The Texas Rangers will go for the three-game sweep of the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Rangers hitters will try to continue a two-game stretch of pummeling Yankees pitching. Here are some of the topics our broadcast crew will likely discuss tonight.
Adrian Beltre: Hall-of-Fame worthy?
A week and a half ago, Neil Paine and Harry Enten discussed this topic in an article on FiveThirtyEight.com. They cited the combination of his offensive stats and advanced defensive metrics in making the case that he is worthy of enshrinement, but think he might face some challenges in getting elected by those who might not be aware of his value.
In fact, Beltre ranks sixth all-time in wins above replacement among those whose primary position was third base, trailing only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, George Brett and Chipper Jones.
Beltre has four Gold Gloves and four All-Star appearances. He is also the all-time leader in defensive runs saved, a stat tracked since 2003. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that his 2,339 starts at third base rank third-most all-time, trailing only Brooks Robinson’s 2,790.
First baseman Prince Fielder entered the day hitting .351 and as the AL leader with 60 hits in 43 games (23 more than he had in his 42 games played last season).
Fielder is 5-for-9 with three home runs and seven runs scored in the first two games of this series. He has eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 80 career at-bats against the Yankees.
Amazingly, Elias notes that the only other player to have that many home runs and RBIs in his first 80 at-bats against the Yankees was not Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg, David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, but -- amazingly -- none other than Geronimo Berroa (1994-1995).
Fielder has two hits -- both home runs -- in eight at-bats against Yankees starter Chris Capuano in his career.
The pitching matchup
Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo is having a tough time of it in his first season with the Rangers. He has lost five of his last six starts since pitching six scoreless innings against the Mariners on April 17. His ERA in that span is 5.66.
Gallardo’s strikeouts per 9 innings rate has plummeted the last few seasons. He struck out 200 or more hitters at a rate of at least one per inning in each season from 2009 to 2012. This season, he is averaging 6.0 strikeouts per 9.
Capuano allowed four runs in three innings in his first start of the season. Yankees starters have been hit around a bit of late. Starting with Capuano’s last turn, they allowed 25 runs in 22 innings in their last five starts.
Watch how the Yankees shift
The Yankees have gotten positive results from their use of infield shifts this season. They rank sixth in the majors in documented usages of an infield shift on a ball in play this season (trailing the Rays, Astros, Blue Jays, Rockies and Pirates) and are tied for third in defensive runs saved as the result of a shift with six.
Fielder is the most-shifted Rangers player this season. He has thrived with or without the shift on, hitting .326 on grounders/line drives against a documented shift (46 times) and .391 on them when there is no shift against him (23 instances)
Rangers outfield could use a boost
The Rangers plan to recall outfielder Josh Hamilton after this game. He’ll fill a hole in the team’s outfield.
Rangers outfielders have a .228/.315/.376 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage slash line. Each of those ranks in the bottom 10 in the majors.