Tagged: Texas Rangers

Handicapping Josh Hamilton’s Triple Crown Chances

Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton Has Battled Through diversity & Personal Demons To Chase His Dreams In Professional Baseball

Dan Szymborski has a column up today assessing Josh Hamilton’s triple crown chances.

While normally the type of stuff I’d expect to see on Bleacher Report, as Dan notes, Hamilton winning the triple crown is more likely than any other player in the game today.

He ran 100,000 simulations of the remainder of the season, taking Hamilton’s historic norms and projections for this season going forward, and …

After all the numbers are crunched, Hamilton remains essentially a coin-flip to lead the league in each of the Triple Crown categories … In the 100,000 seasons played, Hamilton won the Triple Crown 16.1 percent of the time, terrific odds for such a difficult feat.

Color me skeptical but I don’t see it being anywhere near that close.

There is a reason why it hasn’t happened since 1967 ya know. It’s kinda damn hard.

In fact, the hardest part about the crown is the RBI count, usually because the guys who have a combined high AVG with a ton of HRs are patient hitters who don’t expand the zone & are willing to take a walk.

Over the course of a season that leaves a lot of ducks on the pond for other guys to collect RBIs behind you.

The fact Hamilton is so aggressive & so willing to go out of the zone chasing hits makes him uniquely qualified to get those RBIs some triple crown candidates never would, but that type of behavior also tends to severely diminish your shot at a batting title.

Now on the flip side, add in the fact that he’s on a team with a ton of guys getting on base in front of him, one that turns the lineup over more than most teams (getting him more ABs) and it enhances his chances on the RBI count but it’s really hard to quantify just how much.

A huge possible stumbling point is the fact that in order to qualify for the batting title he will have to play in just about 140 games.

Over his 5 years in the major leagues he has played in over 133 games only once (2008) and in fact over a 100 games just one other year (2011).

Sadly, he ravaged his body with some hardcore stuff over the years & now both his immune system and ability to heal quickly has been shot to utter shit at an early age meaning this study is nothing more than an exercise in “if he stays healthy I think the odds are with him” speculation.

But that is one mighty big freakin’ ” IF”. A much bigger one than the 100,000 simulations would seem to indicate.

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UPDATE: Those Assclowns In Texas Want An Apology From Michael Kay

The engaged couple that has been vilified for snatching away a baseball that was intended for a toddler at Wednesday’s RangersYankees game say they have been treated unfairly. And they want an apology from the Yankees broadcaster whose comments helped make the video of the episode go viral.

“My fiance Shannon and I were honestly unaware of the situation of the little boy sitting next to us last night since we were so caught up in the excited and moment of being at our first Ranger‘s baseball game together,” Sean Leonard wrote in a statement posted by WFAA.

The child eventually was given another ball, but that didn’t stem the wave of online criticisms that came after Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay said on air, “Oh, my God, they can’t give it to the kid?”

Leonard was at the game with his fiance, Shannon Moore, whom he will wed on Saturday.

“It’s very hurtful, especially when you know you wouldn’t intentionally hurt somebody or hurt their feelings,” Moore said. “Especially when it’s a little-bitty toddler.”

As for Kay, Leonard said, “He took an event and sensationalized it, threw it out there, never checked or validated the facts.”

As for the toddlers parents, they said that after the hoopla had died down (and the couple had posed & preened with the baseball in front of the little tike for a decent chunk of time) Leonard & Moore offered the ball to the boy but they declined, choosing to use the moment as a teachable moment for their three year old.

To the parents I say kudos, take a bad situation and make the best of it, possibly teaching the little guy something in the process.

To the engaged couple who suffer from head-up-ass-syndrome (HUAS)…don’t make me laugh.

An apology?

For what?

For correctly pointing out the way you intercepted a ball that was tossed in the toddlers direction?

For correctly pointing out how completely oblivious to the toddlers tears you were as you preened & posed with the thing right in front of him, only adding to his emotional duress?

For failing to applaud you after it took you way too long to realize what was going on around you and to offer to do the “right thing”?

I have little doubt that the only reason you ever removed your heads from your collective asses was after one or more of your friends called/texted you to let you know what Grade A douchebags you looked like.

For me, nothing changed with any of the news I read today.

The issue wasn’t that they merely took the ball in the first place, it was as much about how clue-free & self-absorbed they were in the process.

A pair of people, so self-centered they couldn’t even realize something they had done launched a three year old into tears were very correctly identified as people of questionable character.

The fact that the toddlers parents tried to make the best of a bad situation does nothing to change my opinion of the couple & what transpired.

