September 7

You folks know me, by now.  I'm the guy who keeps posting stats and trend lines of stats saying things like Derek Holland isn't actually a very good pitcher anymore, Tony Barnette is, and Delino Deshields, Jr. shouldn't be a starting Outfielder.

I also haven't been shy about saying that I don't think the Rangers are going to do so great this year, although that was mostly before they made some good moves to bolster the pitching staff down the line.  Other moves I wasn't too thrilled with, but most of my analysis was based on the idea that, as far as I can tell, the Rangers have been very lucky the last two years.  And luck isn't quantifiable.

Having said all that...chill out, people.  In the era of Double Wild Card Wildness, which has worked out for MLB beyond their wildest dreams, you can't eliminate any but the worst teams until well after the All Star break.  Hell, trading away some of your best players before the trade deadline hasn't kept teams from contending for another six weeks, at least twice now.

All of us want the Rangers to relive 2011, without the oops.  We want Texas to run away and hide like Lewis Hamilton on pole, making the clear statement that the season is theirs to have; at least until the playoffs.

That's not going to happen.  Even when it *feels* like it happens (the 2012 Rangers were talked about as one of the best teams in baseball history for a while, remember?), it doesn't *actually* happen.  The most wins in MLB history is still 116, and in the modern era that means your team loses 7 times per month.  That's a week.  The Rangers would spend A WHOLE WEEK losing baseball games every month, to be tied with the best in history.

That's a lot of losing.  Or is it?  Perspective is an asshole.

September 7, 2017.  Going into this off day, the Rangers will have played 140 games, if I counted right.  The preceding two weeks of games will have been against the Angels, A's, Houston, and Atlanta.  That should give them a span of games that will either pad their record, cover some deficiencies, or expose the rotten core.  I think we'll know on September 7th what the Rangers' season will look like.

And not a day before.

Simple Trend Analysis Part One: The Offense

Who wants to do some trend line analysis?  Don't lie to me; no one wants to do trend line analysis.  Unfortunately, I've already created the charts, so you get to look at them.

Trend line analysis can be useful for some things, less useful for others.  What we're hoping to see here is evidence for quality play, or maybe justification for the 'eye tests' we make every game.  We also looking at how Small Sample Size can really skew numbers.  Note that the very last number in the chart is the season number.  This will skew the line a bit, but it skews it toward the season-long calculation.  This provides a comparison between the trend line and the overall production.

For lack of a better way to organize, I'll present these in alphabetical order.

After an incredibly hot start, Beltre suffered a slump three weeks in, which dragged him down to "average" status before some recent upticks.  The explosive bat is on display, but he'll have to avoid the slumps or extend the streaks to maintain a wRC+ well above average.  Because it's Beltre, the almost flat trend line isn't as concerning as the line being centered around "100", rather than "115", "125", or "135".

Grand slams can only do so much, and Wilson's trend line is representative of most catchers:  he hits home runs and not much else.  Still, the trend appears to be headed toward stabilizing at "100", which is pretty good for replacement catchers.

Another familiar stable, jagged pattern.  Holaday seems to be more consistent than Wilson with the bat; so if all other metrics are reasonably consistent, we might see Holaday behind the plate a bit more.  I wouldn't put money on it or anything, though.

I included Delino so we could see if he was doing as bad as the eye test said he was.  And the stats, to be fair.  You can see that trend line heading toward zero.  You can see the extended streaks of games at -100 (-100 means "zero", BTW).

How important are walk-off home runs?

This important.  The top chart has "the Home Run".  The bottom chart excludes it.

Elvis.  I think this confirms the eye test.  He's fallen off, but he isn't performing terribly.  I wouldn't be surprised if his production stabilizes just under "100".  That would probably be "good Elvis".

Wow.  Ian Desmond is for real.  He is performing consistently, at a high level, and over an extended period of time.

Mitch is producing around league average right now.  And unfortunately, there isn't a lot of boom in his bat.

Yes, Nomar is trending down to league average.  That's mostly because of the hot start, but he's had more games recently where he isn't being productive with the bat.  Fairly consistent with the arrival of a new hitter; there is, as they say, "a book" on  him now.

I hate to say it, but for all of the people talking about Fielder showing signs of life with the he's not.

Despite the recent slump, Rougie is still trending up.

Rua needs to do more than he has.  I'm worried that his production since he became the full-time left fielder has actually dropped, but that's only a few games worth of data.  He was far more valuable off the bench than Hanser, who's value as a bench bat has been very negative.

