The Major League Baseball season is almost a month old and the Texas Rangers currently find themselves locked in a first place tie with the Oakland A’s. However, they are near the bottom in a very surprising statistic: home runs.
As long as I have been watching the Rangers, they have hit home runs. Lots and lots of them. Globe Life Park is generally regarded as one of the more homer-friendly parks in baseball. Yet, through 25 games this year, Texas has hit a whopping 14 home runs. That’s good for 27th in the Majors. Only San Diego and Kansas City have hit fewer dingers than Texas.
All told, only 10 Rangers have left the yard this year, and only four of them have managed to hit more than one. When the season began, no one would have questioned if you had told them that new first baseman Prince Fielder would be tied for the team lead in homers. They would be surprised to find that he was tied with a career journeyman (Kevin Kouzmanoff) and a player who was supposed to be in the minors right now (Robinson Chirinos). Those three, along with fellow newcomer Shin-Soo Choo, are tied with two homers apiece.
Since the Rangers are tied for the AL West lead, you would think that it wouldn’t mean that much, but a deeper look shows a little differently. The Rangers are 8-3 in games in which they hit at least one home run. They are a perfect 3-0 in games in which they hit multiple homers. That’s a 73% winning percentage when hitting just one longball as compared to a perfectly average 7-7 record when they fail to homer.
On the Rangers just completed six game trip to Oakland and Seattle, they hit only two homers. They won both games, however. They got a leadoff dinger from Choo in Game One at Oakland Monday night in a game that Texas ultimately had to come from behind to win. Then in Game Three, light-hitting Donnie Murphy went yard to give Texas an insurance run in a 3-0 win. That’s it. Again, the Rangers went 2-0 in games with a homer, and 2-2 in games without one.
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. Jon Daniels specifically brought in Choo and Fielder to bolster an offense that short circuited down the stretch last year. Choo’s game is about getting on base, but Fielder was supposed to feast on the short porch in right. That hasn’t happened yet, though Prince did start to show some signs of life during the last homestand.
Fielder’s slow start combined with Adrian Beltre‘s injury to start the season are major contributing factors to the current Ranger power outage. The team also hasn’t gotten the power they expected out of guys like Alex Rios, Michael Choice and Mitch Moreland, each of whom has hit only one homer.
The Rangers are also missing two guys who combined to hit a few homers in Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. Kinsler’s replacements, Murphy and Josh Wilson, aren’t known as longball hitters and are just keeping the spot warm for injured Jurickson Profar, who has much more pop in his bat. Meanwhile, Choice has struggled with Major League pitching after a red hot spring training. Rios has hit well, he just isn’t hitting homers.
History suggests that it won’t stay this way. Beltre will heal up and hit homers and Rios is too good not to hit more. The added production should allow Fielder to relax and quit pushing so hard, which should help him immensely as well. It’s a long season and things like this tend to even out over time.
So hopefully as the weather heats up, so will the Ranger bats. After all, if the ball isn’t flying out of the yard, it just doesn’t feel like Ranger baseball.