Stats & Info: Elvis Andrus

Fielder trade: Follow the money

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
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USA TODAY SportsThe Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade should open up playing time for young players Jurickson Profar and Nick Castellanos.
The Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers agreed to a blockbuster trade Tuesday that might be as much about future salary as it is about current talent.

The Tigers will send Prince Fielder, who is due to make $168 million over the next seven seasons, to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. The second baseman is due to make another $62 million through 2018, a year in which he has a $10 million club option or $5 million buyout.

Fielder is the fourth player in MLB history to be dealt with more than $100 million remaining on his contract. He joins Alex Rodriguez, who was dealt from the Rangers to the Yankees, as well as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, who were part of the same deal between the Red Sox and the Dodgers.

Big-time production
Fielder has had one of the best starts to his career by a left-handed power hitter. His 285 career home runs are the fifth-most in MLB history before the age of 30 by a lefty, behind just Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott and Adam Dunn.

During his two years in Detroit, Fielder was one of four players to hit 50 home runs, drive in 200 runs and hit .290 along with now former teammate Miguel Cabrera, free agent Robinson Cano and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

Kinsler, who entered the league in 2006, has been one of the best second baseman in the game. His 34.9 WAR is the fourth-best among second basemen in that span behind just Chase Utley, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia.

One thing to watch for this upcoming season is how Kinsler adapts to playing in Detroit, as he was much more productive at the Ballpark in Arlington in his career than on the road, hitting 62 points higher.

Postseason pasts
One area where the two players have had different degrees of success is in the postseason.

Since joining the Tigers, Prince Fielder hit .196 in 92 postseason at-bats with just one home run. And in his past 18 postseason games, Fielder hasn’t driven in a single run.

Kinsler, meanwhile, has hit .311 in his postseason career.

Roster impact
For the Rangers, the roster change is fairly apparent, as they had three quality middle infielders for two spots last season, including Elvis Andrus whose eight-year, $120 million extension starts in 2015. Moving Kinsler allows Jurickson Profar to man second base, while Fielder provides a big upgrade over Mitch Moreland at first base. Profar was Keith Law’s No. 1 prospect heading into last season.

For Detroit, moving Fielder allows Miguel Cabrera to take over at first base -- where he won’t be as big of a liability on defense. It also opens the door at third for the Tigers’ top prospect, Nick Castellanos, who started his career as a third baseman but was moved to the outfield in 2012. Castellanos was a first-round pick in 2010 and was the 2012 Futures Game MVP.

Rangers rely on hit parade without Cruz

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
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AP Photo/Tony GutierrezSince losing Nelson Cruz on Aug. 5, the Rangers have the best offense in baseball.
When 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.

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).

Kernels: A week of perfect fives

May, 19, 2013
5/19/13
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Our weekly review of interesting and notable stats you might have missed.

Give Me Five
Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals went 5-for-5, with 5 RBI, in Monday's 11-4 victory against the Los Angeles Angels. And he had that big game without going deep. Butler's RBI came on two doubles and a single.

Butler was the first player to have five hits and five driven in since Josh Hamilton's four-homer game last season. And in franchise history, only one other Royal had reached five-and-five in the same game: Kevin Seitzer (6-for-6, 2 HR, 7 RBI) against the Red Sox on August 2, 1987.

On Tuesday, Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies also went 5-for-5 in a 9-4 win against the Chicago Cubs.

That was the first five-hit game by a Colorado batter in three years, and two of those hits left the yard. That made CarGo just the third player in franchise history to have five hits, including two homers, in a single game. Andres Galarraga had a six-hit, two-homer game in 1995, and Vinny Castilla did it in a 12-inning contest in July 1997.

And the week wasn't over. Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers went 5-for-5 in Saturday's 7-2 victory against the Tigers. He's the first leadoff hitter to go a perfect 5-for-5 (or better) since Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011. That's the game where Jeter homered for his 3,000th hit.

Prior to this week there had been just one other five-hit game this season, by Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians on April 7.

Slugfest of the Week: Rays 12, Orioles 10
The Rays scored seven runs off starter Jason Hammel, added three more off Sean Burnett (who needed 28 pitches to get one out), and were up 12-4 before Jeremy Hellickson got in trouble in the 8th. A Nate McLouth triple started the inning, and the Orioles strung together five straight two-out hits en route to a six-run frame.

The teams combined for 30 hits (only nine games this season have gotten there; the high is 33 by the Diamondbacks and Cardinals on April 3), and each team had six extra-base hits.

Both starters gave up 10 hits and at least seven runs. That hadn't happened in any game since July 20, 2009, when the Minnesota Twins' Nick Blackburn and Gio Gonzalez "dueled" in a 14-13 Oakland Athletics win.

