The Texas Rangers have good reason to have a higher scoring offense. Why? Because they are among the league leaders in a very important on-base statistic.
If you scroll through the stat lines for the Texas Rangers you probably won’t be all that impressed. The team’s strikeout total is off the charts, batting average is beyond poor and even typically good Rangers’ stats such as home runs and runs scored are rather modest. However, there are a few statistics that do stand out for the Texas offense. One of them is walks.
It may not be the sexiest stat, but the Texas Rangers rank fifth in the American League with 202 walks drawn. Of course, this means the team is seeing a lot of pitches. A high number of pitches per plate appearance means counts will deepen and the probability of a walk increases. Unfortunately, a deep count could go the other way and lead to a strikeout–something the Rangers lead all of baseball in.
Strikeouts aside, the team’s high walk total stands out for a few reasons:
Texas lacks a superstar bat
First off, the Rangers don’t really have a guy in their lineup that teams are overly afraid to face. They have a couple of great hitters in Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre, though, one is past his prime and the other is not yet in his prime (I’ll let you decide which is which).
The teams ahead of Texas in the walk department are the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays. Obviously, players like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Mike Trout carry much of the walk load for their respective teams. Houston is known to be a free swinging bunch; however, they have a number of guys that pitchers are willing to pitch around.
The Texas Rangers don’t have a hitter that walks to the plate and sees four out of five pitchers that are not even near the plate. They also don’t have a hitter that is often intentionally walked. Rather, their hitters are drawing walks the old-fashioned way. They are drawing walks by seeing a lot of pitches and being somewhat selective.
Young hitters are drawing walks
Four of the top five walk leaders for Texas are age 25 or younger. The veteran Shin-Soo Choo leads the team, but Joey Gallo ranks second with 24 base on balls, Mazara third with 22, Jurickson Profar fourth with 18 and Delino DeShields fifth with 17. The 23-year-old Isiah Kiner-Falefa has also impressed in the walk department, drawing 15 in just 45 games.
The patience shown from such young hitters is very promising. Explosiveness may not be the first thing that comes to mind for the Texas Rangers offense this season, but maturity is. For an offense that is among the youngest in baseball, fear and uncertainty do not exist throughout the nightly lineups. This bodes well for the future.
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Less experienced players should learn how to take advantage of deep counts as they progress. Right now it seems to come down to two outcomes more often than not: walk or strikeout. Eventually, guys should find more batting average success in favorable counts. They should also learn to take advantage of a pitcher once they’ve seen his entire repertoire in a single at-bat.
Walks will ultimately lead to more runs
Texas’ 254 runs scored ranks 8th in the American League. They are being held back by their .208 batting average with runners in scoring position. Moreover, 48 of the team’s 67 home runs are solo shots. That leaves just 19 homers with at least one runner on base. Frankly, they are not capitalizing on the high walk totals.
You would have to think this will change as the season continues. There is no way the Rangers can continue to perform so poorly with runners on, especially with Beltre back and Elvis Andrus set to return soon. Strikeouts will continue to be a problem, but if the Texas Rangers can continue to draw walks, they should eventually see an inflation in runs scored.
The lineup has been structured in a strange way. High on-base hitters like Profar and Kiner-Falefa have seen time in the third spot in the lineup. Ideally, those guys would hit in the one or two spots. Profar has been great at driving runners in so Jeff Banister would be wise to keep him in the fifth place in the batting order.
Again, Andrus will slide into the third place in the lineup once he returns and Beltre will hit fourth. We should see more consistency and more productivity once those two reunite in the heart of the order. Walkers should touch home plate at a greater rate soon enough.