Stranded, Texas Ranger
By Jared Book
Excuse the Chuck Norris reference. I am sure it is tired. But, what if I told you that the vaunted Texas Rangers, noted for one of the best offenses in all of baseball is one of the worst offenses with runners in scoring position. And that, not the pitching, not the fielding is what is costing this team runs and by association, wins.
This isn’t catastrophic. The team still has a five game lead over any team in the division and are still among the best teams in baseball but their situational hitting needs to be better.
The Rangers are hitting .210/.269/.368 with a .275 wOBA. wOBA takes everything into consideration and by that measure, the Rangers only have four teams worse than them with runners on second or third base. Those teams? Toronto, Pittsburgh, Houston and Washington. Now, some of those teams are actually not performing badly, but when the Rangers have been losing games lately, they have had many opportunities to score base runners and it really is surprising when you look at the players in their lineup. The Rangers have a .255 BABIP which is low and a low (41.6%) ground ball percentage which means that it is low mostly due to luck. Like I said, it’s not something to worry about and it should correct itself but if you are looking for a reason the Rangers are stuck in the mud, this is a major reason.
Yes, since the quick start everything has regressed back to a normal pace. The team is 14-14 in the last 30 days and obviously they are better than a .500 team. Everything will come to improve the team. The pitching will get back to a pace where the offense doesn’t have to win games. The offense will get to a place where the pitching won’t have to win games. This team is complete, this team is performing pretty well but their hitting in key spots needs to improve and when it does (not if) the Rangers will have those frustrating losses be fewer and farther between.
The weird thing? The Rangers are one of the best teams in terms of hitting with runners on base in general (I guess a lot of that is Josh Hamilton hitting homeruns with Elvis Andrus on first…) It just plummets when there are runners in scoring position. You can expect that when a lineup has obvious weak spots to exploit. The Rangers don’t have that in their usual lineup, but it has to be said that there have been significant players struggling at different times. The lineup has not been hitting on cylinders and one quarter through the season, it is getting to a concerning point especially considering the importance of key hits at playoff time.