On the other hand, Hellickson walked just one hitter and Hammel two, and that combination (10-plus hits, seven-plus runs, max of two walks) hadn't been achieved by a pair of starters in more than a decade. John Patterson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets' Al Leiter each posted that line on August 4, 2002.

The Orioles also had two triples (Yamaico Navarro had the other), the first time they've done that in almost three years (July 7, 2010, at Detroit). That had been the longest drought without a multi-triple game by any team.

Winning Ugly
Hellickson got the win in that game on Friday despite being charged with eight runs. But he wasn't the only one this week.

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants worked into the seventh inning against the Rockies on Thursday, allowing six runs and three homers. He got the win only because Jhoulys Chacin gave up eight runs.
Hellickson
Hellickson
Cain
Cain
Garcia
Garcia

On Friday, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals pitched 5 1/3 innings with six runs allowed, but won because Wily Peralta of the Brewers allowed seven.

There have been five instances this season of a pitcher allowing six or more runs and getting a win, all in the last 10 days. And the last time three pitchers did it in two days was on April 13, 2009, when Edinson Volquez, Gavin Floyd, and Koji Uehara all barely made it through the required five innings.

The last two-day span where all three pitchers went beyond the five-inning minimum was May 25-26, 1992. Those lucky winners were Butch Henry of the Astros, Charles Nagy of the Indians, and the Orioles' (and ESPN's) Rick Sutcliffe.

Dempster hopes control ends Bronx blues

August, 13, 2012
8/13/12
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John E. Sokolowski/US PresswireThe Yankees have won five straight games against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium.

The Texas Rangers head to the Bronx on Monday to take on fellow World Series hopefuls, the New York Yankees (ESPN 2, 7 ET). This will mark the Rangers’ first trip to Yankee Stadium in 2012 and the Yankees hope to continue their recent run of home success against the two-time defending American League champions.

The Yankees have gone 8-1 against the Rangers at home over the last three seasons including wins in each of their last five meetings. Their .889 home win percentage against Texas since 2010 is the Yankees’ highest against any opponent they have faced at least four times over that span.

A win Monday would give the Yankees just their second home win streak of at least six games against the Rangers over the last 25 seasons and first since they won eight straight from 1994-96.
Ryan Dempster
Dempster

Ryan Dempster
hopes to turn the tide for Texas in his third start with the Rangers since being acquired July 31. Dempster allowed no earned runs over 6.2 innings against the Red Sox in his most recent start after allowing a season-high eight earned runs against the Angels in his Rangers debut.

One big difference between the outings for Dempster was his control. Against the Red Sox on Aug. 7, Dempster threw first-pitch strikes to 63 percent of the batters he faced and 51 percent of his pitches were in the strike zone overall. He threw first-pitch strikes to 48 percent of Angels hitters Aug. 2 with only 36 percent of his total pitches in the zone.

In the other dugout, Robinson Cano hit his 25th home run of the season on Sunday against the Blue Jays. It marked the fourth consecutive season that he has hit at least 25 homers, tied for the second-longest streak among second basemen in MLB history. Only Dan Uggla has a longer such streak all-time (6, 2006-11). The homer also gave Cano his fourth-career season with at least 25 homers and 30 doubles, tied for third all-time among second basemen.

Another middle infielder posting impressive numbers at the plate is Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. Andrus is leading the American league with a .331 batting average in the seventh inning or later this season including a .394 average in those situations with runners in scoring position (4th in AL).

Overall, he’s batting .345 with runners on base at any point in the game, third in the league, and more success may be expected on Monday night. Andrus has hit safely in seven of his last eight games against the Yankees and is batting a team-best .344 over that span.

Rangers rally trumps Pujols power

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
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AP Photo/John F. RhodesThe Rangers celebrated a come-from-behind victory after Elvin Adrus’ third career walk-off it.
The Los Angeles Angels missed a huge opportunity to pull within two games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

Leading 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth, the game seemed in the bag with Ernesto Frieri on the mound. He hadn’t blown a save all season with the Angels (or in his career for that matter).

But there’s a first for everything.

Frieri allowed Ian Kinsler’s third career game-tying home run in the 9th inning or later and the game went to extras.

Then came the continued resurgence of Albert Pujols, whose second homer of the game gave the Angels a three-run lead.

It may be surprising for a power hitter of his caliber, but it’s the first time in Pujols' career that he's hit multiple home runs in consecutive games.

Finally, there was the dagger. The Rangers battled back once again with an Elvis Andrus walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th, the third walk-off hit of his career.

