Position of Power

Mitch
It does not take an expert on positional value to see that the Rangers’ lineup has some holes at some frustrating positions. And it’s no secret that David Murphy and Mitch Moreland are having a rough year, and that Lance Berkman is quickly falling apart in what will likely be the last year of his baseball career.
In the case of Lance Berkman’s absence/limited role, there is a silver lining. This has given the club the opportunity to shift rookie Jurickson Profar around the field while resting the regulars or simply giving them a day in the DH role.

The down side has been a seeming lack of production in three positions that generally produce high offensive numbers.

One way I like to look at offense sometimes is using Bill James’ “run created” statistic ((H+BB)*(TB)/(AB+BB)).  It isn’t the absolute best statistic out there for measuring offense, but it’s relatively easy to calculate, especially when working with a limited set of statistics for a given query. Here are the AL league averages for each position in terms of runs created:

Picture

A bit surprising is the league average for centerfielders in the American League, which ranks as the second most productive position by this measure.

Of course, this is far from telling the entire story. For one, Leonys Martin is a rookie, and the DH position has mostly been rotated among regulars, allowing for another rookie to play three infield positions.

While the Rangers will certainly be willing to allow Leonys Martin to continue to grow into his position, they may have less patience towards their first baseman, left fielder, and designated hitter.

Cumulative Stats for 1B+LF+DH by Team

Picture

The Rangers left fielders, first basemen, and designated hitters have combined for a slash of .239/.306/.409 (these are the cumulative stats of the players playing these positions on any given night, not simply those of Berkman, Murphy and Moreland).  The Rangers have accumulated only 196 RBIs from these three positions, lowest in the American League of any team not located in Seattle. Bill James’ “runs created” formula ranks the Rangers’ trio as third worst in the AL, better than only New York and Houston.

Now, compare the bottom of any team’s order versus their respective positions and you will likely create a similar result, but 27 RC under the league average at three positions generally occupied by run creators can be somewhat frustrating.

What can the Rangers do about it? Not much in the short term, at least until Nelson Cruz is available come playoff time. But in the long term, left field, first base and a designated hitter should be high on the priority list in terms of player acquisitions.

Robert Pike is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Robert.Pike@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @Bob_Pike.
Robert Pike

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.