The Rangers continue to improve after being swept in their opening series. Consecutive series wins leaves the Rangers 4-5 and 1.5 games out of first place.
The Texas Rangers win their second series in a row as they take two out of three from the Angels at Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
The Rangers were in complete control of the series, outscoring the Angels 21-12. Takeaway yet another meltdown inning from Sam Dyson and the Rangers certainty played well enough to sweep.
More offensive firepower keeps the Rangers atop the AL in both runs scored and home runs. The starting rotation continued to show improvement lowering their ERA to 3.23, the third lowest starting rotation ERA in baseball. However, another rough series for the bullpen leaves them with the fifth highest bullpen ERA at 6.35.
1. Yu Darvish is a Cy Young favorite
Thanks to a four man rotation, Yu Darvish is one of only five starters to make three starts. He is currently has the second most innings pitched with 19.1.
After giving up four earned runs on Opening Day, Darvish has settled in nicely. He has only given up one earned run in his 13 innings since.
Darvish’s performance has continued to improve throughout his three starts. Darvish forced a swing and a miss on 17.5 percent of his pitches against the Angels. This compared to his 11.3 swing and miss percentage against the Athletics and the 5.1 percent against Cleveland.
Is it possible to improve on Darvish’s start against the Angels? Perhaps the goal for his next start is to be more efficient. He threw 104 pitches in 6.1 innings, averaging nearly four pitches per batter.
2. Robinson Chirinos might be the best backup catcher in baseball
In a day and age when quality catching is hard to come by, the Rangers find themselves with two quality catchers. Make no mistake, Robinson Chirinos would be the starting catcher for nearly half of the league.
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Among catchers with at least ten at-bats, Chirinos is second in RBI, third in ISO, and second in both average and wRC+.
Of course, this is an incredibly small sample size, but it continues a trend of starter quality play from Chirinos. In his 245 games as a Ranger his wRC+ of 100 and his .436 slugging percentage are both well above average for a catcher.
3. Elvis Andrus has completely reinvented himself
After setting career highs in almost every offensive category a season ago, it appears Elvis Andrus is set for another career year offensively.
Elvis currently leads all shortstops in slugging, ISO and wRC+. While we’re only ten games into the season, those are accolades you would never expect to see from the career .088 ISO hitter.
What was once a sight compared to seeing unicorns or leprechauns, Elvis has hit three home runs so far this season, currently on pace to hit 54. While you shouldn’t expect to see Elvis Andrus in the home run derby, he could continue to grow offensively.
Over the past several seasons Elvis has implanted a leg kick and a more aggressive approach at the plate. Once a spray hitter, he’s now focused more on pulling the ball which has resulted in harder contact and more power.
In 2016 Elvis had the second highest pull percentage of his career which resulted in the highest hard hit percentage of his career and the highest line drive percentage. So far in 2017 he’s pulled 68.8% of his batted balls, resulting in an absurd 40.6 hard hit percentage.
Of course, these numbers will come down over the course of the season. But if Elvis can continue to improve his new-found approach all while returning to form on defense, it could be the best season of the shortstops career.
The Rangers continue their west coast road trip tonight as they take on the Seattle Mariners. With hype and anticipation leading into the season thanks in part to a huge off-season, the Mariners have started the year an AL West worst, 2-8.