The two-time American League champion Texas Rangers visit Fenway Park for a short two-game series. For years, the analysis of the Texas Rangers said “all bat, no pitching.” Today they can pitch, and pitch well.
STARTING PITCHERS – Colby Lewis and Derek Holland
The 2011 season for Colby Lewis (facing Jon Lester on Tuesday night) was a statistical enigma. The single stat that drives the analysis of Lewis’s 2011 season is not an advanced one: he gave up 35 home runs. However, his xFIP was 4.10, which was lower than his ERA of 4.40, telling us that Lewis was a bit unlucky HR-wise and should have allowed fewer HRs than he did. But his BABIP was .265, which indicates that Lewis was actually lucky when it came to balls in play (obviously those not near a fence). In short, if Lewis can improve his ugly 34.1% ground ball rate and keep the ball anywhere in the park, he could well improve in 2012.
Derek Holland (against Josh Beckett on Wednesday evening) went 16-4 in 2011 but seemed to be a statistically average pitcher. Holland had a 3.95 ERA versus a 3.94 FIP (so his fielders had very little effect on his pitching results). He had an xFIP of 3.76, so he probable should have given up a couple of homers fewer than he did (fairly normal). His BABIP was .305, only slightly above the expected average of .300, so it can’t be said that he was either lucky or unlucky pitching-wise. So how do we explain Holland’s 16-4 record? Here’s how – it wasn’t because of him. Derek Holland was lucky in this respect: he led the Major Leagues with 7.64 runs scored for him per nine innings pitched. The Texas hitters did the work and Holland got the credit.
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Michael Young, DH
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. David Murphy, LF
8. Mike Napoli, C
6. Mitch Moreland, 1B
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
Finally jumping into 2012 stats, Josh Hamilton (3/90/.381/.756) and “Mr. Classy” Michael Young (.366/.366/.488) have started out strong, while Mike Napoli (.125/.267/.250) and Mitch Moreland (.150/.227/.300) have not.
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama is on the 15-day DL with a lower back sprain and is expected to return in late April.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
The Red Sox took three out of four against the Tampa Bay Rays. Just imagine the furor over Bobby Valentine’s comments about Kevin Youkilis had the Sox lost three of four. One thing I’ve noticed about Bobby V’s managerial style is that he does seem to have the knack of placing the right position player into the lineup at the right time. However, I’d rather have Grady Little making decisions regarding the pitchers. Bobby V’s slow hook in removing Daniel Bard cost the Red Sox the game yesterday, and he’s already admitted that he lost them a game with bad bullpen management. We’re 10 games in and 2 losses can be blamed on Bobby V. It is said that a good manager puts a team in a position to win. Valentine does that with the hitters but (so far) has not with the pitchers.
With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange, California, USA, North America, Earth, Milky Way having improved, the Texas Rangers will have to pitch and hit every bit as well as they have in the past two years to have continued success. If Yu Darvish can replace C.J. Wilson, they will pitch as well as they have. If Josh Hamilton stays healthy and, well, you know, they will hit as well as they have.