The vast majority of us, in that same situation would have a. noticed what transpired and b. handed the ball over to the child and enjoyed what would have been a wonderful reaction..a big, broad smile on the kid’s face, no doubt.

We can forgive a 3 year old for being self-centered, because at that age they all are.

We can’t look past a pair of supposed adults who couldn’t be bothered to hand over a cheesy souvenir in order to put a smile on a toddlers face.

I adore how some idiots replying to both my piece and others that have written about the matter seem to think the three year old was a brat who deserved to cry, as if somehow it’d “toughen him up” or teach him a life lesson ignore the most obvious thing.

There was indeed a lesson he could have learned in all of this.

One of kindness to strangers.

If he is so mentality developed that he could learn “can’t always get what ya want” then he was more than ready to learn “be kind unto others” now wasn’t he you jackasses?

Worst People Ever Catch Foul Ball, Refuse To Give It To A Crying Child, Are Vilified By Michael Kay

They say everything is bigger in Texas; assholes are not exempt from the rule.

Remember THIS clown at an Astros game two years ago? Well now, we have this bit of disgusting behavior at the RangersYankees tilt last night.

An unfortunate scene unfolded in Arlington tonight as a pair of Rangers fans caught a foul ball tossed into the stands by Mitch Moreland in the eighth inning of Rangers-Yankees, then refused to give the ball to the toddler sitting next to them — the intended recipient — instead choosing to pose for pictures and generally behave like douchebags.

Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay—capturing the thoughts of America for probably the first time ever—chided the couple for “rubbing it in the kid’s face,” and since this couple deserves to be publicly shamed for being dicks to a little kid, here they are.

Source: Deadspin

Is Yu Darvish Afraid To Throw Strikes?

By Rob Neyer@ Baseball Nation

After beating the Detroit Tigers Thursday night, Yu Darvishis 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA. He hasn’t allowed a single home run.

Pretty good, right?

Well, sure. Those numbers are pretty good. It’s some others that are just a tad worrisome. In his 17⅔ innings, Darvish has issued 13 walks. That’s a lot of walks, and essentially negates his 14 strikeouts. Well, balances in an ugly way, at least. So what’s with all the walks? Here’s FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron:

The main reason appears to be directly related to the first pitch of each at-bat. Darvish has thrown a first pitch strike to just 48% of the batters he’s faced – league average is 59%. Most pitchers, especially the good ones, are able to get ahead in the count with regularity and expand the zone from there. Darvish has had to pitch from behind in the count to 46 of the 88 batters he’s faced this year, and opposing batters are just choosing to lay off his hard-to-hit breaking balls and wait for a fastball that they know is coming eventually.

–snip–

In Japan, of course, this wasn’t Darvish at all. He walked just 1.4 batters per nine innings in 2011, and his ability to pound the zone while still missing bats is part of what made him so good. However, the quality of competition is clearly different in the Major Leagues, and to date, Darvish hasn’t shown the same ability to consistently throw his fastball for strikes.

It’s a fine line, perhaps, but I think the problem isn’t that Darvish can’t throw his fastball for strikes — especially to left-handed hitters — but rather that he won’t. I just don’t see any reason to believe that a pitcher who absolutely pounded the strike zone with great stuff in Japan would suddenly lose the ability to do the same thing here.

And make no mistake Rangers fans, we have seen this thing play out before with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

In 2008, far & away Dice-K’s best season he went 18-3 while posting a 2.90 ERA.

At face value this appears to be one hell of a season, but closer inspection reveals the ugly truth of it.

Because of his league leading 94 walks and insane penchant for “nibbling” around the plate he only managed 167 innings in 29 starts, or five & two-thirds inning per start. The Red Sox bullpen collapsed in September under a heavy workload caused by Wakefield and Matsuzaka’s short starts.

Sure, maybe his stuff just doesn’t play as well here. Maybe Japanese hitters chased a lot more pitches outside the strike zone. Maybe maybe maybe. Maybe Yu Darvish has exactly the same stuff, exactly the same skills, exactly the same talent that gave him a sub-2.00 ERA in each of his last four seasons in Japan. But maybe he doesn’t have the same confidence in his stuff and his skills and his talent when he looks plateward and sees, one after another, the Greatest Hitters on Earth.

So he’s staying away from those Earth’s Greatest Left-Handed Hitters, and to this point it’s sorta worked; he has that 3.57 ERA, and he hasn’t allowed a homer. Ultimately, though, he can’t maintain a 3.57 ERA while walking seven batters per nine innings. It’s possible, though, that he won’t figure that out until he takes a few bad losses.

