The Beltre Effect: Why It’s Too Early To Panic
There is no doubt that the Texas Rangers are struggling. After a month and half stretch that saw them go from 7 games under .500 to 6 games over .500, they have had their worst week of the season and head into a weekend series with Toronto having lost five straight games. Arguably the biggest and perhaps the only bright spot of the week for the Rangers was the return of Adrian Beltre. While he is still getting back into the swing of things (no pun intended), his presence in the lineup should give Rangers fans a great deal of hope.
The Rangers are 11-11 in the month of June due in large part to a lack of production from the offense. The honest truth is that the Rangers are lucky to have won 11 games this month and if it wasn’t for the starting pitching elevating their game to an extremely high, yet unsustainable level, it would be much worse. The Rangers’ rotation is starting to reveal their true colors and the bullpen has been just flat out bad. While help is on the way (Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison), there are no guarantees that any of them will pitch any better than the current group in the rotation. The Rangers also aren’t guaranteed to have all the right pieces fall into place to significantly upgrade their bullpen at the deadline. These realities mean that the Rangers’ offense desperately needs to regain the form they found in the month of May. With Beltre back in the mix, that is not only possible but likely.
In the month of May, the Rangers could do no wrong offensively. They scored 158 runs which equates to a whopping 5.26 runs per game. While several players contributed to this offensive onslaught, none had a greater impact than Adrian Beltre. There are two reasons why Beltre was so important: First of all, he caught fire at the plate and became a feared right-handed bat in the clean-up spot. Second of all, his offensive resurgence led directly to a month to remember for Prince Fielder.
Adrian Beltre’s line going into the month of May
Adrian Beltre’s line at the end of the month of May
After an extremely poor April, Adrian Beltre responded. Beltre had 36 hits for the month of May, which was good enough for a .292 batting average. He also connected for four home runs (including his 400th) with 11 extra-base hits overall. Beltre’s increased production at the plate also led to more runs as he knocked in 16 RBIs after a dismal April in which he had just 2. Beltre’s success meant that the Rangers had a legitimate threat behind Prince Fielder, something they were counting on coming out of spring training.
Adrian Beltre’s resurgence was exactly what Prince Fielder needed. Fielder was no slouch in the month of April and in fact was having a career year in terms of his approach at the plate. The lack of protection in the lineup, however, meant that Prince had very few good pitches to hit. This changed in the month of May as Beltre heated up. Pitchers had no choice but to pitch to Prince, and he took full advantage.
Fielder’s line going in to the month of May
Fielders line at the end of May
If hitting .333 in April wasn’t enough, Fielder clearly took his play to another level in May. Just take a moment and let this sink in:
In the month of May, Prince Fielder collected 46 hits and had a batting average of .377. Fielder hit 9 home runs and had 16 extra base hits overall while collecting a pedestrian 28 RBIs. 14 times, Fielder had a multi-hit game and just three times in May he was held without a hit. Fielder had four straight games in May where he collected at least three hits.
While a good deal of this success can be attributed to the fact that Prince Fielder is a straight up beast who was simply being straight up beastly, there is no doubt that Beltre’s success had a direct correlation. Fielder simply couldn’t get a good pitch to hit during April because pitchers gave him a steady dose of low and outside pitches. He did well just to collect hits, most of which were singles. All of the sudden, things changed and as pitchers no longer had the luxury of pitching around him to get to Beltre, Prince showed just how primed he was for a big year. He crushed everything and as a result had a month to remember.
However, just as quickly as Fielder’s success came, it took a seat along with Beltre when he went on the DL. With Beltre on the DL, the Rangers have had a steady diet of unproven clean up hitters and that has allowed pitchers to once again work around Prince Fielder, greatly diminishing his impact on the Rangers lineup.
Fielders current line through June 25
Through 20 games in June, Fielder has just 21 hits in 70 at bats. While this is still a .300 average, it’s nowhere near the .377 average he sported in May. Fielder has just 6 extra base hits with only one of those being a home run to go along with 9 RBIs. One notable statistic is that Fielder has walked 21 times in the month of June and 7 of those have been of the free-pass variety. This is evidence that teams have been more willing to put Fielder on than pitch to him. While Fielder has continued to hit, he has had no good pitches to hit, resulting in several singles or walks that have not been capitalized on.
Fielder was not the only player to struggle with Beltre out. The team has struggled to score and through the first 23 games in June have scored just 85 runs, a 3.7 run per game average. This is an alarmingly high 1.5 runs fewer per game than the team averaged in May. Furthermore, if you take out the 15 and 11 runs the Rangers scored on June 2nd and 13th respectively, their runs per game goes down to an abysmal 2.8 runs per game, almost 2.5 runs fewer than they averaged in May.
While other injuries to key figures like Josh Hamilton and Delino Deshields have impacted the Rangers’ lineup, no player has been missed more than Beltre. The numbers do not lie and they show that if Adrian Beltre can stay healthy and start hitting, things are sure to get better for the Rangers’ offense. A week from now, the Rangers will most likely have Delino Deshields back in the lead-off position with Hamilton, Beltre and Fielder to follow.
There Is Hope.
Rangers Fans: Don’t Panic Just Yet.