When the Texas Rangers made the deal to bring Will Venable in from the San Diego Padres, many people thought, “who is this guy and what does he bring to the table?” Well so far Venable has been a solid addition to the Rangers lineup. The 32 year old had spent the entirety of his career in San Diego prior to this season, and since then has added some of the things that all teams need in a fourth outfielder: defense, speed and ability to get on base.
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While he hasn’t gotten a hit since September 15th, he has multiple tools. He can steal bases and he draws walks, currently holding an on-base percentage over .300. The former Princeton Tiger is not going to be the star in anyone’s lineup, but he does provide a veteran presence that can provide steady leadership in the outfield.
In addition to just what he has added at the plate, Venable has provided some good quality defense in the outfield. He may not be a gold glover, but he has a positive defensive WAR in the outfield in right, center and left while in Texas. He has not committed any errors and 24 putouts in 25 chances.
They say “pitching is defense”, but regardless of how good of pitching you have, you need to have guys who know what they are doing in the field if you are going to succeed and win in the postseason. Look at the Kansas City Royals last season. They did not have a lineup full of power hitters, but they had solid guys who could hit as well as field. Have you noticed that in every no-hitter/perfect game there is always a great defensive play that keeps the pitcher with a clean slate? That’s because defense is a crucial part of the game that is often overlooked, and becomes even more important in October. With Hamilton not being able to play much in the outfield the rest of the season due to various injuries, picking up a guy like Venable was a savvy move as they picked up a guy who can fill in when needed and cover solidly.