9 Up 9 Down – Week 3

9up9down

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The Box Score

The Rangers finished off a very productive home stand yesterday finishing the week with a 5-2 record against the Mariners and the White Sox. Overall, the Rangers finished the longest home stand of the season at 7-3 and have moved their overall record to 11-8. The final game at home yesterday, saw the Rangers fall 16-2 to the Pale Hose in an ugly game in which Robbie Ross Jr.’s scoreless innings streak was snapped at 17 innings. The offense finally broke out of the overall slump they were in, averaging more than six runs per game over the last seven days while hitting .307 as a team. Kevin Kouzmanoff saw his 10 game Rangers hitting streak come to an end but Leonys Martin has found a groove – hitting .400 with two triples, a home run and five RBI.


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On Deck Circle

We have our first West Coast Baseball of the season beginning tonight with a 9:05 start in Oakland and then moving on to Seattle for a weekend series with the Mariners. The Rangers are just 40-36 against Oakland since 2010 and 18-20 in Oakland in the same time frame. It’s no secret the Rangers have struggled in Oakland averaging fewer than four runs a game the last two seasons. We all know that A’s magic will be in full effect. On the back side of the trip, the Rangers are 52-28 against the Mariners including 24-14 in Seattle the last four years but are just 11-8 the last two seasons. The Rangers will play their next 12 games against AL West opponents which could go a long way in helping shape the division for Texas.


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The Lone Ranger

This weeks Lone Ranger has to be none other than Leonys Martin. The Cuban Missile was absolutely on fire last week hitting .400 with two triples and five RBI. The important part is when he did all the damage. He led off the 8th inning against Felix Hernandez with a triple that started the Rangers comeback. He then, had the game winning single in the bottom of the 9th to give the Rangers a comeback victory. Later in the week he fell a double short of the cycle against the White Sox while driving in four runs. Martin also did work with his glove making several spectacular plays in center field. (GIF courtesy of @nick_pants on twitter)


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Highlight Reel

This is an absolute no brainer for me. Young shortstop Luis Sardinas was called up late in the week to replace Jim Adducci who went on the DL with a broken finger. Sardinas got his first chance at the big league level having never played a game above the AA level. The Rangers were getting blown out Sunday against Chicago and Sardinas replaced Elvis Andrus and got his first big league at bat in the 8th inning…. Guess what happened next.. (GIF courtesy of @Kazuto_Yamazaki via twitter)


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Ranger Danger (HOT)Stranger Ranger (COLD)

Ranger Danger – Kevin Kouzmanoff – Kouzmanoff started his Rangers career with hits in his first 10 games, a streak that was snapped yesterday with an 0-4 performance. The 10 straight games with a hit to start his Rangers career was one game shy of the Rangers record. Kouzmanoff hit .345 last two home runs and eight RBI, filling in nicely for the injured Adrian Beltre and making teams pay for intentionally walking Prince Fielder to get to him.

Stranger Ranger – JP Arencibia – Let’s be honest, why is he still on this team? He is hitting .067 with just one extra base hit on the season. He has two errors, one passed ball and five wild pitches thrown by pitchers while he was behind the plate. He’s allowed five stolen bases and caught just one would be base stealer. I tried to warn you.


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Prospect spotlight

Luis Sardinas, a 20 year old shortstop, is the Rangers 3rd ranked prospect (if you don’t count Michael Choice) who made his major league debut yesterday in a 16-2 Rangers loss to the Chicago White Sox. Sardinas was a non-drafted free agent that the Rangers signed in July of 2011 out of Venezuela and is part of the plethora of middle infielders the Rangers have stock piled. He was drafted at the same time as Jurickson Profar but isn’t the talent that Profar is and hasn’t advanced as fast as Profar either.

Sardinas is a top 10 shortstop prospect in baseball with ++speed, +arm and +defense. He only has 42 games at the AA level hitting .250 with a home run and 20 RBI. I don’t really expect Sardi, as his teammates call him, to be a part of the Rangers plans moving forward because of the talent ahead of him at the major league level. Unless the Rangers decide to trade Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar turns out to be a bust, then the only way Sardinas fits into the Rangers plans would be as a utility infielder and a guy with his tools, is not a utility infielder.

Sardinas has gotten a slight reputation as being a little lazy when it comes to being in the field. Some people say that he is so gifted at defense, that he gets bored and stops trying at times. That could be why his fielding percentage throughout his minor league career is a paltry .941. He has committed 65 errors in 1109 chances.

Sardinas has good contact ability at the plate as evident by his .289 career batting average in the minors. With his ++speed, he is a threat to steal once he gets on base which is at about a 34% clip. Sardinas has almost no power and isn’t expected to develop any, even as he grows into his body. Sardinas could make it to the big league level on a regular basis at some point, but with Andrus and Profar holding down the fort, the Rangers can afford to be patient with the development of Luis Sardinas. After all, he is just 20 years old.


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Minor League Recap

This is the place to come for all your minor league updates. News, notes, records and updates, all in once place – right here. Be sure to click the team logo to visit their team page for more detailed information. (Team page will open in a new window)


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Spokane Indians (Short Season Class A) 0-0 – Season does not start until June. Click the team logo on the left to visit the Indians website.

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Hickory Crawdads (Low A) 8-8 – Hickory had an interesting week, having two games banged due to rain. They played yet another double header on Monday, their second of the season, both against Kannapolis, had an off day yesterday and their game on Saturday cancelled due to rain. Offense seems to be the big issues with Hickory so far, with eight of the regular position players hitting .250 or lower, seven of those are hitting under .235.