Texas lost one of it's two biggest producers with Rougie's suspension, and Adrian and Elvis are slumping.  This is putting the weight of the offense on the rest of the team, which is for the most part producing right around league average.  Other than Fielder, the Rangers don't have a lot of "ouch" in the lineup, but they have way to much "meh".  Thankfully, the trends behind Rua, Wilson and Holaday are indicating at least the possibility of greater production at the bottom of the order.  Mazara stabilizing his minor slide would help a lot, too; he provides the most stable presence at the top of the order while Choo is gone.

Coming soon:  we'll look at the rotation and the bullpen.

Defeating the Odds

Baseball is a game of odds.

Each situation, each at bat, each pitch is a chess match based on statistics and probabilities, carefully calculated by both players and managers.

What pitch is thrown in what count? Should I be sitting fastball in this count from this pitcher? Should the runner attempt to steal? Should I go with a lefty or righty out of the bullpen?  Should I lay down this bunt to move the runners over (no)?

The answer to each one of these questions comes as a result of the history of the game; with a massive sample size providing direct and accurate answers to the probability of success of any given baseball action.  In recent years, the math has gotten more advanced with the creation of sabermetrics and a devout following of newly developed statistics. 

FanGraphs has become the go to source for modern baseball statistics and projections, using Dan Symborski’s ZiPS to provide projections for both teams and individual players.

Before the 2015 season, FanGraphs had the Texas Rangers listed as having a 3.1% chance of making the playoffs.

3.1 %.

That’s a lower number than the Rangers’ current 3.5 game lead in the AL West with ten games remaining.

As of June 2, that percentage changed to 8.8 percent.

The statistics said that the Rangers had virtually no chance of making the postseason.  The numbers let us know that we should start thinking about the return of Yu Darvish and the 2016 Texas Rangers.

Jeff Banister had other plans.

The beautiful thing about baseball is that regardless of probabilities; the game must be played.  Whether it’s swinging at a 3-1 curve, trying to take 3rd with no outs, or having your 2-hole hitter lay down a bunt, sometimes things don’t happen the way that everyone expects.

The game, much like life, often proves to be far more than numbers.

Going into the final ten games of the 2015 season, the Texas Rangers now sport a 97.6% chance of making the playoffs, with an 86.9% chance of winning the AL West.

The Texas Rangers are winning Against All Odds.

As the Rangers go into Houston for a three game series, they are presented with a chance to make their division lead basically insurmountable, even having an opportunity to clinch as early as Monday. However, although the math is now in the Rangers favor, don’t believe that the Astros cannot beat the odds themselves (for those of you who don’t believe me, think back to the 2012 Rangers collapse, where they lost a 4 game lead with 6 games left.  Now go vomit and promise to never speak of that ever again).

Beating the odds is not something that is limited to baseball teams or even to the baseball field, but is something that individual players often do within their lives, and far too frequently, their stories are lost in the drama of the game.   As fans, we often forget the work, desire, and struggles that players go through to reach the point of playing in the big leagues.

We forget that they had lives before baseball.  We forget that their roots are often far from the cities in which we play.  We forget that they have off field lives and that they deal with the basic challenges that face humanity.

As the Rangers head into Houston, I was reminded of a book by former Astros centerfielder, Charlton Maxwell Jimerson, Against All Odds: A Success Story, which gives the most honest and thorough explanation of those very things which we often forget. 

The Texas Rangers are beating the odds.  CJ did too.

To the casual baseball fan, Charlton Jimerson is most likely someone that you have never heard of, a September call up who was around long enough to have a cup of coffee and head back out.  However, CJ’s story of how he reached that point is remarkable, and once he made it to the Bigs, he made the most of his limited time there.

Jimerson, and African-American athlete from Hayward, CA, overcame odds in every step of his baseball journey, as well as his life.   The challenges faced by the 2015 Rangers are nothing compared to those of Jimerson.

Born in northern California, Jimerson could have easily fallen into a life of temptation, falling victim to the predicaments provided to his life by the unhealthy, and often violent, relationship of his parents, being surrounded by a culture of drug addiction, or the constant recruitment from the various gangs in the area. 

But CJ was not just a statistic.  CJ had talent, he had promise, and he saw a way out. 

During his teenage years, Jimerson moved in to his sister Lanette’s two bedroom apartment and began attending Hayward High School, where he would excel on the basketball court.  After some time away from the game, Jimerson returned to the baseball field as well, where he dominated during his SR year, hitting .424 and catching the attention of Houston Astros scout Gene Wellman, who decided to draft him in the 1997 MLB draft, going in the 24th round. 

But Jimerson was not just a statistic.  He wanted more.