It’s the first time the Rangers had a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and then a walk-off hit in the 10th since September 14, 2005 against the Orioles, when David Dellucci hit a game-tying homer in the 9th and Kevin Mench hit a walk-off single in the 10th.

It's the second time in franchise history that the Rangers came back from a three-run deficit in extra innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other time was May 18, 1975 against the Detroit Tigers.

PUJOLS vs FASTBALLS

Pujols has been crushing fastballs lately, as he hit a pair of homers against heaters on Wednesday.

His slugging percentage against fastballs since the All-Star break has more than doubled what it was before the break. And he has as many homers off fastballs in the last three weeks as he had in the entire first half of the season. Pujols leads the Majors in homers, slugging percentage and OPS against fastballs since the All-Star break.

WHAT HAPPENED TO FRIERI?

Since being acquired by the Angels, Frieri had a flawless 0.00 ERA before the All-Star break and converted all 11 save opportunities. He hadn't allowed a single run in 26 ⅓ innings. But since the break, he's allowed seven earned runs in six innings.

OPPONENTS CATCHING ON TO DARVISH?

The Rangers won despite a poor outing from Yu Darvish, who matched career highs with seven earned runs and six walks allowed.

Darvish is very effective the first time around but not so great the next time opponents face him.

In starts against teams he had already faced at least once, Darvish is 3-5 with a 6.45 ERA. In his first start against teams, he’s 8-2 with a 2.91 ERA.

How Trout is surging, Hamilton is slumping

July, 30, 2012
7/30/12
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Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Mike Trout could join the small group of players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season: Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

Since Mike Trout made his debut on April 28th, the Angels are 49-33 – tied with the Yankees for the best record in the AL - and lead the league with a .274 batting average.

Trout is on pace for a historic season, regardless of age:
• If he plays in every game the rest of the season, he’ll play in 139 games. If you project his current totals to 139 games, he would have 54 stolen bases, 28 HR and a .350 BA
• No player in MLB history has finished a season with those numbers
• Even if he regresses slightly or misses some time, no player in MLB history has hit .340 with 20 HR and 40 SB in a single season

Trout has 31 stolen bases, 49 RBI and 112 hits in his first 79 games of the season. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since RBI became an official stat in 1920, only one other player has reached those numbers in his first 79 games of a season - George Sisler in 1922.

A next-level look at his strengths
What makes Trout stand out as a rookie is his ability to get on base in two-strike counts. His on-base percentage of .346 with two strikes ranks second in the AL behind Elvis Andrus (.361).

Trout’s power comes mostly from his ability to mash off-speed pitches: his .752 slugging percentage against off-speed pitches leads MLB.

Another unique aspect of Trout’s hitting is his ability to hit pitches at his knees or lower. Trout is hitting .407 on pitches located in the bottom third of the zone or lower, which ranks first in the majors. The MLB average is .241 this season.

JOSH HAMILTON'S STRUGGLES
Josh Hamilton is batting just .141 with three HR in July after entering the month batting .319 with 25 HR. His four straight games played without a hit matches the second-longest such streak of his career.
Josh Hamilton
Hamilton

What has changed for Hamilton?

Struggles with pitches away
Hamilton's average and slugging percentage on pitches on the outer third of the plate have seen steep drops since the first two months of the season. He's also missing more of those pitches and striking out more often on them.

Pitchers have noticed, too, based on where they're pitching him.

In April and May, 23 percent of his pitches seen were on the inner third of the zone or further inside, but that has dropped to 17 percent since. 62 percent of his pitches seen in the first two months were on outer third, but that has increased to 66 percent since.

Falling behind in count
Rangers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an article from June 23, "To me, it's what he does after the first strike. His at-bats have not been efficient after one strike in the last couple of weeks. They're quick outs, and consequently you're seeing the strikeouts."

The numbers back up Coolbaugh's observations. After an 0-1 count the last two months, Hamilton is batting .134 and slugging .256. Compare those to his rates in the same situation in the season's first two months: a .272 average and .679 slugging percentage.

Less aggressive early in count
Hamilton’s overall swing rate hasn’t changed, but he is swinging at the first pitch less often. In April and May, he swung at the first pitch 52.7 percent of the time. That number is down to 44.2 in June and July.

US Presswire/Jeff Curry
Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler teamed up in a nifty fashion on multiple occasions in a Game 2 win.

The Texas Rangers sacrificed, in a manner of speaking, both offensively and defensively to steal Game 2 of the World Series from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Via the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers became the third team in World Series history to come back from a 1-0 deficit in the ninth inning or later to win, joining the 1911 Athletics and the 1985 Royals.

