Reevaluating the Rangers Offense

Dave Cameron mentioned it in his weekly blurb piece this morning, but I wanted to take some extra time to highlight the Texas Rangers, namely their offense.

I have mentioned the concept of numerical anchors a couple times already on this site and others, but as an extremely brief refresher, it basically describes how it is our nature to form opinions around extremes and around first impressions. This is why grounded analysts have to work so hard to point out small sample sizes. I am writing today to try to dispel another potential anchor around the baseball community, that the Texas Rangers have a potent offense. Now, the critical part of this statement rests on the park factors for The Ballpark in Arlington (TBiA). Over the years, TBiA has consistently ranked as one of the most hitting friendly parks out there and its’ effects have colored how many people have seen the Rangers offense.

One only needs to compare two different numbers to see this. The Rangers have a team wOBA of .342 as published here. That ranks 7th in baseball. That seems pretty potent, doesn’t it? Turn them to Batting value, which is the park adjusted version of wOBA translated into runs above or below average and suddenly the Rangers, at 12.2, drop to 11th in baseball. Okay, so not world beaters certainly, but hey, they are above average still, right? Well, except we are still ignoring the league differences. The NL essentially punts a batting slot every game. The difference between the average NL wOBA and the average AL wOBA is around 10 points so far this year and is usually about five or six points. Counting just AL teams, the Rangers actually rank 8th out of 14th, below average.

This is not just limited to FanGraphs’ interpretations of the stats either. At StatCorner.com, where I make use of the wOBA formula without a running game element and park factors developed by David Gassko at The Hardball Times, the Rangers check in with a .339 park-adjusted wOBA to a league average of .341. Baseball Prospectus ranks the Rangers as having the 8th best EQA in the AL and 16th overall.

The Rangers had a torrid start to the season at the plate, but they have had some very ugly stretches since. After May 17th, the Rangers had won seven in a row and sat 4.5 games clear in the AL West with a 23-14 record having scored 5.65 runs per game. Since then, the Rangers are 12-13 and the scoring has dropped to just 4.04 runs per game. Michael Young has a .673 OPS, Josh Hamilton .696 and now he’s gone for a month or two. Chris Davis has struck out 38 times in just 80 plate appearances since May 17th. Andruw Jones is hitting .200/.260/.444. About the only person who has continued hitting is Nelson Cruz who is still proving people stupid for letting him rot in Triple-A for so long.

The entire sample of the 62 games that we have seen this season paints the picture that most projection systems thought they would see, the Rangers have awful pitching supported somewhat by an improved defense, and a roughly average offense. That is not a recipe for winning a division usually, but this year’s AL West is no usual division and Texas may yet hold on. Just know that it should be a closer race than it might seem now and remember to constantly check yourself before falling back on opinions formed early in the season.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


7 Responses to “Reevaluating the Rangers Offense”

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  1. t ball says:

    Thank you for that. Many Ranger fans are tired of national media (and even some local writers who should know better) reflexively reporting that the mighty Ranger bats are going to have to carry the pitching, or some such nonsense.

    Do Gassko’s ballpark figures break out into splits? We’ve had a few discussion about this over at Lone Star Ball and someone posted these numbers from the Bill James Handbook:
    LHB – avg : 100
    LHB – hr : 124
    RHB – avg : 103
    RHB -hr : 99

    These numbers match the eyeball test of watching 15 years of ballgames there — the park loves lefties, righties not so much. Perhaps it’s a bit too simple to call the park a hitters’ heaven? Do the lefty numbers skew the total with that friendly right field porch?

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  2. Fresh Hops says:

    I don’t even know why the rangers offense is a point right now. Their run production is fine, in the top third in baseball and about where you’d expect.

    Their pitchers are so over their heads it’s not even funny. Millwood has an ERA under 3, but so is his K/BB ratio. He’s the tip of the Texas pitching iceberg whose underside shall eventually surface.

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    • R M says:

      Their park is so hitter friendly that you can’t just look at how many runs they’ve scored….that’s the whole point of the article. If you compare how the Rangers are hitting at Arlington and then compare how their opponents are hitting at arlington, the Rangers wouldn’t be above average at all, judging by the numbers in this article.

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  3. dbuff says:

    Of course the Rangers production is down since the middle of May. Kinsler is a career .286 hitter who hit .243 in May and now .184 in June. Young is a career .300 hitter hitting .245 this month. Hamilton is out and played hurt a good part of the time before he went on the DL. Few people forecast that Davis would hit .208. The jury is out on Davis but past performance says that the production from Kinsler, Young and Hamilton will improve significantly. The Rangers led the majors in runs scored at home last year. They also led the majors in runs scored on the road last year. By what definition is that average?

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  4. dbuff says:

    Matthew How many runs would the Rangers offense have scored at home last year had they had the pleasure of hitting against the Rangers pitching staff?

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  5. Thundercat32 says:

    Damn good point Dbuff and a HUGE oversite from the author of this article. For the author was the objective of this article to be objective or was it to present a slant against the Rangers?

    FYI, the Cowboys offense if you look at it from weeks 7-9 of last season sucked too. Romo is missing the Cowboys offense is downgraded and you compare it to the rest of the NFL they don’t look like they are living up to their vaunted reputation. Granted when Romo did return (probably never at 100%) the offense still struggled, but it was better. And weeks 7-9 were definitely the low point.

    This is the Rangers low point of the season. If you want to be fair and compare their low point to the rest of the league. Lets do so by taking their best hitter out of the lineup and then factor a league average that way. Or better yet lets take a look at the Rangers offense in August, September, and October (assuming there are no more injuries) and lets see how they rate against the rest of the league in those months.

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