Stats & Info: Ian Kinsler

Power by Scherzer, bats too much for Rays

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:53
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Thanks to Max Scherzer and an early power display, the Detroit Tigers opened up a four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays with an 8-1 win.

Scherzer dominates
Max Scherzer fell three outs short of the second complete game of his career, but he might have been even more dominant than he was in his shutout on May 12.

Scherzer allowed only two hits and one walk in his eight innings. It was only the second time in his career that he allowed three or fewer baserunners while recording at least 21 outs. He had an identical line – 8 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K – against the Cleveland Indians last May.

He did it with a much more effective fastball than over the last month. While posting a 4.81 ERA in June, he threw fastballs at least half the time in every game and 27 percent of his heaters were up in the zone. On Thursday, under half of his pitches were fastballs and on 19 percent were up.

Due to the better location, opposing hitters were only 1-for-14 with four strikeouts against his heater. During June, opponents hit .263 against his fastball.

It was Scherzer’s fourth straight win against the Rays after going 0-2 in his first three starts against Tampa Bay.

It was over when...
The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning. The Rays have been held to four or fewer runs in each of their last 19 meetings against Detroit.

According to Elias, that’s the longest streak in the American League since 1996-98, when the New York Yankees held the Toronto Blue Jays to four or fewer runs in 23 straight meetings.

Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter all hit home runs in the first inning. The Tigers are just the sixth team to hit three homers in an inning this season and the second to do so in the first (the other is the Los Angeles Angels on April 13 against the New York Mets).

Kinsler leads the Tigers in many ways

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
11:25
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Ian Kinsler has been a pretty good get for the Detroit Tigers.
Ian Kinsler
Kinsler
Kinsler had the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning as the Tigers rallied to beat the Houston Astros on Saturday.

The Tigers are loaded with star power between Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

But it’s Kinsler who leads the team in Wins Above Replacement this season. He has 3.6 Wins Above Replacement, or a hair more than the 3.5 he averaged in his last two seasons with the Texas Rangers, before being traded for Prince Fielder.

The home run was Kinsler’s 100th hit of the season. He’s on pace for 210, which isn’t bad considering he’s never finished a season with more than 168.

It was the second time in his career that he hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later. The other came in 2009, a walk-off home run to beat R.A. Dickey and the Minnesota Twins.

All-Around Standout
What has made Kinsler so valuable in 2014?

He rates first among those whose primary position is second base with a .489 slugging percentage and his .832 OPS ranks second, trailing only Scooter Gennett of the Milwaukee Brewers (.837). Kinsler’s 25 doubles rank second in the American League, trailing only Cabrera’s 28.

Kinsler also leads all second basemen with 10 Defensive Runs Saved, one shy of his 2013 total and a major improvement for the Tigers, whose second basemen combined for -7 Defensive Runs Saved in 2013.

Inside the at-bat
Kinsler homered on a 93-mph fastball from Jerome Williams over the outer-half of the plate.

Kinsler has been feasting on those pitches lately. In his last four games, he has eight hits (and only three missed swings) on outer-half pitches.

How he’s hitting
Kinsler’s rate of hard-hit balls (charted by a company that tracks such data for major-league teams and media) is actually lower this season (17 percent) than it was last season (20 percent), but his numbers are better on both ground balls (on which he’s hitting .311 (after never hitting better than .245 over the previous four seasons) and line drives (40 of 52 have gone for base hits).

Kinsler also handled the move from Texas to Detroit fine in the power department. He has six home runs at Comerica Park, or one more than he hit in Rangers Ballpark in 2013.

Looking Ahead
Keep an eye on whether Kinsler starts to wear down as the season gets past the midpoint.

Kinsler has hitorically been a much better player before the All-Star Break than after it.

He has a .285/.361/.473 slashline before the break, .260/.332/.430 after the break.

Kinsler may not have an opportunity to rest during the break. He could be only the second Tigers second baseman to make an All-Star team since Lou Whitaker retired. Placido Polanco was the last to do so, in 2007.

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 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.