Jimerson decided that there may be more to life than just baseball and wisely chose to walk on to the University of Miami baseball team, receiving an education while pursuing his baseball dreams.  

Even as a walk on at Miami, Jimerson was not just a statistic. He finished his career with two college World Series rings and was the 2001 CWS Most Outstanding Player (and made one of the best homerun robbing catches in CWS history).

Jimerson went on to be drafted again by the Houston Astros, but this time in the 5th round.  He then struggled with the life of a minor league ball player, trying to find his role within the Astros organization and dealing with a number of race issues that were part of what resulted in the declining percentage of African-American baseball players.   

But Jimerson was not a statistic.  He did not give up on his dream to play in the majors.

On September 4, 2006, Jimerson was finally given the opportunity to have an at bat in the Major Leagues.  Called up to an Astros team that featured a rotation including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and Roy Oswalt; Jimerson was looked to as a potential offensive spark and pinch runner on a team that was basically relying on Lance Berkman for their offensive production.

During the sixth inning, Jimerson was called on to pinch hit in the pitchers spot for Roger Clemens.  This was no normal first plate appearance though, this was a plate appearance against emerging Phillies ace Cole Hamels, who had a perfect game through 5 2/3.

The odds were against CJ, but he was not just a statistic. 

As he had his entire life, Charlton Jimerson defeated the odds, crushing a 2-0 Cole Hamels changeup 434 feet over the centerfield wall.  Perfect game, shutout, lead; all gone.  Dreams of achieving a Major League at bat; achieved.

Against All Odds, Charlton Jimerson achieved his dream.

Against All Odds, the Texas Rangers are 10 games away from making the 2015 playoffs.

As I look and see that, as of today, the Texas Rangers are given an 8% chance of winning the World Series, I remember that 8% is just a number, and the 2015 Texas Rangers, as well as Charlton Jimerson, have taught me that being just a number can be easily overcome. 


For more information about Jimerson's book, Against All Odds, visit

Buy the book, you won't be disappointed.  

Follow CJ on twitter, @TruthAboutMLB

While I was away.....

It's nice to be back, I've missed you guys (well, most of you).  In lieu of writing any meaningful piece on baseball, I present to you a random collection of (mostly) Rangers observations I made while on the road with my four year old son for the last nine days. 

The Week:  Although the White Sox are struggling this season, this was an incredibly tough matchup week for the Rangers due not only to the quality of starting pitching they faced, but also by the quantity of lefties.  Yes, I completely understand that the Rangers offense performed poorly over the last seven days, but if you asked me last Sunday if I would take a 4-3 week against that list of pitchers, I would have signed that contract in a heartbeat. 

Centerfield:   Leonys Martin is struggling, going 0-21 before today's game tying homerun, which speaks more about his poor splits toward lefties than anything else, but also lets us know how much we miss Delino DeShields, which is still very strange to say.

Moreland: Mitch is silently having a fantastic season. He is hitting .294 with 8 bombs and an .848 OPS, but his pinch hit on Saturday spoke volumes about the player he has become. Moreland will never be an All Star, but he is showing his worth and proving a great number of doubters (including myself) wrong. 

Close games: All of the Rangers' losses this week have been heart breakers, starting with the Balk Game.  This was the only game I was able to watch in its entirety this week (Hard to find Rangers games on TV in Florida) and when I first saw it, I did not think Kela balked.  I am not sure if it was because of the low quality TV where I was watching or because of the high quality beverages the place offered, but I was convinced Kela did nothing wrong.  Then, I watched it again today.  Crap.  That was a balk.  

The Roster Issues:  I am not stunned by the Smolinski DFA.  Yes, I understand that he had options, but the Rangers suddenly have this beautiful issue of an overcrowded 40 man that most franchises would dream of having. There are so many moves that need to be made in the coming weeks; with the return of Beltre, Hamilton, DeShields, Harrison, Perez, and Holland all looming.  Who goes?  Who stays?  Honestly, I am in over my head on this one.  Normally there are obvious roster cuts to be made, but at the moment, I don't see much other than Detwiler. 

Beltre: Speaking of moves, Adrian Beltre, he still cannot grip a bat following his thumb laceration.  He is attempting different grips and taking ground balls in hopes of returning, but things are not looking good.  However, with such a young roster, how much do you think his presence on the bench is meaning to the rest of the team?  I cannot imagine the wisdom he is imparting on the Rangers youth.  

