9 Up 9 Down – Week 9

9up9down

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The Box Score

The week didn’t quite end the way the Rangers wanted it to, but as a whole, this road trip was a massive success. They finished the week with a 4-3 record, which may not sound like much, but when you take into account the entire road trip, it was a great success. The Rangers take three of four in Minnesota and salvage the finale of a three game set in Washington. The day games were once again a good friend to the Rangers who went 2-1 during the day last week and are now 7-1 in their last eight day games. Day games have been a foe of the Rangers in the past, but this season they seem to love playing in the day. I will take whatever we can get at this point.


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The On Deck Circle

The Rangers finally come back home after an 11 game, three city road trip – the longest of the season. They start the homestand with a three gamer against Nelson Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles. However, the Rangers may have caught a break and may not have to face Cruz as he was hit on the hand by a pitch and is listed as day to day. No word yet on if he will play in the series against the Rangers. The former Rangers Welcome Back Parade will continue through the weekend as the Rangers will welcome in David Murphy and the Cleveland Indians for a four game series. The Rangers are just 16-14 against the Orioles over the last four seasons including a 7-8 record at home. They fare better against the Indians 19-12 record and 10-5 at home also over the last four years.


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The Lone Ranger

The Lone Rangers is normally reserved for who I believe is the Ranger who contributes most throughout the week, this week however, the Lone Ranger is truly a LONE Ranger. Leonys Martin was the only Ranger to homer last week, ending the Rangers homer-less drought at 69 innings. His home run, after a failed hit and run, in Washington on Sunday was the first home run since Michael Choice hit one off Justin Verlander in the second inning LAST SUNDAY! Martin was the last guy any of us expected to be the one who ended the home run drought for Texas. Where has the power gone?

(MLB has not given out an embed code for this video so you can click here to see the Martin homerun)


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The Highlight Reel

Since I am in the mood of breaking away from the norm this week, lets keep it going and give the Highlight Reel to Myrtle Beach phenom Joey Gallo. Gallo could be the Rangers future 3rd basemen depending on what the Rangers decide to do with him. The guy has a massive swing and light tower power and by now, most of you have heard about his talent level. Well, Gallo had himself a two homer night including a grand slam, and well, you just need to watch this..


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Ranger DangerStranger Ranger

Ranger Danger – Chris Gimenez – Chris Gimenez is on fire right now. He slashed .438/.438/.625/1.063 last week and has become the personal catcher for Yu Darvish. We know that Gimenez will not keep this up as his career average is somewhere in the neighborhood of the Mendoza Line but we will ride this hot streak until it runs out of fuel. Gimenez has seven hits, three doubles, three RBI and three runs scored. With the possibility of Chirinos seeing more time at first base, Gimenez may see more time behind the dish in the coming weeks.

Stranger Ranger – Shin-Soo Choo – Choo has been hobbled by a bum ankle recently and that may have contributed to his very poor week. Choo slashed just .160/.222/.240/.462 with three more strikeouts. Choo needs to get back on track if the Rangers want to continue to stay afloat in the Wild Card race. He is the leader of the offense and they need him on base to make things happen.


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The Joey Gallo Watch

This is going to be a new feature that I employ that will allow you, the fan, to keep up with the Rangers most talk about prospect, Joey Gallo. The Gallo Watch will give you a weekly recap of what he has done along with interesting stats, news and all the information you need to impress your friends and fellow Rangers fans alike.

Season
.322/.461/.757/1.218 21HR 48RBI 50R 47BB 61K

Last 10 Games
.214/.463/.571/1.035 3HR 9RBI 6R 13BB 15K

Stats to Know
K Ratio 2012 – 2.71 (he struck out once every 2.71 at bats)
K Ratio 2013 – 3.77 (striking out once every 3.77 at bats)
Gallo leads all professional baseball with 21 home runs
Gallo had 50 walks in 467 PA last season. He has 47 walks in 230 PA this season
Gallo has grounded into just three double plays all year
Gallo is three years younger than the average player in the Carolina League

Don’t expect Gallo to spend a whole lot more time in Myrtle Beach as his inevitable promotion to AA Frisco seems to be on the horizon. Pitchers are pitching around Gallo more and more now with runners on base and he’s getting fewer and fewer pitches to hit. The jump from High A to AA is regarded as the largest jump talent wise in the minor league system. Frisco will be a huge test for Gallo to see if his new hitting approach is where it needs to be.


