18 Games in, Texas is Rolling


This past weekend we got to watch the Texas Rangers’ bats come alive for basically the first time all year. The Rangers scored 23 times and only allowed the Mariners to score 3 times. Obviously we are talking about the Seattle Mariners here, but let’s not forget our struggles with them last year. The boys from Texas won 10 games but lost 9 to the 75-win Seattle squad last year. Coming into this season the Mariners games mean more than we thought they did just a year ago. With the Mariners having a better lineup this year, and with all of the Texas pitching injuries, the Rangers came through big with the recent 3-game sweep.

Apr 20, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; A fan celebrates after catching the home run ball in front of Seattle Mariners center fielder

Franklin Gutierrez

(21) hit by Texas Rangers catcher

A.J. Pierzynski

(not shown) during the fourth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Now, the Rangers sit on top of the A.L. “Wild” West with a 12-6 record. The Oakland Athletics sit in second place, a half-game back, after getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, who were 5-10 heading into the series. The Los Angeles Angels are now in third place after sweeping the Detroit Tigers in a 3-game-set in California. They are 4 and 1/2 games back of the Rangers. The Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros round out the division standings at 6 and 7 games behind the Rangers respectively.

The Angels will host Texas on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Angel Stadium. This series could swing the AL West into two totally different directions. With a clean sweep of the Angels the Rangers will be looking down at LA on the league standings, making them 7 and 1/2 games back. If the LA club sweeps the Rangers, Texas will be up just a game and a half. Looking at some stats on Fangraphs and the Angels’ ESPN Clubhouse page, there are a few things that stand out to me when it comes to the Angels.

  • The Angels have scored 73 runs this year, the same as the Astros. They have also given up 83 runs, a -8 run differential. The Rangers have a run differential of +28.
  • The Angels’ (BABIP) or Batting Average on Balls In Play, is ranked number one in the MLB. Their .329 BABIP is just about 20 to 30 points above league average. Many believe that a high BABIP is a stat that shows you’ve had a bit of good luck. The number basically shows that LAA has had balls drop into holes and ground balls find gaps more than normal so far in this young season. Nine times out of 10, the BABIP should level out over the course of the season. Furthermore, Texas’ BABIP is just about 30-40 points below league average, ranked number 24 in the MLB at .269.
  • Out of all Angels pitchers, Garrett Richards has easily been the most impressive. He has good raw stuff but has had trouble finding the strike zone before this season. Right now he is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in 17 and 2/3 innings. Don’t to rain on his parade, but numbers suggest he will regress hard as the law of averages kick him in the rear. His FIP is a full point higher than his ERA. His BABIP is about .175 points below average and his Left On Base percentage is 11% higher than previous season averages. Richards started in the bullpen but entered the rotation after Jered Weaver went down earlier this month.
  • Injury Concerns: Jered Weaver (Elbow), Erick Aybar (Heel), Mark Lowe (Neck),  Alberto Callaspo (Calf), and Ryan Madson (Elbow) are all currently on the 15-day Disabled List. Albert Pujols has been Day-to-Day with plantar fasciitis and inflammation in his left foot. Pujols told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, “I’m dying… It’s hurting real bad.” Albert will most likely remain at DH until he can tolerate playing in the field.
  • The starting rotation for the Angels is a combined 4-7. They’ve allowed 54 earned runs in 94 and 2/3 innings. That is an ERA of 5.13.
  • The starting rotation for the Rangers is a combined 8-6. They’ve allowed 35 earned runs in 103 innings. That is an ERA of 3.14.
  • The Angels needed well over 100 pitches from their bullpen on Sunday night in a 13 inning battle against Detroit. Ernesto Frieri and Jerome Williams both threw over 30 pitches a piece in the game. Sean Burnett, Dane De La Rosa, and Scott Downs made relief appearances as well. Luckily enough for the Angels, Garrett Richards‘ performance on Saturday helped the Angels conserve bullpen arms. Only two relievers were needed in the game for LA, both Michael Roth and Michael Kohn threw 15 pitches a piece.

In the three-game-set against LA starting Monday night, Joe Blanton (0-3, 8.59 ERA) faces Derek Holland (1-1, 1.64 ERA). Jason Vargas (0-2, 6.75 ERA) will take on Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.32 ERA) on Tuesday night and Tommy Hanson (2-1, 4.24 ERA) will try to best Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.03 ERA) in the final game of the series.

Just a little extra from the great Jamey Newberg’s “Newberg Report” this morning:

"“I pulled the Angels’ radio broadcast up in the 12th inning yesterday.  Peter Bourjos struck out and Mike Trout flew out to center, and Jim Leyland intentionally walked Albert Pujols for the second time in the game to get to Josh Hamilton.  Yes, Detroit deliberately put the winning run on base in the bottom of an extra inning.As Hamilton stepped to the plate, the Angels’ radio man said, with an unmistakable sense of resignation in his voice: “He’s gonna make ’em pay . . . . One of these days.”Four-seam Phil Coke fastball, 93 mph, called strike one.Four-seam fastball, 93 mph, fouled off for strike two.Four-seam fastball, 92 mph, swinging strike three.In his final month as a Ranger, Hamilton hit .245/.330/.543.In his miserable June and July, that two-month stretch that he joked to reporters he took off, he hit .202/.288/.399.In the first three weeks of his five-year, eighth-of-a-billion-dollar contract with the Angels, Hamilton is hitting .176/.247/.324.”"