There were still some residual 4th-of-July fireworks left in the Ranger bats on Friday night, as they used the home run ball to slug out a 10-5 win over the Astros.
Nick Tepesch was brilliant in his first 5.0 innings of work, surrendering no runs on 4 hits, striking out a career-high 9 batters. Damn boy you bad. However, he didn’t retire any of the 4 hitters he faced in the 6th inning, which is why Nick’s final stat line doesn’t look particularly awe-inspiring (5.0 IP/4 runs/7 hits/1 BB/9 K’s).
The offense more than compensated. In the bottom of the 2nd Nelson Cruz hit one of the stranger looking grand slams you’ll ever see, on a ball that twice bounced on the layer of padding above the left-center field wall, and then over into the bullpen. That shot gave the Rangers a commanding 6-0 lead, effectively ending the game right there.
David Murphy went 1-4 with a home run and a walk, and his triple slash line on the season now reads: .221/.281/.386. Ron Washington currently has him batting 2nd in the lineup. The person Murphy is cosmetically replacing in that slot, Elvis Andrus, went 1-4; his triple slash line on the season is .243/.297/.285.
Here is a list of how the everyday players stack up in terms of the offensive metric wRC+.
1. Adrian Beltre: 125
2. Nelson Cruz: 121
T-3. Ian Kinsler: 112
T-3. Mitch Moreland: 112
5. Leonys Martin: 108
6. Lance Berkman: 101
7. A.J. Pierzynski: 94
8. Jurickson Profar: 89
9. David Murphy: 71
10. Elvis Andrus: 54
If you don’t follow this stat, a 100 wRC+ is mathematically considered league-average. The higher the number, the better that player is above the mean; conversely, the further you dip below 100, the worse that guy is compared to league-average.
As you can see, everyone from Jurickson Profar (86 wRC+) to Adrian Beltre (125 wRC+) is more or less an average- to above-average offensive player. Despite this, Washington for some reason insists on squeezing one of his lineup’s worst hitter’s between Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. Basic math indicates that the 2nd-place hitter will receive the 2nd-most plate appearances over the course of a season, so why Andrus? Why Murphy?
That was more of a rhetorical question, because I honestly don’t know, myself. The sad truth is, there is probably nothing deep or profound about it at all; it’s just an illogical decision from a man who perceives it to be the right thing to do. Whether Elvis Andrus comes out of his season-long slump hitting out of the 8-spot, or whether David Murphy starts crushing the ball on a 2012-type rate out of the 2-spot, the only certainty is that neither should be batting behind Ian Kinsler, in front of Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre.
Never have I been especially high on Murph as a player, but I respect his consistently solid mashing of right-handed pitching (.284/.350/.475, 115 wRC+) during his tenure in Arlington. Elvis Andrus, on the other hand, is better than this. He has to be, doesn’t he?
Forget about his 8-year, $120 million contract. Let’s not even go there right now. At age-25, Elvis is either in the infant stages of the prime of his career offensively, or he peaked in 2011 (91 wRC+) and 2012 (95 wRC+). This language might sound a bit harsh and dramatic, but that’s just the mood I’m in. Because we’re not exactly talking about a “young, improving hitter” anymore; Andrus is a guy who’s in his 5th full MLB season, and he’s racked up just shy of 3,000 ML plate appearances. As a fan, I like Elvis a lot, but I don’t believe it’s out of the question to start asking if we have already seen the best of his bat.
Sometimes you do everything you can and still it isn’t enough. Sometimes you do nothing and serendipity falls in your favor. You figure there has to be some perfect combination of words that would balance the scales, maybe even put the situation back in your favor. But no matter what happens you realize you’ll always be stuck somewhere between desperate and romantic about whatever you love.