3 takeaways from Rangers series win against the M’s

Jun 16, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) celebrates his run with shortstop Elvis Andrus against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) celebrates his run with shortstop Elvis Andrus against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers continue their hot streak, taking two of three from the M’s. Now only a game out of the second wildcard, is the team thinking postseason?

The Texas Rangers continue their hot stretch after taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers have won three consecutive series and now find themselves only one game back of the second wildcard spot.

Since being swept by the Astros at the beginning of the month, the Rangers have the 7th lowest team ERA. They are an American League West best, 8-3 over that stretch.

With the team beginning to show more consistency, a postseason push seems more and more plausible.

Three takeaways

1. Is Rougned Odor returning to form?

Rougned Odor made news this offseason after signing a new six year contract extension that keeps him in Texas until at least 2024. While the contract itself was nothing out of the ordinary, it was the inclusion of two elite race horses that caught the eye of many.

Perhaps the inclusion of a foal was foreshadowing for Odor’s foul play (there’s a late fathers day dad joke).

At this point in the season, Odor has statistically been the worst second baseman in the American League. His 0.2 WAR ranks dead last as does his abysmal -8.4 offensive rating.

However, it’s difficult to quantify the value Odor brings to the team. His low walk rate and well below average defense are like nails against a chalk board for analytic nuts. But for the Rangers, it’s his energy that makes him the spark plug of this lineup.

But after a big series against the M’s, Odor may be back on track to justify the inclusion of two elite race horses in his contract.

Odor went 4-13 during the series, three of those hits going for extra bases. It also marked the first time this season Odor reached base more than once in three consecutive games. In fact he drew his first walk since May 26th. No that is not a typo. Before yesterday, Odor’s June walk percentage was zero.

Over his past ten games Odor is hitting .325 with an ISO rating of .409. Over that stretch Odor is in the top ten of nearly every offensive category for second baseman.

2017 has already been an improvement defensively for Odor. He’ll be back on track if he can continue to show offensive consistency.

2. Tyson Ross impressed in his debut

When Tyson Ross underwent surgery to address symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, his future became a mystery.

It’s an injury with a small and inconclusive track record. Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter’s careers took a nose dive following the injury. Meanwhile, Matt Harrison and Chris Young both saw the their best years following the injury.

The Rangers decided to take a waiver on the former All-Star, signing him to a one-year ‘prove it’ deal in the offseason.

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After several rough rehab outings, Tyson Ross finally made his Rangers debut Friday against the Mariners. Despite showing some shaky command early, Ross impressed, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

His fastball hovered around 90 mph, which is lower than his 92 mph career average. It is possible that the injury pegged a few mph off his fastball. Other pitchers who have came back from the same injury have seen a decrease in their velocity as well. It is also possible that Ross regains his fastball velocity as the season goes on.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ross’s debut was the heavy reliance on his slider. Ross only threw his fastball 44 percent of the time, 12 percent less than his career average. He threw his slider 49 percent of the time, a near 14 percent increase over his career average.

As his career has progressed, Ross has begun to throw his slider more and rightfully so. From 2013-2015 Ross’s slider had a cumulative value of 63, making it one of the best off speed pitches in baseball.

Rather or not Ross will be able to return to All-Star form remains to be seen. But his debut on Friday was certainly a step in the right direction.

3. The Rangers have two of the best leadoff hitters in baseball

The Rangers are the only team in baseball to have two different players with over 100 plate appearances in the leadoff spot, Shin-Soo Choo and Delino DeShields. Both have been premier leadoff hitters.

Among 30 players with over 100 plate appearances batting leadoff, Choo’s .443 OBP is the highest while DeShield’s .380 is 4th highest.

Choo has arguably been the best all-around hitter out of the leadoff spot. His wRC+ is 157, which is good for first. He’s also one of only three players with a batting average over .300 and a slugging percentage over .500.

What DeShields lacks in power he makes up for with his speed. His ten steals are the sixth most among leadoff hitters. He’s one of only two players with 12 steal attempts to have been caught less than three times.

DeShields is also one of only nine players in all of baseball who have yet to hit into a double play. His three sacrifice hits are second most in baseball and tied for the most among leadoff hitters.

With the offense clicking as off late, you need to look no further than the top of the lineup to pay your gratitude.

As a team, the Rangers have the third highest OBP from their leadoff hitters and the seventh most runs scored.

Looking ahead

The Rangers continue their stretch against tough opponents as they begin a four game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at home.

After a dreadful first month of the season the Blue Jays have been one of the better teams in baseball. Since going 8-17 in April, the Blue Jays are 25-18 and only two games below .500.

Since 2015 the Blue Jays are 8-6 against the Rangers and of course 2-0 in the postseason.

The Rangers hope to continue their hot streak as they chase down the second wildcard spot.

Game one – Marco Estrada (4-5, 4.54 ERA) vs. Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 3.28 ERA)

Game two – Francisco Liriano (3-2, 5.36 ERA) vs. Nick Martinez (1-3, 4.67 ERA)

Game three – Joe Biagini (1-6, 4.26 ERA) vs. Tyson Ross (1-0, 3.18 ERA)

Game four – Marcus Stroman (7-3, 3.15 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (3-6, 4.72 ERA)