By: Hunter Holdridge
I will be kicking off a new segment covering the Texas Rangers. “Hunter’s Hot Corner” will feature weekly or even bi-weekly thoughts on the Texas Rangers. So let’s jump right into some thoughts on this Wednesday afternoon!
Hot off the press: If you didn’t stay up last night to watch that 3 hour and 22-minute thriller then you missed a classic. Critical of Ian Desmond last month, I am changing my tune on this guy. He continues to smoke the baseball and even when he doesn’t get on he’s still making productive hard outs. Desmond has raised his average to (.252), while smashing a 2 out triple to get the Rangers within 1 last night. In his past 7 games Desmond is hammering the baseball to the tune of an (.310) average and 6 RBI’s! Not only that, but just like the Rangers are glad to see Chicago leave, I’m sure the feeling is mutual for the Sox pitchers since Desmond is smashing them with to a tune of (.444) and 2 bombs in just 5 games..
The Hero: Ryan Rua continues to scorch the ball against lefties and I would like to see what he can do more against right handed pitching to see exactly what you’ve got with the kid. Down by 1 with 2 outs in the 8th, Rua stepped up and delivered a smash to straight away center for a 3-run bomb to give the Rangers the W.
Derek Holland??: I’m going to give him one more pass because the rain delay and the complications that brings for pitchers. He hasn’t looked sharp of late, and his velocity leaves a lot to be desired. Some of that last night was just Texas leaguers and bad luck, but often times he walks too many and gives up hard hits. He was pretty good in April as he went (3-1) with a (2.48) ERA. As the calendar turned over his past 2 starts have been forgettable. Posting an ugly (27.00) ERA and hasn’t made it out of the 3rd inning in either contests. His K:BB ratio is (1.66) on the season and an awful (1.56) WHIP. Those kinds of numbers won’t win you a lot of games and I’m sure the Ranger’s staff is keeping a close eye on him as his velocity and K rate continues to drop.
Where in the world is Prince Fielder?: Many writers, fans, and myself included have commented on his poor 2016 season and how something is not right with Prince. Here’s some interesting stats on Fielder’s 2016 season that’s cause for concern..
“According to FanGraphs, of the 192 players who qualify in plate appearances; Prince has been the 2nd LEAST valuable player in baseball.”
Fielder’s Offensive Runs above Replacement (oRAR) is currently -7 which is the worst in his career by far and the worst since his rookie season in 2005. (baseball-reference.com)
His HR% percentage is the lowest of his career (1.4%) and his SO% (18.3%) is the worst since 2010 while in Milwaukee (19.3%).
Fielder’s swing and miss rate with pitches in the zone are up this year and when he does get good pitches to drive he over swings and pulls off on the baseball. This results in weak grounders into the shift. Now some can be contributed to age or injury and those could be valid. Now if it’s not related to health or age then could we be looking at a 24 million dollar contract that bats around .200 and that’s not what the front office saw when they traded for him 2 years ago..
UPDATE: Bannister finally moved prince down a spot (5th) in the lineup to try and get him going and let guys like Ian Desmond take a crack at the 4 hole. Here’s there again today for the Sox finale..
2nd place in AL West: Texas is the only American League playoff team from last year with a winning record if you want to read anything into that. Trailing only the red hot Mariners (my sleeper team this year), Texas has a good combo of vets and young guys with a solid rotation.
2016 Team stats: Texas is 3rd in the AL in batting average (.261), 2nd in hits (302), 3rd in Slugging (.416), and 3rd in OPS (.735). The pitching staff is struggling as of late and mainly the bullpen. Although Texas is 2nd in the league in quality starts, their team ERA sits at (4.17) good enough for 9th in the AL. The most alarming number to watch is Texas leads the way for walks given up (126). Walks will haunt you and so far they have haunted the Rangers a good bit this season.
Upcoming Schedule: Off day on Thursday then they host the weekend series against the Jays, and I’m sure we’ll hear the crowd as they boo Baustista. Next week starts at 6 game road trip, first to Oakland for 3 then down to Houston for 3.
Prediction: Rangers take 2 of 3 from the Jays at home and then take the road trip (4-2). This would put Texas at (26-18) on the season and looking good going into a tough stretch of games.