What Is Normal?

By the end of a 162-game season, you usually have a pretty good idea of which baseball players are the best and which are the worst. Last year the best player was either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout (depending on who you ask). The worst player was either Jeff Francoeur or Justin Smoak or Michael Young (again, depending on who you ask).
But what about the unsung heroes? What about the perfectly ordinary? The middle-of the-road? What about the guys that make their living somewhere between adequate and just okay?

I’m here to give those guys the props that they (kind of) deserve by deciding which Rangers most resemble your average major leaguer.

With the world of baseball statistics being so varied and diverse, there are a lot of ways to judge a player’s averageness. To simplify the process, I decided to avoid things like WAR and also “team stats” like RBI. I looked at hitters and pitchers separately, and left relievers out because of how unstable some of their numbers can be.

For hitters I looked at the league average triple-slash line and the league average OPS. For pitchers I looked at ERA, hits per 9 innings, homeruns per 9 innings, walks per 9 innings, and strikeouts per 9 innings.

Then it was as simple as comparing the players’ numbers to the averages and finding who most closely matched. (Note: I gathered these stats from Baseball Reference on May 10th. They will probably be slightly different by the time this article is posted.)

On the hitters’ side, the league averages are as follows:

  • BA — .254 OBP — .321 SLG — .411 OPS — .732

As I looked over the numbers, two guys jumped out right away. Somewhat serendipitously, they both split time in center field.

There was Craig Gentry:

  • BA — .242 OBP — .329 SLG — .403 OPS — .732

And there was Leonys Martin:

  • BA — .254 OBP — .329 SLG — .333 OPS — .662

The obvious difference between the two is slugging percentage and OPS, where Gentry is up 70 points in the former and is exactly league average in the latter.

Kittenface is your winner.

For pitchers, your baseline is:

  • ERA – 4.07 H/9 – 8.7 HR/9 – 1.1 BB/9 – 3.2 K/9 – 7.9

Again I zeroed in on two guys who were hovering right around the mean.

Alexi Ogando:

  • ERA – 3.09 H/9 – 8.0 HR/9 – 1.0 BB/9 – 3.7 K/9 – 7.0

Justin Grimm:

  • ERA – 3.45 H/9 – 9.4 HR/9 – 0.9 BB/9 – 3.5 K/9 – 9.7

I debated this one for a while. Grimm’s ERA and walks are closer, but Ogando has a huge edge in strikeouts. The other two categories are basically identical.

Finally, after giving it far more thought than it actually deserved, I settled on Grimm. (You may disagree, but it’s my game, so I’m the one that has to make the tough choices. I stand by my ruling.)

So congratulations to Craig Gentry and Justin Grimm for being completely sufficient and not-at-all extraordinary.

Stand up, Rangers fans, and give them the half-hearted salute they deserve.

Mike Luna is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. He can be reached at Mike.Luna@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @twbbg.
Mike Luna

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