Answering The Questions You Kinda Had: The SDI Search Term Mailbag

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland throws against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One of SDI’s mission statements is informing and educating the Ranger fan base. We do our best bringing you trade analysis, prospect write ups, history lessons, even analytical breakdowns of players. We try keeping it topical, but at the same time we tend to miss things. We’re not psychics and sometimes you, the fine SDI reader, has questions we haven’t addressed.

So I decided making an outward effort to answer those questions was necessary. After all, if we’re not serving the general interest at large what are we really doing with our time?

Which means it’s mailbag time. Where readers could let us know what they want to read about, and I’d give them some information. You’re saying “But Samuel, you never asked for any questions.”

I didn’t have to.

Our search history is full of stuff people have searched for on our website. Some of it they found, some of it they didn’t. I chose a few we hadn’t written about, and off I went. It’s a smorgasbord of topics, some questions some not. Hopefully we’ll be able to help some people.

So, let’s get started!

(Again I want to reiterate: Every topic in this article has been searched on the website at least once. I didn’t make any of them up.)

1. what’s wrong with Derek Holland

Might as well get this one out of the way.

There’s a couple of ways to take this question. In the literal sense, Holland is on the 60 day DL with an injury to his throwing shoulder. He’s eligible to come off August 21st. From all accounts, Holland is improving. He’s throwing again with the intent of coming off the DL when he’s first eligible.

I’m guessing this isn’t what the searcher wanted however. Looking at Dutch’s numbers in 2016, several concerning areas emerge. While he never was a Yu Darvish type strikeout pitcher, his Ks per 9 has dropped from 8.48 in 2010 to 5.33 in 2016. His walks per 9 are also the highest they’ve been since 2010.

All of this has a simple explanation: His pitches aren’t as good as they used to be.

Fangraphs has a metric called Pitch Values(Pitch Type Linear Weights is the official name). This is the long form explanation of what the statistic is:

You’ll notice that there are two different types of Pitch Type Linear Weights: total runs by pitch (which is shown as wFB, wSL, wCB, etc.) and standardized runs by pitch (shown as wFB/C, wSL/C, wCB/C, etc.). The first category is the total runs above average that a hitter has contributed against that pitch or total runs saved by a pitcher using that pitch. However, it is tough to compare these total numbers since hitters see different amounts of each pitch. The second category corrects for this, standardizing the values on a “per 100 pitch” basis. In other words, when you see wFB/C, that represents the average amount of runs that hitter produced against 100 fastballs thrown.

In baseball blogger terms: the higher the number, the more runs the pitch saved. The lower(or negative) the number, the more runs hitters drove in when hitting that pitch.

So now that you’re either sufficiently informed or confused, here’s Holland’s 2016 pitch values. I’m using standardized as to lower the numbers, giving a more well rounded picture.

FB: 0.04

SL: -0.78

CB: -0.24

CH: -1.35

So three pitches, including the slider Holland formerly used to get hitters out, are in the negatives. His fastball is his most thrown pitch, so it remains positive by virtue of large sample size. It stands to reason that a player who has ineffective pitches will be ineffective. The hope is his return from shoulder problems will alleviate this problem. Time will tell on that, but if the Holland that returns is more the same, that hope could be misguided.

Onto the next topic…

2. did nolan ryan go in hof as ranger or astro

That’s a fair question. Ryan was a big time contributor for both Texas and Houston, in addition to the then California Angels. To answer this question, let me just call Cooperstown…

Yeah hi Baseball Hall of Fame?

Yeah could you fax me over a photo of Nolan Ryan’s HOF plaque?

Yes, fax. There’s no other way to send photos of things anymore.

You will? Thanks.

Now we’ll just wait for that fax to come across…y’all having a good day today? Good.

Here it is!

Mystery solved! The Ryan Expressed entered the Hall as a Texas Ranger. Another victory for the Rangers over Houston.

What’s next?

3. who was the texas rangers 5th starter in 2012

2012: A forgettable year for some, a year others wish they could forget. Everyone remembers the stretch collapse, culminating in a sweep at the hands of Oakland to give the As a division title. Most remember the Josh Hamilton meltdown, in a contract year no less. Texas’ season was ended by future Ranger great Joe Saunders and the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card game.

But moving onto the actual question, the answer isn’t clear. Texas had six pitchers who made 10 starts or more in 2012. If you say it’s which pitcher started the 5th most games, congratulations your 5th starter is Colby Lewis. Prefer which starter accrued the most WAR over the season? Prepare for disappointment, as Ryan Dempster takes the crown. Starter ERA your forte? Too bad! It’s a tie between Dempster and Scott Feldman.

Know who it wasn’t? Roy effing Oswalt, who spared this thing to death with a 5.80 ERA in 59 innings that year. To give you an idea of how bad he was: Oswalt accumulated -0.2 WAR with the Rangers. In one inning of work that season, OUTFIELDER Craig Gentry generated -0.1 WAR.

Think about that for a moment.

Onto the next one.

4. doug rader

Full disclosure: This search is the reason why I wanted to do this piece. For whatever reason, this name comes up every couple of weeks in our search results. I had never heard of him before, but it was appearing frequently enough that I made it my mission to learn more about this person.

Some basic facts about the man:

  • He played for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and Toronto Blue Jays in a career spanning 1967-1977
  • His nickname was “The Red Rooster” or “Rojo” because of his red hair
  • He won five straight Gold Gloves at third base from 1970-1974
  • He became a manager after his playing career ended, which included a stop in Texas. His first season the team in 1983 was 77-85, which was a 14 game improvement(somehow) on the previous season. It didn’t last, as the team regressed to 69-92 in 1984, before Rader was fired in 1985 after starting 9-23.

If you’d like more about Doug Rader, and who doesn’t, our resident historian Joe Stroop put this together on him a year ago or so. It’s pretty well comprehensive, as is everything Joe puts out on Rangers team history. May this lay to rest the mystery of Doug Rader.

We’ve got time for one more question…

6. what does the trade mean for rua

So Ryan Rua‘s status is in limbo post Carlos Beltran/ Jonathan Lucroy trades. Rua was seeing time in left field, but now Jurickson Profar and Beltran will likely split the time there. Same for DH, which is where the 39 year old ex-Yankee seems the best fit. Rua can still play 1st when they want a righty instead of Mitch Moreland, but even Moreland has started surging recently.

This falls under the “Problems you like to have” category. When a team is asking “What do I do with all these quality hitters I want to give at bats to,” that means the overall situation is strong. Rua’s versatility likely keeps him in the majors, but it’s doubtful his name makes the lineup card much the last two months. Which isn’t a knock on him, just a casualty of circumstance.

Thanks for taking a dive into the first ever SDI Search Term Mailbag. We’ll do these every so often, in the hopes of answering the questions you didn’t know you had. Kinda.

 

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Samuel Hale
When Samuel isn't displeasing you with his opinions about the Texas Rangers, he's trying to corral young broadcasters at UTA Radio. If you buy him pizza and high class chocolate milk, he'll probably be your best friend. Probably. He got to see Texas clinch a World Series berth in person, and sports cried when Pudge Rodriguez went into the Rangers Hall of Fame. He enjoys the Oxford comma and over tweeting.

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