A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.
Number Seventeen: Texas Rangers
Say hello to either the most balanced or the most unbalanced team in the majors in 2008 depending on how you view it. The Rangers had the widest disparity between their ranks of runs scored and runs allowed allowed, finishing first in the former and last in the latter. On the other hand, according to BaseRuns the Rangers came in with 917 runs scored and… 917 runs allowed.
The offense was legit, even after adjusting for the launching pad that is Arlington. The Rangers did a fantastic job of avoiding black holes in the lineup. Ben Broussard and German Duran were about the only exceptions and they were minor at that. Countering their meager negative contributions were massive positive contributions from newcomers Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, and Chris Davis. Marlon Byrd had another fine season as well, showing some results after all the potential in Philadelphia and Washington.
On the flip side of those players additions at the plate were their detractions in the field. The Rangers ranked dead last or, at minimum, well below average in most every advanced defensive metric. They were so pitiful that they wiped out a healthy chunk of their offensive gains.
On the pitching front, the bullpen was a mixed bag with a few bright spots amongst a mostly drab collection. Luis Mendoza and Frank Francisco were both helpful members and Jamey Wright was about dead average which, over the amount of innings he kept away from the worse members of the pen, counts him among the better relievers.
The rotation, on the other hand, could have used a huge helping of just average. One of the worst overall units in baseball this past season, the Rangers’ starters did see slight rebound years from Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, but given their sad state in 2007 that’s not saying much. Even that small piece of good news has a cloud behind it in that both of their groundball rates saw a decline this year, painting a potential bad sign for things to come.
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