Stacking up the Runs Created

One of the things I keep harping on about is the Rangers pitching, and how they need to upgrade there a lot more than they need to work on the hitting. In a recent post, I showed how the hitting has been fairly decent for the 2000s, but the pitching has dragged the team down. I calculated that the hitting has been winning them in the mid to high 80s in games each year, but the pitching has been winning them anywhere from the low 60s to 82 at best. Clearly the pitching is the trouble spot. Clearly I am not the first to say this, and I won’t be the last. But clearly management doesn’t seem to be listening. Any improvements they make, and almost all the talk they talk, has been about the hitting side of the equation. Okay, so the Rangers sank to their worst hitting level in the 2000s this year, with 83 hitting wins, but as noted above, their best pitching was only 82 wins (and in 2007 it was 75). Pitching is all that counts for the Rangers.

But, since they only care about hitters, I thought I’d look at hitters too. This study is team by team and position by position Runs Created in 2007. It uses the simplest version of Runs Created (Hits + Walks * Total Bases/At-Bats + Walks), because that is the data easily available and easily calculable. Thus it ignores things like baserunning, and the different variables in hitting, and also park factors, but it is still comparing apples to apples so it is relatively useful. What I am trying to look at is the Runs Created for each team at each position, and see how the Rangers compare at each position, and thus where they need to improve. Note that these are team totals, not for any specific player.

Okay, this post is going to contain my first try at tables, so let’s find out how they will look. We’ll start with catcher:

Team

Runs Created

NYY

119

CLE

110

MIN

85

SEA

81

DET

79

BOS

75

TEX

62

BAL

60

TOR

58

LAA

58

CHW

58

OAK

57

TB

55

KC

54

No big surprises there. The Yankees with Posada and the Indians with Martinez dominate. If you play fantasy baseball, you know that the rule is grab one of the top few catchers, or don’t bother because the rest are pretty much all the same. The surprise really is that the Rangers are right in the middle, despite the poor year with the bat that Laird had. The good news is that if the Rangers hand the reins over to Salty, as expected, they’ll probably improve by 10 runs based on this year’s numbers. On to first base:

Team

Runs Created

TB

138

BAL

98

MIN

98

OAK

95

BOS

95

CHW

94

CLE

93

DET

90

LAA

90

TEX

87

KC

81

NYY

81

TOR

77

SEA

70

Everyone knows the monster season that Carlos Pena had. This illustrates it very well, he was far and away the best first baseman in the AL in 2007. Once again, Texas was right in the middle, with just 11 runs separating them from second place. But this is an illusion. The Mark Teixeira factor was huge. Tex in fact had 58 of those runs, despite having less than half the at-bats. The rest of the first basemen for the Rangers were useless. Put it this way: if Tex had had all the at-bats, he would have scored 125 RC, putting him closer to Pena than to anyone else. If Tex had had none of the at-bats, the rest of the first basemen would have put up 58 RC, significantly worse than anyone else. Yes, that is how much of a difference Teixeira made. In 2008 they’re again going with a bunch of stiffs at first, and look to see them looking up at the rest of the league. This is one position where the Rangers need a huge upgrade before beginning to contend.

On to second base:

Team

Runs Created

DET

111

NYY

105

TB

103

BOS

102

BAL

101

TOR

95

LAA

92

KC

91

OAK

89

TEX

81

CHW

73

MIN

65

SEA

61

CLE

60

I don’t know why I had the impression that Ian Kinsler was so good, when second basemen for the Rangers were so poor. In truth, some of the dreck they put out there (Hairston, Desi Freaking Relaford) were so bad, they dragged things down. Not worried about this position, as Kinsler ages he is going to get better, and I could see him lifting himself by 10 RC next year, which would put him on the fringes of the top players at second.

