Super Sub Baker
Though the Rangers have been floundering in the absence of Ian Kinsler (9-10 since he landed on DL), there are some surprises on this team and possibly none bigger than utility player Jeff Baker. With David Murphys’ struggles this season, the sight of Baker has been welcomed by all.
Heading into Sunday’s action, Murphy had the second lowest OPS (.645) among qualified left fielders in MLB. Only Miami’s Juan Pierre (.577) is worse. For a guy coming off a career year in which he hit .304/.380/.479, expectations were that Murph would regress, but nothing to this extreme. Of course, Murph is notorious for heating up as the season progresses.
|Murphy’s career OPS by month:
Jeff Baker the “Homerun Maker” has hit .329/.400/.697 with eight homeruns in 35 games (85 plate appearances). Though the Rangers had a relatively quiet offseason, when Baker was signed on Jan. 26, it was still barely a blip on the radar. He was coming off a season in which he played 83 games with the Cubs, Tigers and Braves, and only managed to hit .239/.279/.378 with four homeruns. A very pedestrian 2012 season led to a minor league deal with the Rangers with an opportunity to compete for the utility role. In Spring Training, Baker hit .424/.460/542 in 63 plate appearances warranting him a spot on the major league club.
It’s not just that “Homerun Maker” rhymes with Baker, but the moniker sticks because his eight homeruns in 76 ABs means he is averaging a home run every 9.5 ABs. See where that ranks among the other MLB sluggers:
Entering Sunday’s action HR/AB:
|As great as Baker has been for the Rangers, his success comes from obliterating LHP. For his career, Baker hits .301/.353/.526 against LHP while hitting .240/.291/.364 vs. RHP. In 2013, he is hitting .381/.480/.952 against lefties and .265/.286/.382 vs. righties. Baker is the ultimate platoon guy that is a valuable weapon coming off the bench. There is an argument for Baker being this offseason’s best value acquisition.
Either way, he’s no longer a blip on the radar.