It has been 34 days since Spring Training began. Texas Rangers fans have witnessed 24 games and the club has yet to announce who will play left field this season. I believe the position candidates has been narrowed down to two – Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski.
They each played under 30 games with the club last season. Both players have done more than enough to prove they’re worthy to break camp with Texas. So, how do they stack up when compared? I’m so glad you asked.
First, let’s begin with last season’s offensive numbers. Ryan Rua drove in 14 runs, hit 7 doubles and two home runs over 28 games for a batting average of .295. Similarly, Smolinksi hit 5 doubles, three home runs, drove in 12 runs over 24 games while batting .349.
Now, those stats might help you decide, they weren’t enough to help me choose. I had to “dig deeper” to see who will be most beneficial to the Rangers in left field. In other words, I had to make my way over to FanGraphs to brush up on my advanced metrics lingo and decide which statistics present a clearer picture.
Here are the stats I looked at for comparison value via FanGraphs:
Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) – UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof).
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – DRS is a defensive statistic calculated by The Fielding Bible, an organization run by John Dewan, that rates individual players as above or below average on defense. I used this because it captures a player’s total defensive value.
rARM – Outfield Arms Runs Saved evaluates an outfielder’s throwing arm based on how often runner advance on base hits and are thrown out trying to take extra bases.
Defense (Def) – Def is the combination of two important factors of defensive performance: value relative to positional average (fielding runs) and positional value relative to other positions (positional adjustment).
Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – WAR attempts to estimate a player’s total value relative to a free available player, such as a minor league free agent.
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As you can see, I added two runner-up players to the list – Carlos Peguero and Nate Schierholtz. After a discussion on Twitter, I realized that the decision is much more complicated than the Texas Rangers having two options. So, to be fair I thought it would be a good idea to compare them as well.
I’m still torn and can’t decide, but if I were forced to make the call…I would pick Ryan Rua. Who would you pick?
NEVER. EVER. QUIT.