The Missing Pieces
I see people grasping for arguments to explain who to blame for what has happened the season, and it frustrates me because this isn’t anyone’s fault. Sometimes you have bad luck. Sometimes you have the worst luck. Sometimes in life and in baseball, it isn’t anyone’s fault. I don’t think it’s right to blame JD, Wash, or anyone else in the organization. If anything, whatever success we have throughout the rest of this season should be a testament to how good of a job they have done assembling and managing this team. The fact that our farm system is stocked with guys like Rougned Odor, Nick Tepesch, and Nick Martinez who can come up and produce when we need them is certainly a luxury that not many other teams enjoy.
This is far from an exact representation of the production that we could have expected from these guys, however the goal was to show what their production has been in previous seasons where they’ve been in the role they were expected to play in 2014. While Matt Harrison was most likely not going to be a 5 WAR pitcher in 2014, Martin Perez seemed to be on course to improve upon a lot of his numbers from 2013. We don’t know exactly when Martin’s injury occurred and how it impacted his last few starts or possibly skewed his numbers.
It’s no secret that the lineup hasn’t been producing runs at the rate that we expected. If Fielder’s neck has been bothering him for the entire season then that would help to partially explain his struggles. His struggles with outside pitches would seem to suggest that he was struggling with bat speed, which could be related to the neck problem. While Profar’s numbers last season might not make it seem as though he would be a big loss, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a nice step forward from him with consistent playing time at the same position and ABs. His numbers in the minors showed that he tended to struggle when he was initially promoted to the next level, but he always made the necessary adjustments to succeed.
In addition to these guys being out or potentially injured, the Rangers have also lost some productive replacements in Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jim Adduci. Kouzmanoff really helped carry the Ranger offense while Beltre was on the DL, hitting .362/.412/.617 over 13 games in 2014. It’s easy to forget Beltre spent a stint on the 15-day DL because of how effective he was.
In addition to having so many injuries to guys who were expected to play big roles this season, there have also been some players who haven’t lived up to what we’ve come to expect from them over the course of their careers. Below is a chart that shows the pace that a few notable hitters are on in 2014 compared to their career numbers (these numbers were calculated before the offensive explosion in 3 of the 4 games of the Detroit series).
The reality of this whole situation is that baseball is unpredictable. No one could have seen these injuries coming, nor could they have seen Beltre and Rios struggling to put up the power numbers we’ve come to expect from them over the course of their careers. When you are one of two teams that have won 90+ games for four straight seasons, eventually some bad luck is going to catch up with you (things aren’t necessarily going well for the Tampa Bay Rays, either). This team is still very well built and set up for success. The good thing about being the unluckiest is that it doesn’t last forever. Chin up, Rangers fans.