Ultimately, he won’t be the pitcher the Rangers thought they were getting until he starts challenging left-handed hitters. And yes, giving up the occasional home run. That’s what happens over here, no matter who you are.

Will the BBWAA keep Pudge Rodriguez out of the Hall of Fame? Only God knows.

by

Any elite player’s retirement brings forth the question: will he make the Hall of Fame?  Pudge Rodriguez’s retirement is no different.  Of course, the answer to that question is more complicated.

On the merits he’s a no-brainer: He has the most games caught of any catcher, totaled nearly 3,000 hits, won an MVP award, a World Series MVP award and was arguably the best defensive catcher of all time. That’s normally a first-ballot ticket to Cooperstown.

But then there’s the PED problem.  As we’ve seen in recent years, players with any PED associations are basically blackballed from Hall of Fame consideration no matter how strong their on-the-field case is.  And that goes for those players who were admitted or documented users like Mark McGwire and for those who merely have whisper campaigns waged against them like Jeff Bagwell.

Basically, if a bunch of moralizing writers think you’re dirty, you’re not getting into the Hall of Fame.

So where does Pudge Rodriguez fall on that scale?  He was not named in the Mitchell Report. He has not been revealed to be on the famous list of 103 ballplayers who tested positive during baseball’s pilot testing program in 2004. He has not admitted to any PED use and hasn’t otherwise been brought into the greater PED scandal via legal action or the like.

But:

  • Jose Canseco wrote in his book that he personally injected Pudge with steroids;
  • When asked if he was on the list of 103, Rodriguez responded “Only God knows”;
  • He played for the Texas Rangers in the 1990s; and
  • His physique varied fairly radically over the years, with it being beefier pre-testing and noticeably smaller once testing was implemented.
  • Once he was fingered by Canseco not only did his physique change considerably, but he went from being a guy who hits over .300 with 20+ HRs to one who only sniffed .300 once and averaged around 13 HRs per season at best)

Did he do PEDs? Hell, I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if he did, but I don’t know for sure.

But I do know that while, in a court of law, all of those bullet points would represent circumstantial evidence at best, inadmissible hearsay at worst, Hall of Fame voting doesn’t operate at that standard. In the world of baseball, those bullet points — as well as any more or less reasonable suspicions that Pudge did, in fact, take PEDs — are more than enough to get writers to withhold votes.

And unless something happens to change the current pattern of Hall of Fame voting in the next five years — like, say, people electing Barry Bonds because, Jesus, it’s dumb to have a Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds — I think Rodriguez will be on the outside looking in for some time.

Mike Napoli posts insane storm video

Amid tornadoes touching down in North Texas, Texas Rangers players preparing for Tuesday night’s exhibition game against the Mexico City Diablos Rojos got a close look at the dangerous storms from the dugout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Catcher Mike Napoli tweeted a video taken from the Rangers dugout by catcher Zach Zaneski, a non-roster invitee still with the team for the exhibition game, that showed heavy winds and rain blowing the weather-protective tarp across the field.

“While they were out there, I was inside being safe,” Napoli said. “I’m not going outside in a tornado.”

The National Weather Service said Tuesday night it appears that six to 12 tornadoes touched down in North Texas. The tornadoes tore roofs off homes, and left flattened tractor trailers along highways and parking lots.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck issued a state of disaster declaration after the storms had moved through the area.

Zaneski said he and several other players who had arrived at the stadium early went to the dugout when they heard what was happening. He immediately pulled out his phone and started shooting some video.

The video showed dark clouds rolling through the sky above the stadium. Gusty and swirling winds lifted up the tarp that was covering the field.

“We were just videotaping the sky and all of a sudden it was almost like a train wreck, and the wind got so crazy inside the stadium and it started to pick the tarp up,” Zaneski said. “We didn’t see any funnel cloud, but you could see where it was picking the water from the tarp up and forming something.”

Such weather was a new experience for Zaneski, who is from Connecticut.

“The tarp was in the ground with stakes, and it just got pulled completely out,” he said. “Some of those stakes could have gone flying and we wouldn’t have even known. It was a lot more dangerous than we really thought.”

Team spokesman John Blake said there was no structural damage at the stadium.

Workers at Rangers Ballpark took shelter in hallways during a pair of tornado warnings when the strong storm front passed through the area hours before the game.

Ian Kinsler was on the way to the ballpark with teammate Michael Young when they saw the warnings on highway signs to take shelter immediately. The Rangers stars heeded the warning.