Felix Doubront getting plenty of support

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
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Felix Doubront
Doubront
Felix Doubront has been a pleasant, but necessary, surprise for the Boston Red Sox this season. He’ll take the mound against the Texas Rangers on Monday Night Baseball (ESPN, 8 ET).

The Red Sox have the fourth-highest starters’ ERA in the majors this season and Doubront has the best ERA and K per 9 rate of any Sox pitcher with more than six starts. He leads the team with 10 wins, as many as All-Stars Jon Lester and Josh Beckett combined.

Doubront’s biggest weapon is his curveball. Only CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander have allowed a lower batting average against their curveball among qualified AL starters.

That pitch may not work as well in this game. The Rangers have two of the American League’s top five hitters in batting average against curveballs. Ian Kinsler is third (.409) and Michael Young is fifth (.371).

Against curveballs this season, Josh Hamilton leads the majors with six home runs, he and Kinsler are tied for the major league lead with 18 hits apiece and Hamilton’s .667 slugging percentage against the curve is seventh-best in the American League.

Doubront should be excited to hit the road, where his 3.09 ERA is more than two runs lower than his home ERA. The Red Sox are the only team in the majors with a losing record at home AND a winning record on the road.

But he’s gotten some help from the Boston offense, which leads the majors in runs scored. Doubront has received an average of 6.8 runs of support this season, tops in the majors.

In fact, the only two Sox starters with a winning record -- Doubront and Clay Buchholz -- are first and third in baseball in run support (minimum 10 starts).

Doubront has pitched well in three July starts, allowing a total of five earned runs. He’s done it with the help of his defense -- after allowing a .352 batting average on balls in play in June, his BABIP is just .200 this month.

He’s walking opponents three times as often this month as last, but he’s allowed just two home runs in July after allowing seven in June.

LOTS OF OFFENSE
The Red Sox lead the AL in runs scored and the Rangers are third. Only one team has been shut out fewer times than Texas this season.

The Rangers lead the majors in hits and batting average, are second in on-base percentage and slugging percentage and are fourth in home runs.

Despite a nine-run outburst Saturday, the Rangers offense has really struggled since the calendar turned to July. The team is just 6-9 in July after going 19-9 in June, and is averaging 3.1 runs per game in July, the worst in the American League.

STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Red Sox have the fourth-best run differential but just the 10th-best record in the American League.

AL East dominates divisional rankings

May, 4, 2012
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After one month of baseball, the American League East sits atop ESPN Stats & Info’s MLB Divisional Power Rankings by a wide margin.

Dating to last season, the AL East has never held a larger lead than its current 25.6-point lead over the National League East. Strong starts by the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays have given the AL East five of the top 12 teams in baseball, according to ESPN.com’s most recent power rankings.

Additionally, the AL East has been close to unstoppable outside of the division, posting a 44-25 (.637 win percentage) record in games against non-divisional opponents. No other division has a win percentage above .515 in non-divisional games.

What may be most surprising about the AL East is that unheralded names are making an impact for their teams. Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson rank fourth and 20th, respectively, in ESPN’s Player Rating system, combining for 15 of Toronto’s 32 home runs through May 2.

The AL West has its share of players off to fast starts with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish and Jered Weaver all ranking in the top 10 of ESPN’s batter and pitcher ratings. Five players from the AL West is the most from one division.

The Los Angeles Angels play 17 more games in May against teams that currently do not have a winning record. If the Angels can turn things around and live up to preseason expectations, the AL West has a chance to close the gap on the AL East.

The AL Central currently sits at the bottom of the divisional rankings with only one team above .500. Against non-divisional opponents, the AL Central is 29-48 (.377 win percent), by far the worst win percentage of any division.

The Minnesota Twins have been the worst team in baseball outside their division, winning five of 17 games against non-divisional opponents.

The weekend of May 18 presents several opportunities to shake up the rankings.

Divisional leaders clash in the National League, with the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers. Interleague highlights include the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds visiting the New York Yankees.

For a brief recap of how we rank the divisions, click here.

Tonight in Arlington, Sunday Night Baseball features a clash of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.

