Game 1 ALCS Preview: Texas Rangers

Here are a few notes I have on today’s game and the entire series.


The Rangers need to take notice that the weather is cooling down and batted balls will not travel as far when hit. As Robert Adair notes in the Physics of Baseball, a 400 foot fly ball hit to center field will travel four feet less for every ten degrees in temperature drop. The temperature for today’s game is projected to be about 10 degrees cooler than many of the late season night games. Acknowledging this change is especially important when the Rangers are at home. All players should be running as if the ball is in the park until they know for sure that they hit a home run.


The umpires have been announced for the series and they probably will work home plate in the following order: Gerry Davis, Tony Randazzo, Jim Reynolds, Angel Hernandez, Fieldin Culbreth, and Brian Gorman. Game one’s home plate umpire, Gerry Davis, has one of the smallest strike zones in the league. Here is a comparison of Davis’s, Tony Randazzo’s (umpire in the crew closest to a standard zone) and Brian Gorman’s (most pitcher friendly umpire of the crew) strike zones for right and left handed hitters.

The scale given is the ratio of called strikes to the total number of called strikes and balls. The box is the rule book strike zone with the inner circle for reference only.

Right Hand Hitters

Gerry Davis

Tony Ranazzo

Brian Gorman

Left Handed Hitters

Gerry Davis

Tony Ranazzo

Brian Gorman

C.J. Wilson, or any pitcher throwing today, will not be getting any borderline pitches called strikes because of Davis’s small zone. Pitchers are going to have to pick their poison of either pounding the small zone or walking a few batters.

In-Season Starting Pitcher Match-up Results:

The Yankees were able to single C.J. Wilson to death in the three games he pitched against them. He was only able to make it 14.1 innings over 3 starts (one start was a complete game though). The reason he struggled wasn’t because of control (he had a K/9 of 9.4 and a BB/9 of 1.67). Instead, the Yankees had a BABIP against him of .400. Of the 18 hits against Wilson, only three were extra base hits and those were all doubles. C.J. looks like he pitched fairly decent against the Yankees and was a little unlucky with the high percentage of batted balls ending up as hits.

CC Sabathia owned the Rangers in the one game he faced them this season. Over six innings he allowed three hits, no walks, one run and struck out nine in the process. It was a fairly dominate dismantling of  the Rangers by CC. Hopefully the Rangers do a little better today.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

24 Responses to “Game 1 ALCS Preview: Texas Rangers”

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  1. Terry says:

    “Hopefully the Rangers do a little better today.”

    +1 to you

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    • phoenixnyy says:

      nice comparison of umps. I havent seen that before. Given lee a huge strike zone will be death to the yanks with his masterful control. Try to keep things as biased as possible though when doing a piece for an analytical site though. Hopefully it’s a good game might be fairer. I know its the texas preview (there is no yankees preview per usual) but at least pretend at impartiality?

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      • nicoletti_13 says:

        Come on, just because the content is supposed to be unbiased doesn’t mean we can’t root! It’s supposed to be fun, remember? GO YANKEES!!!!

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      • JR says:

        If you want a Yankee preview, you could always try every other sports website on the internet

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      • JohnnyK says:

        Lee is already pretty masterful without the help of a larger zone. So I’d say this is more of a help for Pettitte, who would have more trouble with a small zone.

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      • phoenix says:

        I am not that upset about it, just so you know. I was just commenting that analysis and rooting for a team should be separate. And that most times the analysis is skewed against the yankees. I understand that most people hate the yankees because of their payroll and arrogance from winning so often, but that should be put aside when analyzing a matchup or previewing a game.

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      • tom says:

        Agree with JohnnyK

        A bigger strikezone levels the playing field between pitchers. Since Lee has such good control he would likely be less impacted by a small zone. Though Pettitte is not exactly a wild pitcher, his stuff is not as good so he may be able to gain more from having a wider/bigger strikezone.

        To put it to an extreme if you had Lee vs Burnett and were a Ranger fan would you prefer a big strikezone called or a small one?

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  2. Mike Ketchen says:

    Awesome post, the ump zone breakdown was great.

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  3. Bay Slugga says:

    Where can I find these charts on umpire strike zones? Very cool.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      I have my own personal application that creates them.

      Hopefully if everything goes as planned, they will be available for everyone this winter. The main hurdle is that they are very processor intensive.

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  4. Hunter says:

    I could see that small zone hurting C.J. Wilson a lot more than Sabathia. He walks a fair amount of people already.

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  5. bill says:

    Wow, Tony Ranazzo has a very odd looking heat map (especially for lefties).

    These are awesome by the way, and exactly why fangraphs is great.

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  6. Steve says:

    CJ’s cg vs NY was a 6 inning, 100+pitch, rain shortened game.

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  7. TIM says:

    Just a note. the 4/16 game where CJ lost to CC (6IP 3ER) he was still recovering from food poisoning.

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  8. Ben says:

    Where in the world did you come up with CJ Wilson having “had a K/9 of 9.4 and a BB/9 of 1.67” against the Yanks in his 3 starts this year? Wilson had 9 walks in his 14.1 innings against the Yanks this year, a far cry from a BB/9 of 1.67 you cite. Also, while technically Wilson did have a complete game against the Yanks this year, saying that as evidence of pitching him having pitched well against the Yanks is more than a bit misleading given that it was a rain-shortened game 6 inning game in which Wilson went 6 innings, struck out 5, gave up 3 walks, and allowed 5 runs (3 earned). While CJ Wilson may very well do fine against the Yanks in this series, looking at his 3 starts from this season certainly isn’t strong evidence in making that case.

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  9. kenny.bross7 says:

    Hey All,
    I am attempting to do an Econometric analysis on pitching limit increases and the pitchers corresponding days on the disabled list as well as his performances for a college class. I found that this guy had codified all disabled list data for 2010 and I was wondering if he has done it for previous years or if anyone knew where I could find this information. If anyone has any information you can email me at

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