1st Half Grades: The Offense

As I wrote last night, the Rangers (47-34) have now reached the exact halfway mark in the 2013 season.  Here is how they’ve looked after 81 games over the last 3 years:

2010 — 48-33

2011 — 43-38

2012 — 50-31

 

With the 50% of the schedule in the bank, this article focuses on how each Ranger has performed. I’ll have my 1st half grades for the pitchers tomorrow, but Part One deals strictly with the offense.

My grading scale for judging these players is nonexistent; it’s as subjective as how I feel at this exact moment. The only caveat I’ll add deals with expectations; conflated with how well they have actually performed, each grade is relative to what was expected of the player.

Infield

Mitch Moreland: A-

After 245 plate appearances, Moreland has assumed the role of Everyday 1st Baseman — sitting at a solid .277/.327/.522 (123 wRC+); arguably the biggest surprise of the 1st half.

Ian Kinsler: B

You’ll take a 121 wRC+ from your 2nd baseman every damn day, period. And be happy with it. Perhaps Kinsler’s most impressive stat is K:BB ratio, which right now stands at 20:19.

Adrian Beltre: B

Need I say anything? He’s the team’s best defensive infielder (relative to position), and the best hitter in the lineup (which isn’t saying a terrible amount in 2013).

Elvis Andrus: F

Defensively, he’s a strong Major League shortstop; not elite, but right below it. He has 17 stolen bases. Offensively, he’s terrible. His BB-rate (7.1%) is tied for the lowest in his career, and his K-rate (14.6%) is higher than ever. Still hitting out of the 2-hole for some reason, Andrus’ triple slash line is .242/.298/.283 (54 wRC+).

Jurickson Profar: B-

His 114 plate appearance sample is smaller than the other players, but he’s certainly held his own (.270/.333/.400, 96 wRC+).

Outfield

David Murphy: D+

I don’t know if the plus counts for Murph, because he’s looked quite atrocious in the outfield — despite a ridiculous +7.8 UZR — but he does encourage me. Right now his triple slash isn’t pretty (.221/.277/.375, 70 wRC+), but he is due to get hot at some point; his .226 BABIP simply cannot stay so bad.

Leonys Martin: B+/A-

.287/.337/.448 (108 wRC+). 15 for 17 stealing bases. That arm. That cannon of an arm. He should be an everyday player for the foreseeable future.

Nelson Cruz: B-

His defense stinks. His defense is horrible. I could probably list about 87 different things I’d rather do than watch Nelson Cruz field a fly ball that he actually has to move for, but I imagine about 70 of them involve watching a Rangers’ game, and the other 20 or so aren’t appropriate for what I surmise to be a semi-family audience.

Since we’re still talking about Nellie, that boy can sure do bad things to a baseball with a bat in his hands. It will be a substantial blow to the offense if for some reason he is suspended.

Craig Gentry: C+

Craig is one of my favorite players. There’s nothing special I have to hope for; his ceiling isn’t terribly higher than his floor, and I respect that. Gentry’s bat has significantly taken a step back in 2013 (64 wRC+ compared to 105 in 2012), but he’s really not on the team to be a hitter. His defense remains superb.

Jeff Baker: A

Let’s face it, dude is a juggernaut against left-handed pitching. A platoon player, Baker sits at .386/.491/1.000 (287 wRC+) vs. lefties this year. At $1.75 million, he was Jon Daniels’ shrewdest pickup of the offseason.

Catching

A.J. Pierzynski: B

Hard to believe, but he’s been one of the best hitters on the club this year. His defense will never be anything to write home about, but the Rangers will certainly take a 104 wRC+ from its primary catcher.

Designated Hitter

Lance Berkman: C+

I contemplated putting him in the B range, but something is lacking. Power. There’s nothing at all wrong with the .362 on-base% Berkman has posted, but he needs to do something with that .392 SLG in the 2nd half. I expect his bat to pay off down the stretch, but right now the best word to describe Lance is probably meh.

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  • Andy

    I look at your grade of Elvis and I want to think, “Elvis is a shortstop. We can’t expect that much out of him. Why give him an F?” But you’re right. He has been absolutely terrible for most of the first half. That’s why his production the last few days has seemed like unlikely and therefore appreciated all the more. I’m not sure I’d give Mitch an A-, especially because since coming back from the DL he’s looking more like himself of old, but he has indeed been another surprise for most of it.

    • Eric Reining

      Thank you for the input.

      As I was making these grades, I realized almost everyone graded out in the C-minus to B-average range, which got boring, so I went back and altered the process a bit. I needed to create a range within the paradigm, and for the Rangers I slanted it from who I believe to be the team’s worst 1st-half performer (Andrus) all the way to the best (Holland). Everyone else fell somewhere between the A+ and the F.

      I went soft on Mitch because he’s only been back for a little over a week. I’m not high on him (as I’m sure you are well aware), but in this case I thought it best to give him the benefit of the doubt, because of how unexpectedly good he was before the injury.

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