Texas leads the league in runs, but the most interesting thing to watch when the Rangers are batting will actually be the shifting Rays defense.

Last season Tampa Bay led the majors by shifting their infield 216 times, an average of 1.3 shifts per game.

This season the Rays have already used 125 infield shifts, amplifying their usage to nearly six times per game.

The huge spike in shifts has primarily been caused by adjusting more often against right-handed hitters. Last season, the Rays shifted on seven percent of such at-bats; this season, the number is 50 percent.

Is this hyper-shifting working? Perhaps. Twenty-one games into the season, the Rays rank 20th in defensive efficiency but are 2nd in defensive runs saved with 20.

Tampa Bay’s opponents are hitting .255 on ground balls this year, compared to the league average of .226.

Looking at a larger sample size, Rays opponents hit .222 on ground balls in 2011, notably worse than the league average of .237.

It’s worth pointing out that the shift not only affects ground balls, but also line drives. Opponents are hitting .642 on line drives against the Rays this season, six percentage points lower than the major-league average.

Again, this season’s sample size is small, but the Rays defense was very similar a year ago, also holding opponents to a line-drive batting average six percentage points lower than the major-league average.

Several Texas Rangers are strong candidates to see shifts tonight. Since 2009, Josh Hamilton has hit 68 percent of his ground balls to the middle-right or far-right portions of the field, with 19 percent to the middle-left or far-left.

Righties Ian Kinsler (74 percent) and Mike Napoli (75 percent) have both pulled about three-quarters of their ground balls since 2009. Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz aren’t far behind, at 65 percent each.

According to The Fielding Bible, the first known use of shifting was in 1946 against Ted Williams, who walked on four pitches. Sixty-six years later, the Rays are taking that idea to the extreme, and tonight’s game may be a showcase for their defensive revolution.

Information from Baseball Info Solutions was used in this post.

With new deals, Kinsler outpaces Phillips

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
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AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Despite signing similar contract extensions, Ian Kinsler has out produced Brandon Phillips in every season since 2007 by Wins Above Replacement.
Two of the premier second basemen in baseball have signed contract extensions over the last 24 hours. Late Monday, the Texas Rangers and Ian Kinsler agreed to a multiyear extension. Then, Tuesday afternoon, the long-rumored extension between the Cincinnati Reds and Brandon Phillips came to fruition.

Given that both play the same position, are of similar ages and signed deals of both similar value and similar length, a comparison seems natural.

Kinsler’s contract is a five-year, $75 million deal with a sixth-year option. Phillips’ is a six-year, $72.5 million deal. However, both teams functionally have their second basemen under control for at least six years, given that Kinsler’s extension does not kick in until 2013, whereas Phillips’ begins this season.

Even though the two players will be compensated in similar fashion over the next five or six seasons, the quality of their play leading up to the extensions has been of much different quality. While Kinsler may get overshadowed on a star-studded team and Phillips may garner attention for his Twitter and fielding antics, Kinsler is the far superior player.

Kinsler has out produced Phillips in every season since 2007 by WAR. In fact, Kinsler (23.2 WAR) outranks the likes of Robinson Cano (22.6 WAR) and Dan Uggla (13.4 WAR) in terms of production since 2007.

Very few second basemen retain this sort of high-level value deep into their 30’s. Kinsler will be locked up for both his age-34 and 35 seasons (as well as 36 if the option is picked up), while Phillips will be under contract in his age 34-to-36 seasons, also. The number of second basemen since 1900 who have contributed seasons of 3+ WAR at age-34 or older is exclusive and limited to some of the greatest players to play the position in MLB history.

Among second basemen, only Eddie Collins (1921-26), Jeff Kent (2002-07), Charlie Gehringer (1937-40), Lou Whitaker (1991-93) and Joe Morgan (1980-83) have at least three straight seasons of 3+ WAR since 1900. No one else has done it more than twice (Willie Randolph and Eddie Stanky have done it twice). A 3-WAR season already assumes some skill degradation for Kinsler and would actually constitute an improvement for Phillips over the last few seasons. Yet they will be paid as if 3+ WAR is almost assumed.