The Rangers were just 8-20 in one-run games on the road during the regular season (the second-worst record in the majors), but found a way to win this game, scoring their runs on back-to-back-sacrifice flies by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.

Hamilton became the fourth player in World Series history to have the game-tying or go-ahead RBI in the ninth inning or later of a game in which his team trailed 1-0 at the time, joining Hall of Famers Home Run Baker (1911 Athletics) and Brooks Robinson (1969 Orioles), and Dane Iorg (1985 Royals).

Iorg is the one most familiar to Cardinals fans. His two-run walk-off single in the ninth inning gave the Royals a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the World Series, sending the series to a Game 7, which the Royals won 11-0.

That Game 6 loss is best remembered for the missed call by first-base umpire Don Denkinger, on the play that started the Royals' rally.

The other keys for the Rangers were stars with their gloves in the early innings and stars with their bats in the ninth inning -- Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.

Kinsler made a bare-handed play to catch a throw from shortstop Andrus as part of a fourth-inning double play.
According to the metrics provided by Baseball Info Solutions, Kinsler turned 68 percent of double-play opportunities in which he was either the pivot man or fielder. His six double play runs saved (a component of defensive runs saved) were the most in the majors.

Baseball Info Solutions also charts every play of every game. Entering Game 2, Kinsler led all postseason players with 12 “good fielding plays” (think plays that would be Web Gem nominees).

Andrus made a Web Gem to get an out in the fifth inning. He rated third among shortstops in the majors with 13 defensive runs saved.

In the ninth inning, each had hits, with Andrus going to second base after his single on a failed cutoff attempt by Albert Pujols (who entered the day ranked second to Kinsler in good fielding plays). Based on win probability data from the Elias Sports Bureau, that hit lowered the Cardinals' chances of winning from 67.6 percent to 44.5 percent.

Prior to the ninth-inning comeback, it looked like the story of the night would again be Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig.

Craig became the first player in World Series history with two go-ahead pinch-hit RBIs. He was the third player with a go-ahead RBI in the sixth inning or later of consecutive World Series games, joining Duke Snider (1952 Dodgers) and Amos Otis (1980 Royals).

The Cardinals had a chance for a rally of their own in the ninth inning, but it was their inability to sacrifice that hurt them, when Nick Punto struck out after twice failing to bunt with a man on first.

Punto had six sacrifices in 166 regular-season plate appearances (the fourth-best rate of sacrifices per plate appearance for a position player in the majors), but on this day, he couldn’t make the necessary play to help the Cardinals to a victory.

US Presswire
C.J. Wilson and Chris Carpenter get the call in Game 1 of the 107th World Series. Carpenter is 1 win shy of tying for the most wins by an active pitcher in postseason play.

The 107th World Series begins Wednesday with the Texas Rangers visiting the St. Louis Cardinals. The AL has won 62 of the previous 106 series and the winner of Game 1 has won seven of eight and 12 of the last 14. There have been 102 Best-of-7 World Series. The winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the World Series 64 times (62.7 percent).

The Rangers are the first team lose the World Series and return the following season since the 1992 Atlanta Braves (who lost to the Toronto Blue Jays a year after losing to the Minnesota Twins). The last three AL teams to return to the Fall Classic a year after a loss have gone on to win the World Series. The last AL team to lose back-to-back World Series was the New York Yankees in 1963 and 1964.

The Cardinals are in their 18th World Series, tied for the second-most all-time with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals are making their third World Series appearance since the start of the 2004 season, the most of any team in that span.

On the Mound
C.J. Wilson gets the nod for Texas. Wilson has not enjoyed recent postseason success as he is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three starts this postseason. According to Elias, the only other time a Game 1 starter in the World Series had lost two previous games in that postseason was Tom Glavine for the Braves in 1992. He was 0-2 heading into his Game 1 start against the Blue Jays. He pitched a complete game and won.

A major problem for Wilson has been the long ball, as he has allowed six homers this postseason after giving up just 16 in 223⅓ innings during the regular season.

Chris Carpenter takes the mound for the Cardinals. Carpenter has seven career postseason wins which is one shy of Mariano Rivera for the most among active pitchers. The seven wins are also tied with Bob Gibson for the most in Cardinals history.

Carpenter will face a Rangers lineup that includes six regulars who bat right-handed. Carpenter’s main secondary pitch versus righties is a tight-breaking slider that sits in the high-80s. Carpenter likes to work his slider down and away to get hitters to expand their strike zone. However, he faces a tough challenge in a Rangers lineup that features some of the most disciplined hitters in the league against sliders.