“We were on the way here and we turned back around and went back home,” Kinsler said before the Rangers’ 13-4 win.

Young said he and Kinsler left North Dallas early for the ballpark, and it was raining pretty hard before they saw the warning signs on the highway. Kinsler said there wasn’t any damage to their homes.

After waiting at Young’s house for about a half-hour while the storm passed, they picked up teammate Adrian Beltre and got to the stadium in plenty of time to prepare for the game. Young even napped while Kinsler drove.

“He just drove slow,” Young said. “I fell asleep on the way here. I trusted Kinsler.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

A Graphic Look at the Window to Win: Texas Rangers

From Beyond The Boxscore:

Just in time for prospect season, we take a look at the idea of “windows” and a team’s prime time to win. Inspired by what seems to be a once every three years rebuild for the Oakland Athletics, is there going to be a time where all their premier prospects hit and they’ll have the best chance to win? Here we present the pleasures of trying to maximize production during one’s service time.

25th in the series (we’re almost through all the teams!), we look at the Texas Rangers. We have a team ranked 3rd overall by John Sickels with 1 A-rated prospect and 13 B-rated prospects. There’s incredible depth, slightly leaning more on pitching than hitting. They rank 6th in Kevin Goldstein rankings and 7th in Keith Law’s 2012 organizational rankings. Sickels rating is the only one that included P Yu Darvish as a prospect. Here’s what Law has to say about their system and Darvish being excluded:

The Rangers have ranked highly the past few years — including No. 1 once — because of depth and ceiling, but they’re now more about the latter than the former. (Note that I don’t consider Yu Darvish or any player with Nippon Professional Baseball experience a “prospect” for the purpose of this ranking or the top 100.)

As we start looking at these perennial playoff contending teams rather than just the smaller payroll teams I’ve covered before, the question about the window changes. You’re probably asking the question, why would this matter since the Rangers made it to the World Series two years in a row? Do they stay strong in the same division as the Angels and prospect-heavy Athletics and Mariners?

 

Star-divide

This lineup remains largely unchanged from last season with the exception of swapping out P C.J. Wilsonwith P Yu Darvish. Using WARP, PECOTA projects Darvish outperforming C.J. Wilson:

2012 Projections (based off of Baseball Prospectus PECOTA)
Darvish: 4.2 WARP, 176.4 IP
Wilson: 3.5 WARP, 207.7 IP

Here’s what the Rangers roster projects to be in 2012:

*New acquisition, Current roster info from MLB Depth Charts

Starting Lineup
1 2B Ian Kinsler
2 SS Elvis Andrus
3 LF Josh Hamilton
4 3B Adrian Beltre
5 DH Michael Young
6 RF Nelson Cruz
7 C Mike Napoli
8 1B Mitch Moreland
9 CF Julio Borbon

Bench
C Yorvit Torrealba
IF Alberto Gonzalez*
OF Craig Gentry
OF David Murphy

Starting Rotation
1 RHP Colby Lewis
2 LHP Derek Holland
3 RHP Yu Darvish*
4 LHP Matt Harrison
5 RHP Neftali Feliz

Bullpen
CL RHP Joe Nathan*
SU RHP Mike Adams
SU RHP Alexi Ogando
MID RHP Koji Uehara
MID RHP Mark Lowe
MID RHP Yoshinori Tateyama
LR RHP Scott Feldman

Their top prospect, SS Jurickson Profar, a potential all-star, has an ETA of 2014. He eventually take over the starting SS role from Elvis Andrus when he comes up. Rangers blog Nolin Writin wrote about the future of the SS position last month and brought up a good point about the timeline:

If everything progresses as to track Profar will be in AAA Round Rock during the last year of Andrus’ contract. The Rangers won’t and shouldn’t keep two talents of that level at the same position. It would be in the best interest of the Rangers to trade him during the 2014 season for as much as they can get for him. If Andrus is allowed to become a free agent after 2014 he will not be coming back, and the price that he will be demanding will be enormous. What Ranger nation must prepare itself for is that time in the future when Elvis isn’t there. But for now enjoy him, I think he will come back at the same offensive level, if not better and much better defensively.

World Series berth and all in 2011, the Rangers finished with 96 wins and the AL West crown. The Baseball Prospectus projected standings has them finishing at about the same, but with 2 more wins, totaling 98.

If they can live up to their projections, the Rangers have a good chance at making it to the World Series again. The window is open until at least through the 2013 season. Much like I’ve mentioned in a few other projections, this depends on the future of OF Josh Hamilton and C Mike Napoli. If they both perform as they should this season, at least one should get an extension.