The good, the bad and the ugly from the Rangers 1st half
The Rangers lone All-Star deserves to be the first mentioned in the ‘good’ section. Since coming over from Japan before the 2012 season, Yu Darvish’s electric stuff has never been in question. His health, on the other hand, a different story.
With 2017 being the last year of his once record-setting contract, Darvish needed to prove he could stay healthy to cash in this upcoming offseason. So far he’s done just that logging 100+ innings before the All-Star Break for the first time since 2014.
Having Darvish in the rotation has been crucial for a team who’s starting rotation ranks 4th in ERA. He’s one of only 15 starters to rank in the top-twenty in WAR, ERA, FIP, and K/9.
Whether or not he’s still in a Rangers’ jersey after the August 1st trade deadline remains to be seen. But for now, Darvish has played a vital role in keeping the Rangers afloat.
I’ve received some flak for my critical view of Andrew Cashner’s success. His FIP is too high, and his K/9 is too low to expect him to sustain any success reasonably. But I’ve been saying that since the beginning of the season and he’s still performing somewhat better than anticipated.
Yes, his consistency issues have been a problem, as they have been for most of his career, but he’s contributed far better than the Rangers could have expected.
After finishing with the 9th highest ERA in baseball a season ago, the Rangers took a flyer on Cashner hoping he could anchor the back-end of the rotation.
Instead, he’s been the team’s third-best starter behind the two-headed monster that is Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels.
Starting pitching depth
If I were to tell you before the season that the Rangers would be without Cole Hamels for 57 days, Andrew Cashner for 28, A.J. Griffin for 63 (and counting) and Tyson Ross for 76 what would you have guessed? Probably that the team would be rolling out one of the worst rotations baseball has to offer.
Instead, the team has the 4th best starting ERA in the American League. Thanks in large part to the contributions from unlikely sources.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx, a long time minor leaguer, finally made his debut at the age of 32, giving the Rangers six solid starts during the absence of Hamels and Cashner.
Nick Martinez had six outings where he gave up three runs or less, and we even saw a spot start from Alex Claudio. Who, despite being a middle-reliever, pitched four strong innings against the best offense in baseball.
It feels like yesterday people were already deeming the Elvis Andrus extension as one of the worst contracts ever. Admittedly, I was growing concerned. From 2014-2015 he was the second highest paid shortstop despite only producing 3.0 WAR over that stretch.
Fast forward to 2017 and Elvis has completely reinvented himself. We saw his retooled offensive approach last season when he set a new career high with a 9.9 offensive rating, shattering his previous career high by nearly eight points.
Despite his success at the plate, it was his worst year defensively and on the basepaths. Elvis has carried over his newfound hitting approach into 2017 while also bringing more balance to his game.
He ranks top five among shortstops in OPS+, AVG, RBI, runs scored and home runs. He’s also second in stolen bases with 20 and only four steals shy of besting his total from last season.
In what many consider to be a golden era of shortstops, Elvis has made sure we haven’t forgotten about him. Certainly one of the biggest All-Star snubs this season.
Joey Gallo and the three-true-outcomes
Ten years ago it would have been absurd to put a hitter hitting below the Mendoza line in any ‘good’ category. But Joey Gallo has become the poster child of what’s turning into the ‘three-true-outcomes’ era.
Joey Gallo filled in for Adrian Beltre during his stint on the DL and played well enough to find a place in the everyday lineup despite his return. He boasts the lowest average and highest strikeout rate in the American League. But his .821 OPS is over .070 points over what most consider average.
In fact, Gallo is on pace to join 2002 Mark McGwire as the only two players in history to finish the season with an average under .200 and an OPS over .800.