The 2017 Texas Rangers starting rotation is riddled with question marks. Looking at pre-season predictions confirms this.
Advanced sabermetrics hate them. No really, they do. Fangraph’s preseason predictions have the Texas Rangers finishing 83-79. This would leave them tied for second in the AL West with both the Mariners and the Angels and seven games behind the first place Astros who are projected to finish 90-72.
Sabermetrics weren’t kind to the Rangers last year either, despite finishing with the best record in the American League and second best in franchise history at 95-67. On the final day of the season the Rangers had a 1520 ELO rating, which is barley above an average team.
ELO is a system designed by FiveThirtyEight, used to compare teams across all eras. It takes wins into account of course, but also takes run differential among other things into account in order to dive deeper than a team’s record. The Rangers historic performance in one-run games mixed with their pedestrian +8 run differential did not bode well for these types of projections.
Their 1520 rating was only 20 points over what is considered a ‘average team’. Both the Mariners and Astros, who finished behind the Rangers in the division, had a better rating than the Rangers.
So we should just pack it up and hand the division title to the Astros? What’s the point of even playing out the season, right? Not today complicated sabermetric predictions. The Rangers will try to exceed expectations for the third year in a row heading into 2017.
One of the main reasons projections are so low on the Rangers is because of the question marks surrounding the teams starting rotation. Let’s dive into how sabermetrics think the starting rotation will fair.