Jun 012012
 

Texas Rangers Look to Reignite Winning Ways out West, vs. AL West Rival Anaheim AngelsAfter taking two-of-three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last month in Arlington, the Texas Rangers now travel to the “Big A” to see if they can take another series from their hated division rivals.

For the Rangers (31-20) it may appear as though the time is ripe for a quick sweep of the ankle-biting Angels (26-26).

After all, the Angels just lost everyone’s favorite crooner, their staff ace, Jered Weaver, to a back injury. Despite the loss of Weaver, the Angels have been the hottest team in the AL not named the Chicago White Sox.

They’ve managed to win eight of their last ten games as Pujols was somehow plucked from his personal sea of suck.

Don’t take off that lifejacket yet, Poo, it’s a loooong season.

Over his last 10 games, “Captain Poo” has seen his batting average rise 31 points—all the way up to .243. He’s also hit five home runs over that span, giving him 8 on the year.

However, the Poo-meister has only managed a less-than-stellar .167 batting average against the Rangers with one solitary RBI during the regular season.

Rangers ready to take a bite out of the Angels:

Mike Napoli. He’s batting .362/450/.754 with 6 HRs and 10 RBI lifetime against the Halos. Naps also has 54 HRs and 140 RBI while playing in the “Big A.”

Josh Hamilton. This season, “Hambone” is batting .462 with 3 HRs and 6 RBI against LAA. In his career at the “Big A” he’s gone: .317/.372/.591 with 13 HRs and 48 RBI.

Ian Kinsler. Kinsler has always hit well in Anaheim. His .303/.389/.520 with 13 HRs and 44 RBI certainly validate that point. Although he hasn’t done much yet this year against the Halos, you get the feeling that this sleeping giant is about to awaken…and he might be pissed.

• This season, Nelson Cruz has had a series of ups-and-downs, slumps and mini-slumps. Throughout it all his favorite whipping boys have been the Angels, and he’s gone .545/.643/.909 with a HR and 6 RBI thus far. In his career, “Boomstick” has 14 HRs with 45 RBI against the hated Halos.

Tonight’s Matchup: RH Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.58 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 vs. RH Jerome Williams (5-2, 3.81 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, K/9: 5.8)

Lewis

Lewis is coming off a no-decision at home against Toronto in which he skirted trouble throughout his 5.1 innings pitched. He scattered 10 hits without issuing a walk and struck out 6.

This is “Colbyashi’s” first appearance against the Angels this season. However, the current roster is batting just .205 off of him over his career.

Loves to face: Albert Pujols (.143), Torii Hunter (.125, 5 Ks) and Howie Kendrick (.176, 7 Ks).

Hates to face: Peter Bourjus (.313), and Mark Trumbo (.400, 1 HR, 4 RBI).

Williams

Jerome Williams is one of just five active Hawaiian-born major leaguers (of the five, he and the Rangers’ own Scott Feldman are the only pitchers.) The Honolulu native was a former 1st Round Draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 1999.(39th overall pick).

In his last start, Williams earned the victory against the Seattle Mariners by scattering five hits over his six innings pitched with 5 Ks and 2 BBs.

The burly right-hander didn’t fare nearly as well in his most recent start against the Rangers. He luckily escaped with the no-decision as he was hit hard and often during his May 11th start at the Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington. All told, he lasted 6 2/3 innings but surrendered 6 ER on 11 hits with just 3 Ks and 2 BBs.

Overall, the Texas Rangers are batting a ridiculous .473 off of Williams—here’s hoping that’s a trend that will continue tonight.

Loves to Face: Elvis Andrus (0-for-5 lifetime).

Hates to Face: Just about everyone else…but here’s a short list:*

Nelson Cruz (.800/.857/1.833, 2 HRs, 6 RBI)
Craig Gentry (.750/.750/1.250, 2 RBI)
Josh Hamilton (.667/.600/2.667, 2 HRs, 3 RBI)
Adrian Beltre (.500/.500/.900, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
Mike Napoli (.429/.429/1.143, 1 HR).

