Checking The Guessing Game, Part 2
Adrian Beltre: on pace for 36 home runs. Over/Under on 36
My Prediction: 36. I hope his legs get rested up; but, if they are still problematic, that may pose a problem with him generating consistent long ball power.
As he prepares for his age 35 season, he will still be called upon to be a big bat in the lineup for 2014. Discussions about decline and age will certainly continue, which is fair leading up to a player’s age 35 season. It will be interesting to see how he handles the upcoming season, especially with no Mike Olt or Michael Young to help fill in to give him rest or cover in case of injury. Wash may also be prompted to say “no” just a few more times and not let him talk his way back into the lineup on a rest day. Here’s hoping he keeps doing great Beltre things and can stay healthy and locked in next season.
Ian Kinsler: on pace for a 5.1 WAR. Over/Under on 5.1
My Prediction: 5.5. He was finally back in somewhat of a consistent hitting groove. He’ll be rested and healthy, so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly he comes out of the gate at the plate and on the bases.
When the season kicked off, it looked like Kinsler was on his way to hitting well again and had corrected some of the small foibles in his swing. May 18th saw Kinsler put on the DL; upon his return a month later, he was expected to reignite the offense and get them going again. He would go through good hitting streaks here and there, but he never really got back to the consistency of the beginning of the season. Also, there’s his presence on the base paths, which looked worse near the end then it did at the beginning. His defense stayed on par with his usual numbers, and he showed no major signs of trouble when he returned from the DL or going forward.
Kinsler’s injury hampered an interesting start to a 2013 reemergence. It got to a point where one could just count how many occurrences of #IKPU there were on Twitter to know if Kinsler’s bat was going well or not, instead of checking Fangraphs for his updated WAR number. He ended the season at 2.5 WAR, which means the Rangers are better with him than without. Barring injury… they could have probably been a little bit better.
Yu Darvish: on pace for 14 wins on the season. Over/Under on 14
My Prediction: 17-8; he’ll come back strong and unified with AJP and Soto, much like last season.
It’s been said that a starting pitcher’s second year is usually a rough one because hitters adjust to them and the learning curve is at its fiercest. The “Almost Perfect” Darvish ended his season with a 13-9 record over 32 games started, but don’t let the record fool you. This was the same pitcher who had “lost” 4 games 1-0 and was also handed a small handful of no decisions as well. There were games when his command was clearly just off and it was a bad day for a great pitcher. Also, that 13-9 record brought with it a 2.83 ERA and 277 strikeouts. It may not seem like it, but his ER total went from 83 in 2012 to 66 in 2013, and yes, that was with a noticeable spike in home runs yielded. Summary: Darn those 26 pesky home runs! How inconvenient for a pitcher of his caliber.
Some recent news puts a much different light on the way Darvish concluded his season. It was revealed that he was dealing with sciatica, a nerve condition that causes intense pain around the gluteal area, which can spread all the way down to the feet. As it turns out, he would get to a point where his right left would feel almost completely numb, which was called “cramping” in the explanations given to the public. For him to decline an injection during the season, simply because it would cause him to miss a start, suggests we have among us a player dedicated to doing his best for this club at all times. Granted, he will still have bad days (as we all will from time to time), but I feel less inclined to question his dedication or toughness again.
The new baseball season is a few months away, but these three will still have the usual high expectations placed on them come late February. I expected they will show up in the spring in good, full health, ready to contribute and lead the 2014 squad on the field. Thanks for participating in the original post and for reading the follow ups. Go Rangers!