First Half Report Cards – Part 2
It’s (still) the All Star break and now is the perfect time for the Rangers midterm report cards! Over the next few days, Shutdown Inning will be looking at key Rangers and evaluating their 2015 thus far.
Who Qualifies: Ranger bats with 50 or more plate appearances and pitchers with more than 30 innings pitched were considered for report cards.
How Are They Graded: The player’s performance is compared to the performance of players in the same position as well as throughout the MLB. A player’s performance between the 2012 and 2014 seasons is also considered but does not weigh heavily on the final grade. It’s about 2015 after all! Finally, these are objective grades. Nostalgia, emotion and expectations are not taken into account. None of these win games.
Brought in right before the season, Wandy Rodriguez has been a pleasant, if average, surprise. One of his biggest challenges this season has been his home vs. away splits, with his weak home results weighing on his production. Similar to Colby Lewis, he has been hit hard at a rate noticeably higher than average but he has done well to keep his HR/9 under modest control. Wandy has also found a good ability in striking out batters in 2015, placing about average for the league and improving significantly over his 3 year average. As a 3rd or 4th starter in the second half of the year, Wandy will provide satisfactory value if he is able to maintain this production, if not better.
Nick Martinez started 2015 with a club leading record and one of the best ERAs in the league. In time, though, his peripherals caught up with him, especially later in the first half. xFIP has never truly been kind to Martinez and that continued in 2015 where he had one of the largest xFIPs among all MLB starters. His ERA, however, was quite good for much of the first half and a considerable improvement over his 2014 results. 2015 also saw slight improvements in strike outs and walks, although these numbers were still below average compared to other starters in the league. Despite being optioned at the beginning of July, he could very likely be back after the All Star break with some extra rest under his belt. The question upon return is if Nick can continue to beat expectations or will his production catch up to his advanced metrics?
Robinson Chirinos is a player of peaks and valleys in 2015. His on base and power have seen improvement while his AVG has tanked (as much as one can tank from a 0.234 AVG over the last three years). Among catchers with 50 plate appearances, Chirinos has one of the best Isolated Power results in 2015. He gets the job done and, while not elite, offers above-average defense and offense for a player in his position.
Delino DeShields Jr.
The surprise. The total, come out of nowhere surprise. When Delino DeShields was picked in the Rule 5 Draft, no one knew what to expect. What the Rangers got, though, is probably light years beyond their best case scenario for DeShields in 2015. Showing good AVG and OBP numbers coupled with elite level base running, DeShields has become an offensive threat…which is something of a rare treat for a Rangers outfielder this year. In centerfield his results show a polar opposite to Leonys Martin defensively, but his production at the plate and on the bases earns DeShields a strong midyear score.
Anthony Bass drew the long reliever straw in 2015 and, by all measures, has been successful. Coming off of two horrible seasons, Bass’s 3.74 xFIP bring hope that his 4.15 ERA will improve this year. While he has not been one to draw strike outs at an appreciable rate he has done well to limit his walks. What has been really impressive is his ability to avoid hard hits, seeing a big improvement over his three year result of 28.50% hard hits and exceeding the league average by a good bit. One of the few consistent presences in the bullpen this year, Bass bring some stability and you hope he continues to see improvement in the second half of the season in back-up to the starting rotation.