*Yes, believe it or not, the slash lines are not mere hyperbole; they are really real…no, really.

Have fun with that, Mr. Williams.

Currently, the Texas Rangers lead the Angels by 5.5 games in the AL West. Worst case scenario, if the Rangers are swept, they’ll still be up by 2.5 games. But it’d be a whole lot more fun to pull off the sweep and have that lead where it should be: 8.5.

The first pitch tonight is scheduled for 9:12 PM (CST).

Go Rangers!

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Feb 182012
 

This is the final round of our American League West Position Rankings.  To see how we got to our current standings/scores, be sure to check out the first three round.

Score at the end of Round 3:

    1. Rangers: 53
    2. Angels: 49
    3. Mariners: 26
    4. Athletics: 22

The primary reason for doing a full review of the American League West, rather than a Rangers vs. Angels review, was to provide a better reference point for how a player truly stacks up against his peers.  That said, the Rangers and the Angels have dominated the top two spot at most positions (exceptions being DH and CF).  The final round will consist of all facets of each team’s pitching, including 5 rotation spots, relief and the closer position.  Similar to the adjustments we made to the scoring for Manager and DH, we’re going to increase the weighting for the relief position since that is made up of a handful of pitchers and not just one.

Starting Pitching

We’re going to go through the starting 5 for each team’s rotation and stack them up against each other.  In order to avoid making assumptions around the rotation order, I’m going to be the using the depth charts for each team that they have posted on their team’s website.  They seem to be pretty accurate as to what most would think, with the exception of a few.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The Ace

  1. Jered Weaver, LAA
    1.  Felix Hernandez, SEA
  2. Colby Lewis, TEX
  3. Brandon McCarthy, OAK

Only real debate lies between the top two here, and I’ve gone back and forth on the order of these two guys quite a bit over the last few days.  It’s very close, but I give Weaver the slight edge, no I give it to Felix, no Weaver…you get the point.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresYou could debate for days over who will have a better year in 2012, and in the end, I think they will both have dominating years where they finish in the top 8 in Cy Young voting.  With that said, I’m going to give them both the top spot from a points perspective, and I’m going to give them both the bonus point.  It’s not a knock on Colby Lewis, it’s just how good these two guys are.

The #2

  1. Dan Haren, LAA
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Dallas Braden, OAK
  4. Jason Vargas, SEA
2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresI’d love to give Yu the nod here, and this is one where I could dispute the order of the rotation, as I envision Darvish being the 3rd starter and Holland pitching 2nd, but it wouldn’t really matter, as Haren has an edge on both of them given the unknowns around Darvish and the need for continued development with Holland. While I think Darvish is capable of putting up similar numbers to what Haren delivered in 2011 (16 W’s, low 3 ERA, low WHIP), Haren has proven what he can do at the MLB level and takes the top spot here.Darvish takes the second spot in the rankings over a rehabbing Dallas Braden and a mediocre Jason Vargas.

You could make an argument for putting Vargas in the third spot, but I think Braden is the better pitcher if he can bounce back from injury successfully (and word is he is ahead of schedule).

The #3

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresC.J. Wilson, LAA
  2. Derek Holland, TEX
  3. Brett Anderson, OAK
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA

This is another close race between the top two, and I know my fellow Ranger fans are throwing their hands up in the air as they look at the ranking, but if I put my bias aside and look at the two  pitchers, I lean towards C.J. having a slightly better campaign in 2012.

Baseball Do followers probably don’t want to hear this, but I think C.J. is going to improve slightly in 2012, primarily due to his new ballpark and being closer to home – which you could argue that his pitching ability isn’t really improving, but rather his conditions are.