Chi Chi: I love it when prospects live up to the hype (I'm still holding out to secret hope that Profar comes through.....wait, it's not secret anymore).  Gallo is also exactly what we thought he was; huge power, low BA, high enough OPS to make him stick in the bigs, low enough splits against lefties that I wouldn't mind seeing him see some more time in the minors. 

Mets Fans: Completely unrelated to all things Rangers, I attended the Mets vs Braves game in Atlanta on Saturday and was thoroughly impressed by the Mets fans in attendance.  Honestly, as a Virginia native, the idea of Mets fans in general is foreign to me, but this group, @The7Line, showed up in full force, with more than 750 fans from 17 states., and dominated the stadium with organized chants throughout the entire game.  I was impressed, they were able to drown out the home crowd until the tomahawk chop took over in the 9th inning. (Related- only doing the tomahawk chop and the wave for 8 innings is REALLY annoying.  Why do people still do the wave?  More importantly, why are Rangers fans doing this God awful rally light thing? Stop it.)

And with that thought, I am done.  Vacation was nice, put there were too many days without Rangers baseball (and far too much windshield time with a four year old).  The Rangers have a recovery day on Monday and so do I, so let's get this thing rolling again.  

See you Tuesday. 

The Fantasy Value of Rangers Players (Movie Quotes Edition)

Baseball season is upon us.  Fantasy baseball season is also upon us.  Some of you love the fantasy, some of you think it is for nerds, some of you think I might as well be writing this in German.  

However, what do we all love?  Movies.  Everyone loves a good movie.  So how do I sucker you into reading my pre-draft fantasy analysis?  By doing it using movie quotes.  Boom.  

“Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!”

“Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.”  - Gladiator (2000)

Adrian Beltre

It is clear who the General is for the Texas Rangers. 

To make this plain and simple: Adrian Beltre is Adrian Beltre.  ESPN has Beltre ranked as the #17 fantasy player overall and the #1 third baseman with a $28 value in auction leagues, which seems about right.  He will be who he always has been, he will be the general on the field, he will show his unparalleled glove, and he will put up glorious fantasy numbers from a weak position.  Will the other Rangers stay with him?

Relevant Stat: Beltre hit only .262 with RISP away from Globe Life Park.  Expect a big increase in this number this year, and with that, and increase in BA and RBI.


“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”- Airplane! (1980)

Prince Fielder

Surely you aren’t giving up on him after one bad season, are you?  Fielder is ranked as the 11th best fantasy first baseman and a sixth round draft pick ($15).  Don’t be scared to reach for Fielder a little earlier and throw down a few extra bucks for him.  He had no previous injury history before 2014.  He looks healthy.  All systems go.  I am serious. 

Relevant Stat: Further proof that Prince’s neck injury was the cause of his early season struggles: Fielder hit only .208 on pitches on the outside half of the plate, the area that he said caused him the most pain to reach.


“Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?"

"These go to eleven." - This is Spinal Tap (1984)

 Rougned Odor

This kid is full-blast at all times.  Not only does he go to 11, but he is stuck there.  ESPN has Odor ranked 199th overall with an auction value of $4.  Honestly though, are there 198 players you would rather have than Rougie?  I didn’t think so.  What we saw last year was the rookie season of a 20 year old.  I repeat: The kid is still just twenty-one years old.  If you are in a keeper league, grab him earlier, he is here to stay. 

Relevant stat: Rougie hit an astonishing .282 on ground balls.  The kid is pure hustle.  Once he gains some experience and lowers his K rate, expect his numbers to rise rapidly. 


“But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe -- hear it? -- Carpe, Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."- Dead Poets Society (1989)

Elvis Andrus

He may have a living legacy working immediately to his right, but as Elvis goes, the Rangers go.  Let’s hope the same is not true for your fantasy team.  Andrus does so much for the Rangers, and his down year in 2014 had a huge effect on the team.  However, most of what he does really well does not translate to fantasy value.  If you can figure out a way to get fantasy points out of defensive range and baserunning instincts, then Elvis is your guy, seize the day.  However, in the meantime, ESPN’s ranking of Andrus as the 7th best fantasy shortstop is a reach.

Relevant Stat: Elvis hit more homeruns (2) than triples (1) for the first time in his career during the 2014 season.  Avoid him if you play in an OPS league.


“Lieutenant Dan!  You’ve got new legs!  New Legs!”-  Forrest Gump (1994)

Shin-Soo Choo

Choo’s first season in a Rangers’ uniform was disappointing, there is no other way to describe it.  However, I can honestly say that I felt relieved to find out that he needed surgery on both his ankle and his elbow in the off season.  I mean, hurt is way better than horrible, right?  He is back, healthy, and started training hard early.  I expect a rebound season for him, but would not consider drafting him anywhere near where he went last season.  Consider Choo and his new legs as a value pick somewhere around the 15th round.