Third base:

Team

Runs Created

NYY

150

BOS

119

SEA

102

TB

92

OAK

87

BAL

86

LAA

86

TOR

84

CLE

80

KC

76

TEX

69

DET

64

CHW

60

MIN

57

I like Hank. If only he could put it together for a full season, like we continue to think he could. Third was just like first, except it was occupied by bad players because of injury, not trade. Again, if Blalock had played the whole season there, he’d have put up 110 RC, putting him in the top three. If he hadn’t had a single at-bat, Vazquez and Metcalf would have gotten 48 RC, by far the worst in the league. At least in this case, Hank will be back at third so we don’t need someone to fill in. Oh yeah, there was some rich jerk who did pretty well for the Yankees at this position.

On to short, and Michael Young:

Team

Runs Created

NYY

111

BAL

102

TEX

99

DET

95

CLE

87

LAA

87

SEA

72

TB

71

BOS

64

OAK

63

MIN

63

CHW

60

KC

56

TOR

47

Best position on the team, but as I’ve stated before, he’s only going to get worse as he ages. Still, he has enough room to decline and still be useful to the team. He’ll probably be above average for the position for the next couple of years, which is hopefully the point by which he will have been traded, when his whining about contending reaches fever pitch.

Left was a sore spot:

Team

Runs Created

NYY

118

BOS

114

SEA

113

LAA

109

TB

108

OAK

96

TEX

89

TOR

84

CLE

77

CHW

75

DET

68

MIN

67

KC

64

BAL

58

But it wasn’t as sore as they seemed to think. Right in the middle of things. Given the number of players who trundled through, they were not as badly served as Ron Washington’s comments made out, when he seemed to dismiss all the outfielders at the end of the year, and suggest someone new be brought in. It’s probably going to be Murphy and Byrd out there in 2008 most of the time, can they continue their success? And for center:

Team

Runs Created

DET

128

SEA

111

CLE

109

MIN

105

TEX

94

TB

90

NYY

85

LAA

80

KC

79

BOS

79

TOR

78

BAL

78

OAK

77

CHW

62

In 2008 Milton Bradley will be getting the call here. Can he do a Lofton job for us? Once again, surprisingly high in the charts despite the mixing and matching of players, so looking for Bradley to provide a much bigger boost is not necessarily the best of tacks to make. Over in right, a position which contained the true MVP:

Team

Runs Created

DET

169

TOR

117

LAA

113

BAL

112

SEA

103

NYY

103

OAK

102

CHW

98

KC

95

BOS

93

MIN

88

TEX

87

CLE

85

TB

85

Gone are the days of Juan Gone. The guys that filled this spot were actually only bad compared to other right fielders. Put them in most other positions and we’d have been happy with their performances. Of course, they’re right fielders, so we’re not happy. Much room for improvement here. Maybe the better move would be for the Rangers to put Bradley in right, and let Murphy and Byrd occupy the other two slots in the outfield. That would probably give the best chance for all three spots to improve.

Finally, the DH:

Team

Runs Created

BOS

154

CHW

108

TOR

102

DET

99

CLE

98

OAK

96

TEX

96

SEA

85

NYY

84

MIN

75

BAL

75

KC

73

LAA

72

TB

70

Maybe Sosa was more effective than he appeared to be?  I still believe that a full-time Botts would produce as well or better than Sosa, and should be given a chance.

So, of all positions, first and right were the weakest points.  And right now, those are positions the Rangers haven’t done much with.  Oh, they got Shelton for first, but how much of Teixeira can he replace?  Especially if they are filling in with Catalanotto et al?  In right, nothing has happened yet.  The other positions, they will all shake themselves out in the end.  Some will get better, some will get worse, but they should be okay.  Like I said at the start, it’s not the hitting we have to worry about.  Anyway, there’s two years until it’s time to contend, plenty of time to fill the holes and improve the positions they need to.

Next time, I’ll see what I can do with pitching.  If anything.  The Rangers never have, so why should I be any better at it?

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One Response to “Stacking up the Runs Created”

  1. Has the Rangers outfield improved? « Go Rangers! Says:

    […] may recall I wrote a post about a month ago on Runs Created, comparing each position to the rest of the league to see where the Rangers were good or bad.  In […]

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