Carpenter got right-handed hitters to chase 47 percent of his sliders that were out of the zone during the regular season, a mark that ranked in the top three in baseball among qualified righties. However, Rangers righties combined to chase just 24 percent of the sliders they saw, led by Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli. Each of them ranked in the top six in the league in chasing the lowest percentage of sliders against righties.

Stat of the Game
With frost and freeze warnings posted across much of Missouri and temperatures expected in the 40s for Game 1, it’s worth pointing out that neither team is used to these conditions. There were 39 games this season that were played at a game-time temperature of 100 or higher, with 27 of those games being played in Arlington.

The Cardinals played 15 games (10 at home) where the listed boxscore temperature was below 60. They went 5-10 in those games. The Rangers played 13 games with a boxscore temperature below 60, going 5-8 in those contests. All of those were on the road.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Matt Moore makes his second career start against the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Just two days removed from completing the greatest September rally in MLB history, the Tampa Bay Rays look to build on their strong finish against the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series.

Inside the Series
This is a rematch of last year’s ALDS, a series Texas won in five games. The series was unique in that it was the first in postseason history where the road team won every game.

The Rangers edged the Rays during the regular season, taking five of the nine meetings.

Rangers catcher Mike Napoli proved a particularly tough out against Tampa Bay this season, batting .407 with three home runs.

On the Mound
Taking the mound for the Rays will be left-hander Matt Moore, a September call-up who began this season as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.

Moore has made only one career start (with two appearances out of the bullpen), going 5.0 innings while allowing no runs on four hits, 1 walk and 11 strikeouts against the New York Yankees on Sept. 22 at Yankee Stadium.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Moore’s one career start is the fewest by a Game 1 starter in MLB postseason history.

Texas brings its own lefty to the mound in Game 1, sending C.J. Wilson to the hill. Wilson’s 2.56 ERA after the All-Star Break was second-best in the AL, behind Doug Fister (2.47). He had a 1.21 ERA in September and is 4-0 as a starter in his career against the Rays, combining regular season and the playoffs.

Getting Defensive
These teams ranked in the top four in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved this season – Tampa Bay was first, Texas was fourth. The strengths of these teams defensively have come at second, short and third base.

Ben Zobrist (17) and Ian Kinsler (16) ranked 1-2 in MLB in Defensive Runs Saved at second base. Elvis Andrus (13) ranked third in the majors, Elliot Johnson (11) ranked tied for fifth and Reid Brignac (8) tied for seventh among shortstops. Among third basemen, Adrian Beltre (17) ranked second in the majors and Evan Longoria (12) was fifth.

Stat of the Game
While the Rays dominated headlines for their late-season surge, they aren’t the only team in this series coming off a noteworthy September. The Rangers closed the book on the regular season with a .544 slugging percentage in September, the highest slugging percentage by a team in September in the live-ball era (since 1920).
The Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers continue a three-game series in Arlington at 8 ET on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

The Texas Rangers will try to extend their two-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. Despite the small lead in the standings, the Rangers have clearly been the more dominant team.

Texas has been in first place 136 days (including off days), while the Angels have spent 25 days in first place. In addition, Texas has never been below .500 this season, while the Angels have been as many as five games under .500. The Rangers also own a run differential of +95 while the Angels is +24.

On the mound

Jered Weaver takes the hill for the Angels on three days rest for the first time in his career. He is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA versus the Rangers this season. Weaver is 2-5 career at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The only ballpark at which he has a worse winning percentage than his .286 there (with more than one decision in that park) is Fenway Park (1-3, .250).

One of the keys for Weaver will be controlling the high-powered Rangers' offense. Their .283 batting average with runners in scoring position is the best in the AL.

Weaver has been very successful against such situations this season. He has stranded 83.7 percent of baserunners, the second-highest rate among all MLB starters, and his opponent batting average of .193 with runners on is third-best in the league.


Colby Lewis will take the mound for the Rangers. Lewis has struggled at home all season, allowing twice as many home runs at home and having a much lower strikeout rate than on the road.

In his last four starts against the Angels, he’s 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA. The Angels are 14-86 against him (.163 BA) with 24 strikeouts, nine walks and three home runs. Despite that, the Rangers are 0-4 in those four games.

The last time Lewis beat the Angels was a 12-3 win on Sept. 27, 2003.

Matchups

Elvis Andrus has had success against Weaver in the past. Andrus is 17 for 42 (.405) versus Weaver, including 10-14 this year; that’s the third-highest batting average by any active player (min. 25 at-bats) versus Weaver.


Mark Trumbo is making a case for AL Rookie of the Year.

Trumbo currently leads the Angels in home runs (23) and RBI (70), something no other Angels rookie has ever done. Additionally, Trumbo is just the sixth Angels rookie with 20 HR.

