While the Rangers were playing the Angels last night, just-called-up Jon Edwards was called in to pitch the top of the 8th inning of a game that, at the time, had the Rangers on the wrong end of a 5-1 score. With his debut, the Rangers came one step closer to a record.
The Rangers have now used 36 different pitchers on the 2014 season, just one shy of the Major League record of 37 set in 2002 by the San Diego Padres. If we assume that, come September, when callups are made, pitchers such as Derek Holland, Luke Jackson, Joseph Ortiz, and Spencer Patton end up pitching for the Rangers this season, then it's reasonable to guess that the Rangers will not only beat, but shatter the record. And we're only halfway through the month of August.
It was around the same time that I had a thought: With the Rangers using so many players this season, what was the combined WAR of the current 25-man roster last season, in 2013?
So I logged onto FanGraphs, perused the records, and added it all up. The result? A 23.3 WAR ball club. If we take the generally accepted 47.7 win replacement-level team, extrapolate the figures over to this season, we come up seeing the 2014 Rangers as a 71-win baseball team.
Now, there are a few other things worth noting. First, and most importantly, Yu Darvish isn't on the current roster because he's on the DL. He's been worth 4.2 WAR this season. Assuming he comes back on August 25 as Ron Washington said today, I think it's safe to say he'll come in right around 5.0 WAR. In 2013, Shin-Soo Choo was worth 5.2 WAR, whereas this season, he's been worth -0.1 WAR. Also, Alex Rios was worth 3.1 WAR, and has been worth 0.1 WAR.
It's interesting that, yes there have been injuries, but two outfielders that were planned to be major parts of the 2014 attack have declined a combined 8.3 WAR, with 40 games still left on the schedule.
In any case, back to the original point, if we add in 5.0 WAR for Yu Darvish and -- whether due to injury or not -- subtract out the 2013 production of both Choo and Rios (5.2 WAR and 3.1 WAR) to reflect replacement-level values in 2014, that actually brings the Rangers down to being a 20 WAR ball club. That figure would put the Rangers at about 68 wins on the season if we round up.
The Rangers, currently sitting at 47-75, hold a winning percentage of .385, which would put the team on pace to win 62 games.
In other words, whether you like WAR-based statistics, they're strikingly accurate, and almost paint the perfect picture of the current roster. Of course, just looking at the 2013 WAR of the current roster has its inherent flaws, but I felt it was interesting to point out nonetheless.
There have been many this season that have called for Jon Daniels to be fired, complained about Nolan Ryan no longer "running things", and I've even seen comments after the news of A.J. Preller's hiring as San Diego's GM that suggested that it was Preller and Ryan that did all the heavy lifting to build a winning organization, and that somehow Daniels was sitting on his hands the entire time. Of course, I disagree whole-heartedly with those assertions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion certainly, but for those that have claimed that the roster was never set up competitively before Spring Training, I think it's only fair to look at the numbers and realize that, yes, injuries have played the most influential part to the Rangers' demise this season.
It's easy to sensationalize and talk about extremes when the team is really good or really, really awful, but the fact remains that, when fully healthy, it's a fair assumption that the Texas Rangers are much more competitive in 2015. Even better? A lot of young players are getting valuable Major League experience, and quite possibly auditions to be considered when Spring Training rolls around next year.
None of this makes the current losing easier to accept -- unless you're one that can get excited about the collectively bargained ramifications that come with being the absolute worst team in baseball -- but it does offer a glimmer of hope for the future other than just saying they'll be better next year just because.
And when the farm system holds the best winning percentage of any of the 30 Major League franchises, there is more than blind optimism lending itself to the cause of watching our favorite baseball team ascend to contention once again.