Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Rangers rely on hit parade without Cruz
By Alvin Anol
ESPN Stats & Info
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezWhen Nelson Cruz was handed a 50-game suspension for being linked to Biogenesis, the Texas Rangers lost one of their top hitters. But the Rangers' offense has been the best in baseball since his suspension.
Since losing Nelson Cruz on Aug. 5, the Rangers have the best offense in baseball.
And they haven't done it with the long ball. On Monday they scored 11 of their 16 runs against the Houston Astros in the third inning without hitting a home run. The Rangers lead the league in runs per game (6.6) since Aug. 5, despite having hit just six home runs in that span, tied for the fewest in the majors.
Instead, the Rangers have reached base at the third-best rate in that timeframe, helped by their ability to draw walks (third-best walk rate since Aug. 5). And they've been aggressive on the basepaths. Since the Biogenesis fallout, Texas' 24 stolen bases lead the league.
Leading the way are Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin. The duo has combined for 15 stolen bases since Aug. 5 (Andrus, 8; Martin, 7), more than 26 other teams in that span (only the Royals, Yankees and Astros have stolen as many bases).
Adrian Beltre has remained the cornerstone of the Rangers' offense, batting .422/.544/.600 since Cruz's suspension. It’s his best hitting month in terms of average despite not having the same power he had the first four months of the season (23 home runs through July; two home runs so far in August).
A.J. Pierzynski has emerged as the team's second-best hitter sans Cruz, feasting on anything inside the strike zone. He's batting a league-best .545 with a 1.500 OPS on at-bats ending with pitches inside the strike zone. He batted .309 on such pitches prior to that, right around league average (.304).