What Went Wrong In 2014

Fielder
*Part 1 of a 5 part Series*
This off-season can’t get here soon enough.Simply put, this season has been a bust. The excitement and high expectations we, the fans, felt in the spring have since been deflated and crushed as summer comes to a close. As the season thankfully wanes and the off-season is fast approaching (not fast enough), I want to examine and analyze my five reasons that caused this season to turn so bad, so quickly. Over the next few weeks I will look a little closer at each of these five and whether or not we can expect improvement in 2015.

This week I want to get the obvious out of the way and discuss the injuries that this team endured during the ’14 campaign.

Reason #1: INJURIES 
The injuries this team and management have had to deal with this season have been historic. According to Pro Sports Transactions the Texas Rangers have placed 24 players on the disabled list, which is the most in the majors this season. The signs should have been obvious early on that this season was doomed when, before we even got to the month of April, the Rangers had placed seven players on the disabled list (Holland, Harrison, Profar, Ortiz, Soto, and E. Beltre). The Texas Rangers this season have endured such an extreme number of injuries it’s only logical to assume that next season should improve by simply adding these pieces back into the lineup. A team can survive with a few key injuries throughout the grind of the 162-game season, but certain combinations of injuries or prolonged injuries to the pitching staff spell certain doom to a team’s chances of competing for a playoff spot. Below is a snapshot of the current Rangers on the disabled list from CBS Sports:

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When the roster was taking shape this winter, the pitching rotation looked like it would be Darvish, Holland, Harrison, Perez, and several others fighting it out for the fifth spot. The fact that the first four names in that rotation are currently on the disabled list tells you all you really need to know about why this team is sitting where they are in the standings. Sprinkle in Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, and key bullpen pieces in Scheppers and Ogando, winning games this summer became an insurmountable challenge. In comparison, the Texas Rangers in 2013 sent only 19 players to the disabled list and that includes three different stints by Alexi Ogando.It wasn’t just the pitching staff that was ravished by injuries, looking at the projected starting lineup before spring training began; the injury bug hit all parts of the clubhouse. Below is a list of the projected starter heading into the season and then who actually ended up playing the majority of the games at that position instead:

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*There have been so many players at 1B this season; it’s such a skewed position for this table.  

With so many different players occupying first base this season, the numbers are more spread out across the roster, thus decreasing the overall positional value for the Rangers this season. While the injuries to the pitching staff is the most significant injury to this roster, not having any consistent production at 1B is a close second, in my opinion.

Below is the list of all players who have occupied that position and the number of games this season:

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As you can see, 10 different players have played 1B this season, compare that to 2013 when only seven players were there and that includes Rosales and Adduci playing one game each. In 2012 the Rangers only used five different first basemen and only four in 2011. The Rangers spent the off-season addressing the lack of a power-hitting first baseman that this ballclub had lacked for several seasons, but with the injury to Prince it will be 2015 before we get a chance to see how he can affect this offense.Who Should Be Healthy in 2015?

 While it’s fair to write off this season to the rash number of injuries this team has had, is it fair to assume that 2015 will be better just because of who will be back?

Below are the players that should be healthy when the season starts next spring:

Alexi Ogando, Tanner Scheppers, Derek Holland, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, Yu Darvish, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Mitch Moreland

Using WaR data from Fangraphs, the chart below shows the average WaR value for each player over the last five seasons on the disabled list compared to the player currently manning that position: (excluding Profar and Darvish).

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While there are holes in this data and it’s certainly not something you would use as a definitive measuring stick, but it is still fun to see how much we have missed these regulars. Obviously, you never know if the projected starters would have performed to their previous five season average or not, but like I said it’s a fun way to look at how bad this team misses their “studs”.  Assuming that complete regression doesn’t occur in Fielder and Choo in 2015, and we get the majority of this roster back healthy, I think it’s safe to say that 2015 should put this franchise back in the mix to contend for a divisional title. There are other needs that need to be addressed and hopefully those will be taken care of in the winter, but strictly looking at the disabled list and how it affected this season, the obvious thought holds true-It was devastating.
Jeff Johnson

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