Stat of the game

The Angels have one of the best rotations in the league, ranking in the top three in key categories including ERA and WHIP. However, their bullpen has not been as strong. The bullpen has been susceptible to blowing late leads - their 21 blown saves are the most in the AL. Additionally, the team has 11 walk-off losses, second-most in the AL.

Katie Sharp and Mark Simon contributed to this story.

Webb's fastball key to redemption

December, 26, 2010
12/26/10
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The baseball offseason started with whispers of the Texas Rangers signing a former Cy Young winner for the long term. It’s now approaching the new year and the Rangers have indeed inked a former Cy Young winner, just not Cliff Lee and not necessarily for the long term.

Brandon Webb
Webb
The Rangers and starting pitcher Brandon Webb have reportedly come to an agreement on a contract. The deal, assumed to be for one year, is pending a physical. Webb has not pitched in the majors since Opening Day of 2009 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. It is not surprising, then, that the success or failure of this signing will hinge largely on Webb’s health and his ability to regain his former velocity.

Early reports on Webb's progress indicate that he has good movement on his sinker, but that his velocity is not yet back to where it was. In order to once again be effective, Webb will need to regain that speed on his fastball. Although he's never been a power pitcher, his heater gets more effective as its velocity increases.

From 2007 to 2009, opponents teed off on the slower end of his range, and were frequently jammed when he got up into the low 90s.

Webb’s ability to regain his velocity – and, thus, his effectiveness – will probably have to wait to be evaluated until at least Spring Training. In a vacuum, however, Webb’s addition makes a great deal of sense for the Rangers pitching staff.

Webb, since the beginning of his career, has thrived off his ability to induce ground balls. From 2003 to 2008, he was one of the top groundball pitchers in the Majors, posting a groundball rate of 64.3 percent according to Fangraphs, which was the highest in the majors during that time span.

Webb joins a Rangers staff that last season struggled to induce grounders. In 2010, Rangers pitchers had a groundball percentage of 41.5 percent, the 2nd-lowest rate in the majors, according to Fangraphs. Webb's addition could not only function to balance the rotation's strengths, but it could also help the pitcher himself, considering the presence of Elvis Andrus at shortstop.

Needless to say, there are a number of mitigating factors that will determine the success of this deal – the money involved, Webb’s health and his ability to regain his fastball – but, in theory, this groundball-inducing former Cy Young winner is a low-risk, high-reward fallback option after losing out on Lee.
The Rangers advance to their first World Series, ending a drought of 49 seasons dating back to their inaugural season in 1961. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other franchise among the four major pro sports had played as many seasons as the Rangers before reaching their first championship round. There are now two current MLB franchises that have never reached a World Series – the Mariners and the Nationals.

The Rangers are the third team all-time to defeat the Yankees in an ALCS, along with the 2004 Red Sox and the 1980 Royals. Texas also joins the 1997 Indians as the second team to defeat the Yankees in either the LCS or LDS when the Yankees were defending champions.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Rangers historic win as we empty our Stats & Info research notebook:

•  Elvis Andrus doubled in the first inning and now has a hit in each playoff game this season. His 11-game hit streak is tied for the fourth-longest to start a postseason career all-time.

•  In the fifth inning, Nelson Cruz hit his fifth career postseason homer, all of which have come in 2010. He matches Juan Gonzalez in 1996 for the most home runs by a Ranger in a single postseason, and is one shy of the postseason career record set by Gonzalez.

•  Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked four times. He is the fourth player to draw three intentional walks in a postseason game, joining Rudy York (1946 Red Sox), Jose Cruz (1980 Astros) and Barry Bonds (2002 Giants).

Josh Hamilton
Hamilton
•  Hamilton, who tied the record for home runs in a LCS with four, was named series MVP. He is the first outfielder to win ALCS MVP since David Justice for the 2000 Yankees.

•  Colby Lewis earned the win, becoming the third starting pitcher to beat the Yankees twice in a League Championship Series. Freddy Garcia beat the Yankees twice in 2000 and Tim Wakefield beat the Yankees twice in 2003.

•  The Elias Sports Bureau also tells us that Lewis joins Johnny Podres in the 1955 World Series as the only pitchers with a losing record in the regular season to defeat the Yankees twice in the postseason.

•  Lewis went eight innings and allowed just one run in the victory. He is the sixth starting pitcher to win and eliminate the Yankees while pitching at least eight frames and giving up no more than one run, and the first ever to also give up just three hits in the game.

•  The Rangers join the 2007 Red Sox as the only other team in postseason history to win a best-of-seven series, with all four wins coming by at least five runs.

•  With Cruz’s homer, the team has now homered in all 11 postseason games, which is one shy of the record for consecutive games with a HR in a single postseason set by 2004 Astros.