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Minor League Roundup

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 starts in just over one week! Get ready for some short season action in the Northwest.


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Hickory Crawdads (Low A) 28-27 –

Hickory finished up a pretty good week with a 7-1 win over Greenville yesterday. The Crawdads finished off the week with a 5-2 record, taking three of four from Greenville and two of three from Kannapolis. Hickory has gained some ground in the standings, sitting 8.5 games back but it may be too little too late as their first half elimination number is now at just six. Travis Demeritte has started to heat up for the ‘Dads, as he now has homers in three straight ball games including a pair of two run shots. Demeritte, while hitting just .234 on the season, is sporting a .278 average over his last 10 ballgames with a very nice .381 OBP and a .583 SLG. Demeritte now has 40 hits on the season with half of those being of the extra base variety – 12 homers, six doubles and two triples. The issue with Demeritte, as is for a lot of the Rangers prospects, is that he continues to strike out a lot. He has 67 strikeouts over 171 at bats in 50 games; compare that to just 18 walks.


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Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A) 37-17

Myrtle Beach continues to dominate the Carolina League and had a 6-0 week this past week and now have a comfortable 10.5 game lead over the Salem Red Sox. Overall, the Pelicans have won eight straight and are well on their way to winning the Carolina League Southern Division first half title. Myrtle Beach is defeating their opponents by more than three runs per game on average. The most impressive stat though, might be the fact that Myrtle Beach is an impressive 20-7 on the road this year. Chris Bostick, whom the Rangers received in the Craig Gentry trade, is slashing .294/.419/.500 over his last ten games with a homer, seven RBI and eight runs scored.


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Frisco RoughRiders (AA) 33-22

The RoughRiders, much like the Pelicans, are cruising right now. Frisco leads the Texas League at 33-22 and currently hold a 4.5 game lead over the other three teams in the division with a first half elimination number of 11. Frisco had an interesting time in Tulsa this past week with their Tuesday game being rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday. The original game scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled because of poor field conditions and will not be made up, the make-up game Tuesday was pushed to Thursday as part of a Thursday doubleheader. Both games on Thursday were finally played with Frisco taking both games by a combined score of 16-6. Frisco has done very well since losing top prospects Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas to the big league club. Ryan Rua, Tomas Telis and Jake Smolinksi continue to lead the offense while Luke Jackson and Alec Asher dominate opposing hitters.


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Round Rock Express (AAA) 26-31

Round Rock’s woes continued as they went just 2-5 last week including losing 3 in a row before salvaging the finale against New Orleans at home at the Dell Diamond. Round Rock now sits five games under .500 but only 4.5 games out of the PCL American Southern division lead. JP Arencibia, who was optioned to Round Rock a couple of weeks ago in favor of Chris Gimenez, is hitting very well so far. His slash line of .313/.365/.521 is amongst the team leaders, albeit in a short sample size. However, he has clubbed three homers, has nine RBI and 10 runs scored in the 13 games that he has played in. Compare that to just one home run and six RBI in 20 games at the big league level.


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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.

SIERA – Skill-Interactive ERA – is the newest in a long line of ERA estimators. Like it’s predecessors FIP and xFIP, SIERA attempts to answer the question: what is the underlying skill level of this pitcher? How well did they actually pitch over the past year? Should their ERA have been higher, lower, or was it about right?

But while FIP and xFIP largely ignore balls in play — they focus on strikeouts, walks, and homeruns instead — SIERA adds in complexity in an attempt to more accurately model what makes a pitcher successful. SIERA doesn’t ignore balls in play, but attempts to explain why certain pitchers are more successful at limiting hits and preventing runs. This is the strength of SIERA; while it is only slightly more predictive than xFIP, SIERA tells us more about the how and why of pitching.

Here’s what SIERA tells us:

Strikeouts are good…even better than FIP suggests. High strikeout pitchers generate weaker contact, which means they allow fewer hits (AKA have lower BABIPs) and have lower homerun rates. The same can be said of relievers, as they enter the game for a short period of time and pitch with more intensity.

Also, high strikeout pitchers can increase their groundball rate in double play situations. Situational pitching is a skill for pitchers with dominant stuff.

