Breaking Down Players’ Stock


Sep 26, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Jake Smolinski (20) hits a double during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 season for the Rangers has been beset with injuries. In fact, as the season comes to a close this weekend, the only players who remain on the roster from Opening Day are as follows: Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross Jr., Shawn Tolleson, J.P. Arencibia, Robinson Chirinos, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Leonys Martin, and Jim Adduci.

Nine Players. If injuries and playing struggles are considered the number dwindles even further. Arencibia and Ross both missed time this season while in the minor leagues working out some of the struggles they dealt with on the field this season. Adduci missed more time for several different injuries ranging from a broken finger to a concussion.

Some players though were added to the roster very soon after the outset of the season. Both Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez spent the majority of the season with the Rangers despite missing some period of time. Still, this season feels like it began ages ago when you consider the Opening Day roster included the likes of Joe Saunders and Pedro Figueroa.

Given that only a few players made it through the whole season relatively unscathed so to speak, it seems to be an interesting exercise to weigh in on how their personal stock has changed within the Rangers organization.

Stock Up:

Robinson Chirinos. Chirinos has proved that he could stick around in the majors for a prolonged stretch following this year. He has had to catch a plethora of pitchers and dealt with his duties behind the plates relatively well considering the high task. He appears to have made some necessary adjustments offensively as well. His .323 post-ASG OPB is more than fifty points higher than his pre-All Star Game numbers (.271 OBP). This is based largely on his improved K:bb ratio; he has walked nearly twice as often this half (11) than in the first half (6) in 80 fewer at bats. His strikeout rate is also down considerably. This improvement may have built his value up in the Ranger executives’ minds enough to allow him another chance to start out of the gate next year.

Colby Lewis. Lewis has vastly different halves this season as far as production but they each were valuable in their own sense. The first half was all about Colby proving that he was in fact healthy. He did that by never failing to make his turn in the rotation once he made his belated start to the season. His second half was about proving that he could still pitch effectively at the major league level. Hitters batted more than 100 points lower against Lewis in the second half (.251 opposed to .353 in the first half) and Colby was able to pitch more innings in the second half (86) than the first (84) despite starting three fewer games illustrating his improved ability to go deeper into games. Given his two-step season of proving doubters wrong, Colby has raised his stock enough to deserve a chance to have a new contract with the Rangers for next season.

Shawn Tolleson. He gave the Rangers 71 innings this season (most on the Rangers out of the bullpen) that they desperately needed and made them effective too. He got better with time too. His first half ERA clocked in a 3.47 compared to an impressive 1.48 ERA in the second half in which hitters batted .193 off him and he struck out more than a batter per inning. Tolleson comes out of this season feeling like a veteran giving his performance and relative experience in an exceptionally young bullpen. He looks to be a solid cog in the Rangers bullpen for 2015.

Nick Martinez. His ERA fell nearly a full point from 5.10 to 4.12 from the first to second half this season as he figured out Major League hitters better than they adapted to him. Nick’s BAA fell an impressive 54 points from .305 to .251 as well. What’s most impressive though might be his vastly improved k:bb ratio; in the first half Martinez walked more men than he struck out but had very close to a 2:1 ratio in the second half with 46 K’s next to just 24 walks in 67.2 innings. Having exceptionally limited exposure above single A before this season, Nick gave the Rangers 134.2 innings this season an got better all throughout. He should be locked into the rotations picture heading into 2015 based on his improvement.

Stock Down:

J.P. Arencibia. This was not the season that either Arencibia or the Rangers had hoped for from the 28 year old. Texas management surely hoped that a change of scenery would help J.P. overcome his struggles getting on base and better tap into his raw power potential. His incredibly slow start led to a mid-season demotion to AAA where J.P. hit quite well; his 14 homeruns and .862 OPS were strong numbers and resulted in his subsequent promotion back to Texas where he, albeit less so, struggled some more. The pop is obviously there and Arencibia seems to have minor league pitching figured out, but a .177 batting average will simply not cut it especially with poor walk totals. His time playing for the Rangers might be up.

Elvis Andrus. Okay, Andrus has been under the microscope since his arrival in 2009 and discussing his upside or untapped potential is trite. Still, he seems to have taken a half step back this year. His .260 batting average is a career low and so is his .312 OBP (by .016 too). This, compounded by his highest error total in three seasons and worst caught stealing percentage of his career have made his game poor where it is usually quite solid. Elvis is most probably going to be exactly what he has been thus far: a light hitting shortstop with good playmaking abilities and admirable durability (155 or more games each of the last three years). But .260/.312/.331 is just not quite up to par when the other aspects of his game aren’t quite on either. Ideally he could have looked better heading into 2015 where the Rangers hope to contend in Elvis’ age-26/27 season.

Neal Cotts. Neal had a phenomenal season last year and his exceptional performance might have heightened expectations to unrealistic heights in my case. However, he still lost 9 games this season and currently has an ERA close to 4.50. Cotts did stay healthy but his effectiveness slipped undoubtedly; with the right contract he very well could be back for next season but he did not do himself any favors this year in order to lobby for a more lucrative deal.

Robbie Ross Jr. This season has been a disaster for the 25 year old Ross. Following two productive seasons out of the bullpen the Rangers again tried to tinker with what wasn’t necessarily broken and utilize Ross in the Rotation. His 5.70 ERA as a starter forced the Rangers to drop the struggling Ross from the rotation after 12 starts but he has fared even worse (7.85 ERA) in the ‘pen. Hopefully, Robbie can sort himself out this offseason and come to camp next year with a clearer idea of his intended role; it will take a lot of work and a short-term memory to rid him mentally of this seasons struggles.

Players like Nick Tepesch, Leonys Martin, Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre all seemed to have seasons on par with their “expected” trajectory and have therefore not seen their stock go up or down in my opinion. Despite abridged seasons, it appears Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz have done a solid job recovering from injuries this season too.

In general, those players who got injured this year saw their stock fall (Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, etc), but the younger players that have taken over have done better than most could have anticipated.

Of the young players, these had seasons detrimental to their career progress:

(aforementioned) Profar

Jim Adduci

Michael Choice

And here are those who have seized their opportunities:

Rougned Odor

Ryan Rua

Jake Smolinski

Lisalverto Bonilla

Phil Klein

Alex Claudio

Daniel Robertson

Spencer Patton

Tomas Telis

Roman Mendez

The list of young players regressing is considerably smaller then that of those who have taken steps forward. That might be the single point to take away from this 2014 season: the progress of the Rangers youth. It could have been exceptionally plausible that members from this second group struggled given their first ML taste; Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski have not appeared overpowered in a way many new prospects do; Lisalverto Bonilla was probably more likely to start his career 0-3 than 3-0.

So as this season comes to an end, the late surge and rising potential of young players gives this season a slightly more 2009 Rangers feel to me opposed to 2001 Rangers. Once the Rangers veterans regain their health these young players will no longer have to carry the lions share of the load and, I believe, fill in very effectively.  Hopefully this time next year, this article won’t be about individuals but about the Rangers performance as a unified team; but in the meantime, these younger player have made the future look brighter now than it did a month ago.