The Star-Crossed Career Of Julio Borbon
By Eric Reining
We can pinpoint the precise moment when Julio Borbon fell out of favor with Ron Washington and the Rangers. It happened last spring training, actually, which was essentially the last noteworthy thing that was written about the estranged outfielder. Joey Matschulat broke it down over at BBTiA about a year ago.
Interestingly enough, the arc of Julio Borbon‘s career has been confounding to say the least. In 2010 — what was to be the first World Series appearance in team history — Borbon was the team’s Opening Day leadoff hitter. Weird, right? It’s hard to fathom. The following year, the Rangers’ 2nd World Series season in as many years, Borbon again started on the Opening Day roster, this time on the opposite end of the lineup, batting 9th.
Over the course of about 550 plate appearances, Borbon hit an empty .275 with just 22 extra-base hits, good for 1.0 fWAR between 2010-2011.
In 2012, he didn’t receive even one full day with the Major League club. Even when rosters expanded and the Rangers called upon the likes of Wilmer Font and Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin — there was still no Julio Borbon. The Rangers looked ready to wash their hands clean of him.
This, a member of one of the more memorable draft classes in Ranger history. Borbon was picked with a compensatory “sandwich” pick — as it was known with the old Collective Bargaining Agreement — in a class featuring Blake Beavan, Neil Ramirez, Tommy Hunter, and Joe Wieland. The common thread between this compendium of draftees is that they are more known for what they didn’t do in Texas;
Beaven was shipped as part of the Cliff Lee trade; Tommy Hunter was packaged with Chris Davis in the Koji Uehara trade; Joe Weiland (and LHP Robbie Erlin) went to San Diego in the Mike Adams trade; Neil Ramirez hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations of his earlier Minor League success; then there’s Borbon, who will probably be in Pittsburgh or Colorado or one of the New York teams in about a week. But for now, he’s here. On the Major League roster.
It comes as a surprise, at least to me, that he made the team, though it’s questionable if he’ll see any plate appearances or defensive innings while he’s in Arlington. Because of the original off day — on April 1st — the Rangers will be able to set their rotation in a way that makes Nick Tepesch unnecessary for the first 9 days of the season. That means the Rangers will go with a 5-man bench, featuring Borbon, Craig Gentry, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker and Leury Garcia — and a 6-man bullpen.
By the time Tepesch is called up, Borbon will either be traded (which is most likely), or put on waivers, where he’ll almost certainly be claimed.
Julio Borbon hasn’t fulfilled the ceiling that most scouts had him pegged at, but he is still one of those fringy 4th outfielders who has decent enough wheels and an above average glove in the outfield. And that has its place somewhere … just not here. We already have one of those guys (Craig Gentry) and he’s better all-around.
With that said, even though I’m not particularly high on Julio, I do think he got a raw deal in his stay with the Rangers. Ron Washington blatantly calling players out through the media is his way of saying “I don’t like this guy” to the upper management.
All over a stupid bunt.
Borbon’s time in Texas has been star-crossed, but one thing is true: With Julio Borbon on the Opening Day roster, the Rangers have made the World Series 100% of the time. We won’t need him in October … hell, we won’t even need him by the beginning of May. But if you believe in the intangible world of magic and faith, then him being on the team to start the year is a great sign.