The Rangers Are 18-11

I just talk and talk and talk and it’s great

 

I’ll let the box score tell the narrative:

Derek Holland — 8.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K’s

Offense — 7 runs, 18 hits, 3 BB’s, 6-11 with RISP

 

Ladies and gentleman, your 2013 Texas Rangers. Even if only for a night, we’ve seen how good the Rangers can be. We know it exists. 

Derek Holland was simply masterful, the type of quiet dominance he typically exudes when everything is clicking for him on the mound. It’s turned into his calling card. The way I view Holland is a lot like how most people see a Major League umpire: We really only talk about him when he’s not doing it right, because performances like tonight are no longer unexpected.

When Derek Holland is “on,” or whichever phraseology you’d use to say he’s beating the fuck out of opposing hitters, the results are brilliant. Maybe not in the class of a guy like Yu Darvish, but you’d have a hard time convincing me Derek Holland is not the 2nd best starting pitcher in this rotation, regardless if Matt Harrison is healthy or not.

With Friday night’s start against Boston in the books, Holland now sits at a line of 42.2 IP, 37 K’s, 10 BB’s and 30 hits, with an ERA of 2.74 on the young season. His xFIP is only a shade above a half-run higher  (3.29) — so we’re not talking about ton of luck boosting his ERA — and his SIERA heading into the game was 3.76, which is expected to dip by tomorrow morning once it adjusts.

To support the strong Holland start on Friday night, the recently phantom Ranger offense came out in full effect. Adrian Beltre went 4-5 to raise his triple slash line on the season to .241/.292/.455, and Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland added three hits apiece.

Ian Kinsler’s 3 hits drives him up to a .342/.414/.544 (157 wRC+) clip on the year, including an astounding 11:10 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 128 plate appearances.

During the what the hell portion of the evening, Red Sox starter Felix Doubront found himself in the precarious position of pitching to Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning, which to that point he’d only allowed two runs (on 11 hits). In the decisive at bat of the game, Beltre unloaded a bases-clearing rocket to left-center, upping the Rangers odds of winning from 78.9% to an untenable (at least for the Red Sox) 93.5%.

The 18 hits is a new season-high for the Rangers, who appear poised to come out of this early-season slumber, and this is why:

To this point the Rangers rank just 22nd in Major League Baseball in BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) — a statistic commonly known as one of the sabermetric “luck dragons” — and 27th of 30 teams in FanGraphs’ Clutch metric, which essentially weighs the context of each at bat during a given game.

In short, the Rangers have been slightly unlucky compared to the rest of the league on balls in play, and have frankly sucked in high-leverage hitting situations — which generally involve runners in scoring position and a manageable deficit to make up.

So, there’s that.

The reason you shouldn’t fret about these trends continuing is simple: Luck never discriminates. Often times when offenses go in slumps it has nothing to do with the hitters. It instead has to do with their luck going from lucky to neutral, or unlucky. Eventually the process evens itself out, but it won’t really help you if a guy like Justin Verlander is pitching.

That’s your analysis, but it’s merely filler for what was honestly just a well-played all-around game for the Rangers. With the last two games against the White Sox being as underwhelming as they ultimately ended up becoming, it’s nice to see Texas start a brand new series so proficiently, particularly because the best team in baseball is on their field for the weekend.

 

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