MLB: Texas hitters have Rangers up against Bad System

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MLB: Texas hitters have Rangers up against Bad System

Over the years, the best baseball played in the state of Texas has in been in Austin at the University of Texas, who plays in tonight’s College World Series championship game. The Texas Rangers have long been known for something also, hitting the ball and

2009-06-25

Over the years, the best baseball played in the state of Texas has in been in Austin at the University of Texas, who plays in tonight’s College World Series championship game. The Texas Rangers have long been known for something also, hitting the ball and not winning many games. The Rangers organization has never been able to develop pitchers, thus having everyday hitters has been their best road to what success they have enjoyed. After a fast start, Texas is now tied atop the A.L. West Division, and on Wednesday, the Rangers will be up against Arizona AND a tough betting system.

This season, with a better bullpen and change in pitching philosophy, Texas has spent the vast majority of the time in first place in the American League West by themselves, until know. Having lost five in a row and nine of last 14, the Rangers have been caught by favored Los Angeles. To the casual baseball observer, one would expect another collapse of Texas pitching to be the culprit; however this is not the case at the present time, as the Rangers bats have gone uncommonly quiet.
In their current batting slump, Texas is hitting below .250 as a team, scoring as many as six runs only twice and averaging 2.64 runs per game. Though management is saying they are not concerned per se, there are troubling signs.

“Obviously we’ve hit a speed bump and the players know that,” general manager Jon Daniels told the Rangers’ official Web site. “But I’d much rather talk about an offensive slump than the pitching issues we’ve had to deal with in the past.”

In looking at Lone Star Ball blog, we find a series of Rangers woes when it comes to hitting.

In the American League, Texas has the highest percentage of swings and misses at 20 percent. The Rangers are last in pitches taken for strikes at 24 percent. Texas batters swing at 48 percent of the pitches they see, which is the highest in the AL, with first place Boston taking hacks the fewest amount of times at 41 percent. The Rangers only make contact 74 percent of the time, which is again dead last.

The pitching axiom of throwing first pitch strike is much easier against Texas, since they swing at one-third of these pitches. Consider Tampa Bay is the second most impatient team to swing the bat on the first pitch at 28 percent and doing the math you have a difference of almost 18 percent between first and second positions, which is an enormous gap.

Last night pitcher Max Scherzer of Arizona was able to strikeout seven Texas hitters in six innings, by pitching up the ladder to Rangers hitters. (With each strike pitching higher in the zone) With how undisciplined Texas hitters are right now, six of the seven pitches that resulted in K’s would have been balls with more patience.
There task becomes a lot whole more difficult this evening facing Dan Haren (6-4, 2.23 ERA, 0.822 WHIP). Haren would have much better record be it for more run support and is 11-2 with a 2.90 ERA in his career in interleague play, including 8-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last nine outings. Haren has been close to un-hittable in last five starts, with a 3-0 record and silly 1.66 ERA.

This places Texas in a conundrum, going up against a system that reads this way:

Play Against road underdogs with a money line of +150 or more, who are batting .250 or worse over their last 20 games, against opponent with a hot starting pitcher, with WHIP or 1.000 or less over his last five starts.

With Haren posting 96 strikeouts in 101 innings, the free-swinging Rangers might cool off the surroundings of the 100+ degrees heat in downtown Phoenix, providing natural wind flow. This system is 76-13, 85.4 percent since 2004. Haren is 22-7 in June starts (Teams Record) in his career and is 22-8 UNDER in home games vs teams who strand 6.9 or less runners on base per game.

Sportsbook.com has Arizona as -175 money line favorites with the total Ov8. Sure the Rangers miss Josh Hamilton’s bat in the lineup, but what they miss more is plate discipline, after leading the AL in contact on percentage of swings in 2008.


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