•  Phil Hughes had a series to forget, losing both of his starts while giving up 11 earned runs and seven doubles. He is third Yankees starter to lose twice in an LCS, joining Denny Neagle (2000) and Mike Mussina (2003). His 11 earned runs allowed are tied for the second-most in a single LCS, and his seven two-baggers allowed are the third-most in a single LCS.

•  Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the game. He is the third Yankee to get punched out to end a postseason series, joining Jorge Posada in the 2007 ALDS and Willie Randolph in the 1980 ALCS.

•  The Yankees had just three hits in the loss. That set a franchise record for fewest hits by the Yankees in a game in which they were eliminated from the postseason. In Game 8 of the 1921 World Series the Yankees had four hits in their 1-0 loss.

•  New York allowed 38 runs in this series, the second-most allowed by the team in a single postseason series. The only time they allowed more was in 2004 when they gave up 41 during their seven-game loss to the Red Sox.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Sabathia battled for six innings, but he helped the Yankees force the series back to Texas.

CC Sabathia (six innings, 11 hits, two earned runs, no walks, seven strikeouts) is the first pitcher since Bruce Hurst in 1986 to allow at least 11 hits and two runs or fewer in a postseason start.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Since joining the team in 2009, Sabathia has now won a team-high 16 starts (including two in the postseason) following a Yankees' loss.

Robinson Cano's four home runs in this series is one shy of the most HR in a postseason series by a second baseman. Chase Utley hit five HR in last year's World Series.

Cano and Josh Hamilton each have four HR in this series. The only other postseason series where opposing players each had four HR was the 2004 NLCS: Houston's Carlos Beltran and St. Louis' Albert Pujols.

During the regular season, C.J. Wilson allowed just one home run with no outs in an inning. In Game 5, Nick Swisher and Cano both homered off Wilson with no outs in the third inning. The home runs by Swisher and Cano were the first back-to-back home runs in a postseason game by the Yankees in an LCS since Game 3 of the 2000 ALCS at Seattle (Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez).

Kerry Wood has picked off two Rangers in this series (Ian Kinsler in Game 1, Elvis Andrus in Game 5). He's the first pitcher with two pickoffs in a postseason series since Mark Mulder did it in the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees.

In three wins, the Rangers are hitting .448 (13-for-29) with runners in scoring position, and just .176 (3-for-17) in two losses.

Stats & Info ALDS Preview: Rangers-Rays

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
3:06
PM ET

Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez had a knack for strong defensive play and clutch hitting, two factors that could be key in the postseason.



A capsule stat-based preview of the Texas Rangers-Tampa Bay Rays ALDS matchup.

Top things to know

The Rays led the American League in both walks and stolen bases, which partly accounts for how a team could finish near the bottom of the AL in batting average, yet near the top of baseball in runs scored (third-best in the majors).

The Rays also rank atop the majors by a huge margin in a Bill James-devised metric Baserunning Gain (ability to take an extra base on hits, outs and other plays). The Rangers rank second (+66 bases, 52 behind the Rays).

Josh Hamilton had the greatest offensive season by a member of the Texas Rangers. He had the highest batting average (.359) of any player in Rangers team history (for a team that led the AL in the stat), as well as the best OPS+ (OPS compared to league average, adjusted for ballpark), a 174.

Deciding factor

The Rays had the second-best record in baseball when opponents started a left-handed pitcher, and they'll face left-handers in each of the first two games. They beat Cliff Lee three times during the regular season in 2010. Evan Longoria, currently battling an injury, led the way with a .956 OPS against lefties, followed by B.J. Upton's .919.

The Rangers bullpen won 32 games this season, most of any American League team. Their four most frequently used relievers who are available for the ALDS (Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver and Alexi Ogando) combined for a 2.22 ERA, and had a strikeout-to-walk rate of 3.6 to 1.

Most interesting matchups

Vladimir Guerrero has good numbers against almost every Rays reliever of note, albeit in a limited number of meetings. He's 5-for-9 against Rafael Soriano, 3-for-5 against Dan Wheeler, 3-for-6 against Grant Balfour, and 4-for-15 (with four walks and a .450 on-base percentage) against Joaquin Benoit. If Tampa Bay puts James Shields in the bullpen, Guerrero is good against him too (.394 BA, 1.030 OPS).

With the first two games taking place in the afternoon, it's worth noting that the Rays .587 win percentage in day games ranked sixth-best in baseball. The Rangers were 24th out of 30 (19-25, .432 win pct). The biggest impact seemed to be with Hamilton, who hit .384 with an 1.121 OPS at night, compared to .286/.819 during the day.