Walks are bad…but not that bad if you don’t allow many of them. Walks don’t hurt low-walk pitcher nearly as much as they hurt other pitchers, since low-walk pitchers can limit further baserunners. Similarly, if a pitcher allows a large amount of baserunners, they are more likely to allow a high percentage of those baserunners to score.

Balls in play are complicated. In general, groundballs go for hits more often than flyballs (although they don’t result in extra base hits as often). But the higher a pitcher’s groundball rate, the easier it is for their defense to turn those ground balls into outs. In other words, a pitcher with a 55% groundball rate will have a lower BABIP on grounders than a pitcher with a 45% groundball rate. And if a pitcher walks a large number of batters and also has a high groundball rate, their double-play rate will be higher as well.

As for flyballs, pitchers with a high flyball rate will have a lower Homerun Per Flyball rate than other pitchers.

Finally we have a stat that A) is accurate and predictive, and B) accounts for some of the complexity of pitching.

Context:

SIERA is on a similar scale to ERA, so any score that is a good ERA is also a good SIERA. Please note that the following chart is meant as an estimate, and that league-average SIERA varies on a year-by-year basis. To see the league-average ERA for every year from 2002 to the present, check the FanGraphs leaderboards.


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In general, relief pitchers have lower SIERA scores than starting pitchers. As a handy shortcut, a pitcher that switches from starting to the bullpen will on average see their SIERA drop by 0.37 points (and vice versa).

wRAA – Weighted Runs Above Average – measures the number of offensive runs a player contributes to their team compared to the average player. How much offensive value did Evan Longoria contribute to his team in 2009? With wRAA, we can answer that question: 28.3 runs above average. A wRAA of zero is league-average, so a positive wRAA value denotes above-average performance and a negative wRAA denotes below-average performance. This is also a counting statistic (like RBIs), so players accrue more (or fewer) runs as they play.

Calculating wRAA is simple if you have a player’s wOBA value: subtract the league average wOBA from your player’s wOBA, divide by the wOBA scale coefficient (1.26 for 2011), and multiply that result by how many plate appearances the player received.

The exact wOBA scale value varies on a year-to-year basis in order to set wOBA on the same scale as league-average OBP. Also, if you’re feeling ambitious, it’s possible to calculate wRAA using linear weights.

Context:

Please note that the following chart is meant as an estimate. No matter the year, this statistic will always have 0 wRAA as league-average.

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(Sabermetric terms, definitions, and explanations courtesy of www.fangraphs.com)

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Casey At Bat

I have been very open about my disdain for manager Ron Washington and his ability, or inability, to “manage” his rotation and late game situations. He seems to routinely shock all of us when it comes to using the bullpen, whether it’s using his “key pieces” in blowout games or not using those same key pieces when the game is on the line. Even the great Eric Nadel sometimes has a hard time figuring out what Washington is doing out there.

One thing that Wash has always been very good at, is coaching his team.  He can always get his team up and ready to play. The players love this guy, his coaches love this guy, the media loves this guy and for the most part, the fans enjoy his dugout dances and his catchy phrases he uses during interviews. Washington is now the winningest manager in Rangers franchise history, he is has also managed the most games as a Rangers manager, passing Bobby Valentine last week.

With that all being said, if the Rangers can continue to be competitive and stay in the AL West or the AL Wild Card race, there is zero reason that Ron Washington should not win manager of the year. He has continued to get his team up to play despite losing seemingly the entire 40 man roster to injuries at some point or another.

Four of the five projected starters are done for the year or have spent some time on the DL this season including Yu Darvish who has missed two starts due to a stiff neck. Martin Perez and Matt Harrison are done for the year, Colby Lewis started the season the DL, Derek Holland has yet to make a start, and the starting rotation has seen Scott Baker, Joe Saunders, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez in it and yet the Rangers are still over .500 and still in both the AL West and the Wild Card race.

Shin-Soo Choo is hobbled by a bum ankle, Prince Fielder is done for the year, Michael Choice hasn’t panned out the way the Rangers had hoped, Geovany Soto has yet to play a game this season, and JP Arencibia, the Rangers Opening Day catcher, has been optioned to AAA Round Rock. And yet the Rangers are over .500 and still in the postseason race.

I don’t know what it is about Ron Washington and what he does to get his players up to play every day, but whatever it is, it’s working. Ron Washington deserves to be Manger of the Year. Period

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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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