Relevant Stat: Choo was caught stealing 4 times in 2014 while swiping only 3 bases.  Expect 15-20 SBs from this year’s version.


“I feel the need, the need for speed”Top Gun (1986)

Leonys Martin

I hate the bunt.  I hate sacrifices and playing for one run.  I hate donating free outs to the other team and killing a potential big inning. 

Ron Washington loved the bunt. 

With that said, Leonys is one of the few players that makes the bunt a legit weapon at all times.  Will Bannister allow Leonys to freely bunt and freely steal?  How aggressive will Bannister be?  If Leonys has a green light, watch out, his speed makes him a steal around the 11th round.

Relevant Stat: Leonys hit .586 when he was bunting for a hit in 2014, reaching base safely 17 out of 29 attempts.


"I love waking up in the morning not knowing where I'm gonna go or who I'm gonna meet. Just the other night, I was sleeping under a bridge, and now here I am, on the grandest ship in the world, having champagne with you fine people."- Titanic (1997)

Robinson Chirinos

Don’t get cute.  I know you love your Rangers, but Chirinos is not a homer pick worth making.  Allow him to continue to develop his relationship with Yu while avoiding having him destroy your relationship with your fantasy squad.  He is just happy to be in the grandest league in the world, leave it at that.

Relevant Stat: Chirinos hits .221 at Globe Life Park, which is considered by most to be one of the better hitters’ parks in the league.


“We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.”- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, (2002)

Joey Gallo

Do you draft Gallo with plans to have him help your league this season?  Nope.  Should you grab him late and stash him if you are in a keeper league?  Yep.  The future is near.

Relevant Stat: Bombs. Lots and lots of bombs.


"You're hit. You're bleedin', man!"

"I ain't got time to bleed."- Predator (1987)

Yu Darvish

The Rangers camps are split here.  The old Nolan camp thinks Darvish is a quitter and that he bailed on his team last year.  The JD camp thinks it was a wise move to save your investment and shut down Darvish in a lost year.  Either which way, Darvish heard the complaints, and he is motivated for this year.  Expect the man with the second highest K/9 rate in the league to put up big numbers and don’t worry about a little spring training tenderness.  ESPN has Darvish ranked as the 14th best fantasy pitcher, but he will finish the season well within the top ten.

Relevant Stat: Darvish struck out 30% of opposing hitters while limiting them to a .241 batting average.  If he can keep his pitch count low, expect big things.


“We got no food, we got no jobs... our PETS' HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!”Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Derek Holland

We all know that Dutch Holland is about the biggest Dumb and Dumber fan on the planet, so this quote was just about the best way to sum up last season’s horrific string of injuries.  Nothing went right.  Everyone was broken. 

However, as much as those injuries drove us crazy as fans, our emotions were nothing compared to those of Holland.  Expect Derek to show the brilliance that he brought to the mound at the end of 2014 for the most of the season.  He is a motivated man, with the departure of Ron Washington, the frustration from last season, and his emotional connection to the loss of Briggs Berry fueling him along the way.  Holland will be a difference maker for your fantasy team if you pick him up in the late rounds.

Relevant Stat: Holland made hitters swing and miss 21% of the time and forced them to chase 34% of pitches he threw out of the strike zone.  The stuff is there, it’s just a matter of staying healthy and remaining focused.


“Oh, I can barely lift my right arm ’cause I did so many. I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.”Anchorman (2004)

Yovani Gallardo

Every MLB team needs an inning eating workhorse.  Gallardo was brought to Texas to be just that guy.  He is another player who can contribute to your fantasy squad, but don’t expect him to be a stud.  He will add to your strikeout total and provide innings while doing minimal damage to your WHIP and ERA.

Relevant Stat:  Gallardo threw 3,216 pitches last season, 62% of which were strikes. Work. Horse. 


"I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it."-  Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Neftali Feliz

Feliz has entered spring training by taking a stand.  “It’s my job” Neftali told Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News.  I don’t doubt him.  The thing about closers is that you want them to be confident, you want them to be a little bit nuts.  This season is the right time frame for Neftali to be properly healed from Tommy John, so I expect him to grab the job and hold on, becoming a contributor in saves and K’s in the realm of fantasy baseball.  Feliz is no Kembral, but I expect him to provide much more value than the 32nd best reliever, which is where ESPN currently has him ranked. 

Relevant Stat: Neftali limited batters to an incredible .183 batting average after he regained the role of closer.  He’s back.