Statistical secrets

Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez has all sorts of value to his team. His 18 defensive runs saved (a metric that measures ability to turn batted balls into outs, and turn double plays) rank best in baseball among second basemen.

Rodriguez also had an unusual knack for getting hits in big spots. He hit .400 (18-for-45) in "close and late" situations (defined by Baseball-Reference.com as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck).

The Rangers combination of Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon bunt for hits better than almost anyone. Fangraphs.com charted Borbon as tied with Erick Aybar for the major league lead with 18 bunts hits. Andrus ranked third with 13. Combining bunt hits and infield hits, the Rangers rated tops in the majors, by Fangraphs calculations, with 187.

SIG's Picks

Albert Larcada of ESPN Stats & Info did statistical analysis of the last 10 postseasons, looking for the factors that most separate winning and losing teams. He found three -- power hitting, front-end starting pitching, and the ability to turn batted balls into outs. Using his findings, he was able to make a projection.

For the Rangers-Rays matchup, Larcada's system picks the Rays in four games. He gives the Rays a 56.6 percent chance to win the series.
Ichiro
Today’s Trivia: The Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki is in the midst of his 10th straight season leading the American League in singles. Only two other AL players have had at least four consecutive seasons leading the league in singles. Can you name them?

Quick Hits: Are the New York Yankees a sure thing for the playoffs? Coolstandings.com gives them a 97.3 percent chance of making the postseason. A half game out of first place in the American League East and with a six-game lead in the Wild Card, that seems about right with 16 games left. Six of those games are against the Boston Red Sox, and the Yankees have lost eight of 10 heading into their three-game series with one of the hottest teams in baseball –- the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, the 58-88 Orioles, who host the Yankees for three games then travel to Boston for three. Let’s take a quick look at what the Orioles have done since manager Buck Showalter took over.

• 26-15 since Aug. 3, which is when Showalter took over. Only the Minnesota Twins (29-11) and Philadelphia Phillies (29-13) boast better records over that span. If the season started on that date, the Orioles would have a 3½-game lead over the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, while the Yankees would trail by four games.

• Showalter’s first game followed Baltimore’s 73rd loss. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 1997 Phillies hold the MLB record for most wins in history following a team’s 73rd loss. In Terry Francona’s first season as manager, the 1997 Phillies went 34-21 to finish the season after starting 36-73. With 16 games to go, the Orioles need to go 9-7 to top that win total.

• Another gem from the Elias Sports Bureau: By winning his first four games, Showalter became the first manager in MLB history to do that after taking over at team that was at least 30 games under .500.

• While Showalter certainly deserves huge accolades, another major factor was the return of Brian Roberts, who had played only 11 games prior to Aug. 3. He’s hitting .303 in 38 games since his return.

• Since Showalter took over, two of the top seven in the AL in ERA are Orioles starters: Brad Bergesen is 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA, while Jeremy Guthrie is 6-2 with a 2.64 ERA.

• In fact, prior to Showalter, Orioles’ starters were 17-55 with a 5.61 ERA. Since Aug. 3, they are 19-11 with a 2.92 ERA. So in just 41 games, their starters have eclipsed their combined win total from the first 105 games.


Friday’s Leaderboard: At .880, the Colorado Rockies easily have the highest OPS at home this season (the Yankees are next at .835). However, on the road, Colorado’s .657 OPS in the fourth worst in the majors, and its .228 batting average ranks dead last. The Rockies, who are 2.5 games back in both the NL West and Wild Card, begin a six-game road trip on Friday.

• Friday against the Texas Rangers, the Mariners' Felix Hernandez has a chance for a statement start on his quest for the American League Cy Young. However, like the rest of the AL West, King Felix has struggled against Texas this season. In four starts, he is 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA. Take a look at how much better his credentials look without those starts: 11-8, 1.92 ERA. So who has been the problem? No one has more hits off him this season than Elvis Andrus, who is 7-for-13 (.538) with five RBI.

• Is the Yankees' A.J. Burnett pitching for a spot in the postseason rotation? If so, take his performance Friday against the Orioles with a grain of salt. Burnett has a 2.48 ERA in 29 innings this season against Baltimore. Against everyone else, his ERA stands at 5.68. Non-Orioles are hitting .295 against him. The Oriole most confounded by Burnett is Matt Wieters, who is 0-for-9 this season, and 0-for-14 in his career.

Trivia Answer: From 1979-1982, Willie Wilson led the American League in singles, becoming the second AL player to do it for four straight seasons. The other was Nellie Fox, who did it for seven straight seasons from 1954-1960. No Ty Cobb? He never had more than two straight seasons.

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