I also believe that Holland is going to take the next step in his progression towards being a front-line MLB starter.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year down the stretch and of course in showing us all that he could one day be an Ace with his performance in Game 4 of the World Series.  All that said, he needs to prove that he can put a full season together, avoiding a slow start and showing more consistency.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #4

  1. Neftali Feliz, TEX
  2. Ervin Santana, LAA
  3. Blake Beavan, SEA
  4. Brad Peacock, OAK
Not going to spend a ton of time on these next two spots.  If you don’t already know how we feel about Feliz and what we expect from him production-wise in 2012, check out “The Other New Guy”.  Santana is a very good #4, but I think Feliz will have a better year.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #5

  1. Matt Harrison, TEX
  2. Jarrod Parker, OAK
  3. Jerome Williams, LAA
  4. Charlie Furbush, SEA
We all know how good of a pitcher Matt Harrison is, primarily because his case has been stated so often as a reason for not signing Roy Oswalt.  For many teams, he is easily a mid-rotation guy, and far outpaces the other three pitchers on this list, and for that get’s the bonus point.
I give Parker the edge over Williams on speculation of what Parker could become vs. what we know of Jerome Williams.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

Relief (not including Closer)

Given the importance of the bullpen and the fact the bullpen is generally made up of 6-8 pitchers, we are going to adjust the scoring for this position by multiplying it by two.

Keep in mind, that the names representing each team’s bullpen could change between now and Opening Day, and obviously by mid-season or season’s end.  That said, I’m going to try to avoid too much speculation with prospects and trades.

  1. Adams, Uehara (or maybe Mike Gonzalez…), Feldman, Ogando, Tateyama, Lowe – TEX
  2. Downs, Hawkins, Takahashi, Thompson, Cassevah, Bell, Mills, Jepsen – LAA
  3. Devine, Balfour, Fuentes, Wagner, Blevins, Carignan, Godfrey, De Los Santos – OAK
  4. Kelley, Wilhelmsen, Ruffin, Delabar, Sherrill, Jimenez – SEA
You could write an entire article breaking down the bullpens, but this is not the place.  The Rangers take the top spot primarily based on depth.  Downs and Adams are both top-notch set-up men, from there I think the depth of the Ranger bullpen gives them the edge.  They still need another left-handed specialist to replace Darren Oliver, which could be Mike Gonzalez, whom they are rumored to sign after they deal Koji Uehara.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresCloser

  1. Brandon League, SEA
  2. Jordan Walden, LAA
  3. Joe Nathan, TEX
  4. Whoever, OAK
Three years ago, JoeNathan is the clear cut leader on this list and easily gets the bonus point.  That was then.  Now Nathan has something to prove, and while I’m fairly optimistic that Nathan will serve as a strong closer, I think Walden and League rank higher until Nathan proves it.I went back and forth between League and Walden for the top spot here.  League was better last year, and while I think Walden will get more saves than him in 2012, it’s going to be based on the fact that he will be presented with many more opportunities.  The better number to look at here is Save% (Saves/Opportunities), where League (88%) outshines Walden (76%) and I think he’ll continue to do so in 2012.

Final Score of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings

  1. Rangers: Score After 3 Rounds of 53 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 8 + 2 = 80
  2. Angels: Score After 3 Rounds of 49  + 5 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 6 + 3 = 76
  3. Mariners: Score After 3 Rounds of 26 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 42
  4. Athletics: Score After 3 Rounds of 22 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 36
There you have it.  On paper, according to Baseball Do, the Rangers should win the American League West in 2012.  And while I’m always on board with victory for the Rangers, the best part of all the time and work that went into these rankings and write-ups is that the games still have to be played on the field.

Keep in mind as well, that all four of these teams could look different by the trade deadline, with the Rangers and Angels both of some attractive pieces they could move in order improve, and the Mariners and Athletics have some attractive veterans they could deal in an effort to add youth.

My honest belief is that this is going to be one hell of a season for the Rangers and the Angels, which will come down to the final week, if the not the final 2-3 games.  The final series between the two is here in Arlington, September 28th through 30th, so get your tickets for those games now, as the entire season could hinge on those three games.  As fans, let’s just enjoy the ride.  A ride which will hopefully continue into the post-season for the Rangers and end with the ultimate reward…

‘case that’s the way baseball go…

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

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