Mar 252011

Major Changes

The Rangers, of course, lost Cliff Lee to Free Agency. They signed Adrian Beltre to play third, putting Michael Young in the role of DH/utility infielder. They signed oft-injured Brandon Webb as a fifth starter. Scott Feldman and Frank Francisco are gone, and Hunter and Holland will both get to start the year in the rotation. Yorvit Torrealba will catch, and Mitch Moreland will get another shot to play first base. Vlad moved on.

Hitters 2010 B- 2011 A

Texas has always been known for their hitting, and the Ballpark at Arlington has always been a hitter’s park. So when your hitting rating is B-, in a non-park-adjusted stat, you don’t have all that good an offense. Actually, Texas scored the fifth most runs in MLB, but did not distribute them too well. But they won the AL pennant with an offense that got ZERO from three positions: they had replacement-level players at catcher, first base and center field. They replaced two of the three, and expect Borbon to get better (he is 25). I actually project them to improve substantially on offense, about 6 wins, which moves them from 42.5-38.5 to 48.5-32.5 which is an A.

Starters 2010 A- 2011 B-

But here we have a different story. The Rangers rotation was pretty amazing in 2010, and took them to the World Series. But you can’t really expect that Wilson and Lewis, who have never shown this kind of ability before (and are both in their thirties), will have another season like this one. Hunter and Holland are both young (and young pitchers can break your heart) and Brandon Webb hasn’t been a quality pitcher for a while, and is coming off surgery, though of course he could bounce back strong. Overall, I see the pitching as a few games worse than 2010.

Bullpen 2010 B 2011 B

The bullpen looks about the same as last year, and I project them to be about as good. Feliz was terrific, and is very young; he has yet to prove he can do it year after year, but is a good bet to repeat. Everyone else is a reasonable bet to be about as good, as well.

Summary 2010 B 2011 A-

I confess I went into this analysis with the clear expectation that the Rangers would decline. Teams that come from ordinary (or worse) to win 90 games regress 70-80% of the time; this, I thought, would be the Rangers fate. But I was surprised to realize just how much of last year’s success was pitching, and how much the offense appears to have improved (assuming Young is happy and therefore productive). This is a GOOD team, and the inevitable decline of the rotation is more than offset by the acquisition of Beltre and the replacement of Treanor and Smoak.

Charts

Player Position 2011 2010
Yorvit Torrealba Catcher 1.5 0.0 Treanor
Mitch Moreland First Base 1.0 0.0 Smoak
Ian Kinsler Second Base 4.6 3.2
Adrian Beltre Third Base 4.0 2.7 Young
Elvis Andrus Shortstop 1.5 1.0
Josh Hamilton Left Field 4.4 6.0
Julio Borbon Center Field 1.0 -0.1
Nelson Cruz Right Field 3.6 3.9
Michael Young Designated Hitter 2.8 2.1 Guerrero
24.4 18.8

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C.J. Wilson Starting Pitcher 2.5 4.6
Colby Lewis Starting Pitcher 2.0 3.6
Tommy Hunter Starting Pitcher 2.0 2.4
Derek Holland Starting Pitcher 1.5 0.3 Feldman
Brandon Webb Starting Pitcher 1.0 1.6 Lee
9.0 12.5

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Arthur Rhodes Relief Pitcher 0.5 0.8 Francisco
Darren O’Day Relief Pitcher 2.0 2.1
Alexi Ogando Relief Pitcher 1.0 1.7
Mark Lowe Relief Pitcher 0.0 -0.2
Darren Oliver Relief Pitcher 1.6 1.7
Neftali Feliz Closer 2.5 2.4
7.6 8.5

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