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Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A) 11-6 – The Pelicans went 5-2 this week despite losing the series to the Potomac Nationals, at home, to start the week off. They were rained out Friday but swept the double header on Saturday against the Wilmington Blue Rocks and then won the third game of the series Sunday. They will finish up the four game set tonight in Myrtle at 6:05CT. Highly touted prospect Joey Gallo is slashing .321/.423/732 with a ridiculous 1.155 OPS on the young season. The most impressive stat, Gallo doesn’t even lead the team in strikeouts!

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Frisco RoughRiders (AA) 11-5 – Frisco saw their franchise record 10 game winning streak snapped yesterday, losing to Corpus Christi 7-5. The RoughRiders did play their third double header of the young season on Monday taking both games and then sweeping the series against Arkansas and taking three of four from the Hooks to end the week. The Riders continue their eight game home-stand tonight against San Antonio at 7:05 local time.  Matt Harrison is a big reason why the Riders are where they are right now with a 1.60 ERA in three rehab starts. It appears that Harrison will return to the big league club this week at some point.

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Round Rock Express (AAA) 10-7 – Round Rock has hit a bump in the road this past week dropping three of four to and having two of their three games at Colorado Springs postponed due to cold and inclement weather. They rebounded nicely over the weekend to take the first two of a four game series against Iowa. Nick Tepesch leads the Express staff with a 3-1 record and a 2.45 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just six walks. Adam Rosales continues to struggle, posting a .196 average in 51 at bats.

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Sabermetric Terms

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.

wRC+ –  Weighted Runs Created Plus – measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average.  League average is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than league average. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so a 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average.

wRC+ is also park and league-adjusted, allowing one to to compare players who played in different years, parks, and leagues.  Want to know how Ted Williams compares with Albert Pujols in terms of offensive abilities?  This is your statistic.

Context:

Please note that the following chart is meant as an estimate, and that league-average wRC will vary from year to year. But as a general breakdown, this distribution works fine:

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UZR – Ultimate Zone Rating – is one of the most widely used, publicly available defensive statistics. The theory behind UZR is tougher to intuitively grasp than Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), but the simplified version is that UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof). There are a couple different components to UZR, including:

● Outfield Arm Runs (ARM) – The amount of runs above average an outfielder saves with their arm by preventing runners to advance.
● Double-Play Runs (DPR) – The amount of runs above average an infielder is in turning double-plays.
● Range Runs  (RngR) – Is the player an Ozzie Smith or an Adam Dunn? Do they get to more balls than average or not?
● Error Runs (ErrR) – Does the player commit more or fewer errors compared with a league-average player at their position?

The run values in each of these categories are then compiled into one overall defensive score, UZR. Since UZR is measured in runs, it can be compared easily with a player’s offensive contributions (wRAA).

For the details on how UZR is calculated — i.e. how we can attach a run value to defensive events — seethe FanGraphs UZR Primer.

Context:

Since defensive statistics are still relatively new, they should not be taken as 100% dead accurate. Before drawing any conclusions about a player’s defense, look at a full three years of defensive data, drop the decimal points and take an average, and compare UZR scores with other defensive metrics (DRS, TZL, etc.). By taking a broader picture, you will help ensure that you’re not being over-confident or overstating a player’s defensive abilities.

In general, UZR scores can be broken down into the following tiers. This is a good shorthand way of evaluating a player’s defensive ability level:

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(Sabermetric terms courtesy of www.fangraphs.com)

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Casey At Bat

Growing up as a kid, most boys, and some girls, spend a lot of time in their backyards playing catch with their father with aspirations of one day playing for their hometown team. Even when Dad has to work late or is too tired to play, the boys are outside tossing the ball up to themselves setting the stage before the toss – bottom 9th, bases loaded, two outs and a full count in Game 7 of the World Series.

Here’s the pitch, HE HITS IT DEEP, THAT BALL IS GONE!!!

No matter how far the young man hit the ball, it was gone. The outcome doesn’t change in the dream, it’s always the constant within the boys thoughts, no matter how old he gets.

There is something about a boy, his glove and his bat. Every young man experiences this, some fulfill their dream while others abandoned it rather quickly. The ones that stick with it, there is no better feeling in the world to them than getting their first hit, catching their first fly ball or scoring their first run. It’s what keeps them coming back. The smiles on their faces make everything worth it to them, and the people that have helped them along the way.

I coach a 14U baseball team and I have a young man that has struck out in every at bat of every game we have played so far this season – until last week. He hit a little nubber back to the pitcher and was thrown out before he made halfway to first base. He didn’t care and neither did his teammates or his coaches.

He made contact.

He ran all the way to first base with a smile on his face as big as the Texas sky. The entire dugout exploded with cheers, the parents overwhelmed with excitement and you would think that the kid just hit a walk off home run. When he returned to the dugout, still smiling, he was greeted to congratulations from all the players –

“Way to make contact!”

“Good job!”

All the tears, all the anger was completely abolished from his memory with a simple hit of the baseball, all of 20 feet.

People ask me why I coach despite not having any kids of my own, and the answer is simple.

The smile, the excitement and the look of satisfaction from that young man is why I coach. I coach to make a difference in someone’s life, even if it is just hitting a baseball 20 feet.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

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