Shortly after the Nelson Cruz suspension I argued that Craig Gentry should pick up the bulk of the outfield time. A few days later Jon Daniels landed Alex Rios and my hopes for Gentry were never realized. With Jim Adduci, apparently a lifetime minor leaguer up to this point, now getting at bats I have to once again ask why Gentry is not getting playing time. At the time I argued Gentry should grab the playing time Nelson Cruz left behind I claimed Gentry was subpar offensively.
This is not true.
Last year Gentry dropped a neat 106 wRC+ over 269 plate appearances. He also delivered 2.8 WAR. Other players with at least 250 plate appearances in 2012 that delivered 2.8 WAR are Asdrubal Cabrera, David Ortiz, Allen Craig and Jeff Keppinger. That is solid company. Last year Yoenis Cespedes provided 2.9 WAR. Each of these players also had at least 100 more plate appearances than Craig Gentry. Gentry was starting player kind of valuable last year. This year Gentry has his wRC+ up to 102 through 216 PA and has a WAR of 2.3 good for second best on the team behind Adrian Beltre’s 5.2. (Fangraphs). Gentry is not sub par offensively and with his stellar defense he is a starting caliber player.
Now before my fine readers get too worked up I should point out that the Baseball-Reference WAR calculation paint a slightly different picture. Gentry comes in fifth behind Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus respectively. Still, Gentry is one of the better Rangers and starting caliber.
I cannot understand what Ron Washington is doing with his outfield. This team has few question marks about who to play on the infield and at catcher. Beltre should play third as often as possible. Andrus and Kinsler get to play up the middle with Jurickson Profar giving them the occasional day off. Mitch Moreland and Jeff Baker should platoon at first and A.J. Pierzinski should catch as much as possible. That is all easy. Washington has largely employed this lineup but he has mismanaged his outfield by woefully underplaying Gentry. This is particularly true since the loss of Cruz and addition of Alex Rios. Gentry has a higher WAR than Rios even though Rios has over twice as many PA. (2.0 WAR and 545 PA). Rios’s wRC+ is 99. He is also a league average hitter. If Washington is going to play Rios every day and not consider matchups then Gentry deserves the same treatment.
Perhaps the Rangers’ coaches think Gentry can get overexposed by playing too much. I am not a baseball scout so maybe that is fair but I doubt it. David Murphy has over 400 plate appearances and he has looked overexposed all year. Gentry and Murphy were considered fourth outfielder types up to this point but Gentry has put up WAR numbers in line with a starter in half as many plate appearances while Murphy has put up replacement level numbers while getting a starter’s share of appearances. Washington is finally giving in and playing Murphy less which at least means more Jeff Baker but it has not meant enough Craig Gentry. If Gentry had had those extra 200 plate appearances and corresponding time in the field it could have meant another win or two so far. I do not blame Washington for going with Murphy early in the year, David was excellent last year, but Washington left him in too long.
The Rangers are leading the division by one game. It is not time to give time to 28 year old organizational depth guys like Jim Adduci crucial at bats. I hope Adduci proves me wrong and tears it up. I hope Adduci does a Miguel Cabrera impression for the next two months but he is not going to and Gentry is the guy whose at bats are going to waste.