valuable than SLG (the exact ratio is x1.8).
Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.
DRS – Defensive Runs Saved is a defensive statistic calculated by The Fielding Bible, an organization run by John Dewan, that rates individual players as above or below average on defense. Much like UZR, players as measured in “runs” above or below average, and Baseball Info Solutions data is used as an input.
The full explanation of how DRS is calculated is a tad complicated — see this FAQ page for more detailed information — but in simple terms:
“…as I understand it, the numbers determines (using film study and computer comparisons) how many more or fewer successful plays a defensive player will make than league average. For instance, if a shortstop makes a play that only 24% of shortstops make, he will get .76 of a point (1 full point minus .24). If a shortstop BLOWS a play that 82% of shortstops make, then you subtract .82 of a point. And at the end, you add it all up and get a plus/minus.” (Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated)
(Sabermetric terms courtesy of www.fangraphs.com)
Today marks the return of one of the postseason heroes for your Texas Rangers: Colby Lewis. Colbra, as he is known to most Rangers fans, will toe the hill tonight for the first time since July 18th, 2012; a game in which Lewis left after five innings due to some pain in his elbow. Lewis would go on to miss the rest of 2012 after flexor tendon surgery.
Lewis would return to the mound in 2013 for five rehab starts for the Frisco RoughRiders and two starts for the Round Rock Express, the Rangers AA and AAA affiliate, respectively. The results weren’t very good. He had an ERA of around 8.00 in about 24 innings. Lewis would be shutdown yet again – this time due to pain in his his lower back/hip area.
Lewis decided to have hip replacement surgery to repair the nagging hip problems that have been plaguing him for several years. This decision ended his 2013 season and it appeared that it could end his career. At the age of 33, having major elbow surgery AND hip replacement surgery, there was no way that Colby Lewis could return to the mound and pitch at the major league level could he?
Colby Lewis made four starts in 2014 spring training totaling 12 hits and eight runs in just nine innings. The results weren’t what Texas was paying attention to however. It was the fact that Lewis was able to get back out on the mound and throw in games and feel good afterwards. Lewis made one rehab start for AAA Round Rock and pitched five innings giving up four hits and four runs. A clause in Lewis’ contract required him to be on a major league roster by April 10th or he could ask for his unconditional release. Lewis will get that chance tonight, at home, against the Seattle Mariners.
Tonight, Lewis makes his remarkable return to the diamond after being away for nearly two full years. At the end of the day, we all hope that Lewis succeeds, but let’s be honest here, even if he doesn’t return to the form that made him a postseason hero, we can all agree that what he has done and the fight that he has shown, has been nothing short of spectacular and remarkable. Whether or not Lewis can return and help the Rangers with their plethora of pitching injuries remains to be seen but one thing that stands true for Colbra –
Welcome back Colby. We missed you.