Cardinals, Rangers strong on mound so far

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
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The pitch locations on which Allen Craig has gotten his six hits this postseason.
Click here to create your own Craig custom heat maps and images


Think about how close this World Series has been. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are even in games, even in runs, even in errors and one apart in hits (the Rangers have 11, the Cardinals have 12).

It is a World Series in which pitching has dominated, with the Game 2 starters Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia matching the efforts that their respective bullpens have put in this postseason.

The pitching has been so good that each team held the other to six hits or fewer in each of the first two games of this World Series. The last time both teams were held to six hits or fewer in Games 1 and 2 was in 1981, when the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers did so.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first World Series in 37 years in which neither team scored more than three runs in either of the first two games. That had last happened in 1974, when the Athletics defeated the Dodgers in five games. The only game of that series which did not end with a 3-2 final score was Game 4, which Oakland won 5-2.

Albert Pujols
Pujols
The Rangers' pitching has been good enough to hold Albert Pujols to 0-for-6 so far. Pujols is actually just 3-for-21 in World Series play dating back to the start of the 2006 World Series (a series the Cardinals won despite his hitting .200).

The Cardinals' pitching has been good enough to record 16 strikeouts to just three walks in the first two games. Their staff has whiffed 85 hitters and yielded just 25 walks. This could be the first time in Cardinals postseason history that their pitchers finished a postseason with a strikeout-to-walk rate of at least 3-to-1.

Some other noteworthy nuggets gleaned from mining the numbers through these first two games World Series include:

Ian Kinsler
Kinsler
• Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has four hits, three coming on pitches that were in the lower-third of the strike zone or below the knees.

During the regular season, Kinsler had only a .243 batting average on balls in play (and no home runs) against pitches to that location, a success rate that put him in the bottom 20 percent of major leaguers. But within the small sample of two games, he’s been able to produce positive results.

• Similarly, Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig (who may DH in the games in Texas) has been able to hit the knee-level pitch. Both of his pinch-hits in this series have come on pitches that were at the bottom of the strike zone.

The image at the top of this article shows the range of locations on which Craig has gotten his six hits this postseason.

• After giving up three hits in four at-bats against right-handed hitters in the Division Series against the Phillies, Cardinals lefty Marc Rzepczynski has been terrific against right-handers in the last two rounds. They are 1-for-their-past-14 against him.

This is due largely to the effectiveness of his changeup and slider. He’s thrown seven of eight for strikes to right-handed hitters in the World Series.

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.
The Texas Rangers advanced to the ALCS with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s the second consecutive season they’ve beaten Tampa Bay in the divisional series to advance to the League Championship Series for just the second time in franchise history.

Adrian Beltre hit three home runs, just the fourth player in major-league history to hit three homers in a postseason series-clinching game. Beltre, George Brett and Babe Ruth are the only players with three solo homers in a postseason game.

The Rangers are just the second team in postseason history to win a game in which they scored at least four runs and all their runs came on solo home runs.

They join the 1995 Cleveland Indians who beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-3, in Game 3 of their ALDS.

Ian Kinsler led off the game with a home run, the first leadoff longball in postseason franchise history, and the first time in 30 postseason games the Rangers got a home run from the leadoff spot in the order (in any inning). Kinsler led the majors with seven leadoff homers in the regular season.

Matt Harrison started for the Rangers and tied his career-high with nine strikeouts in five innings pitched. He’s the second pitcher in postseason history to strike out at least nine in five innings or fewer, joining Steve Blass of the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s the fifth straight home game the Rays have lost to the Rangers in the postseason, tied for the third-longest active streak of its kind and tied for the fourth-longest that began after World War II (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

Looking ahead to the ALCS, the Rangers struggled with both possible opponents. They were 2-7 with a 6.69 ERA against the New York Yankees and 3-6 with a 4.96 ERA against the Detroit Tigers.

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).

Facts on AL surprising starts

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
2:02
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: Set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July, Bert Blyleven turns 60 today. Among those who have already been up for a vote, who now has the most career strikeouts for a pitcher not in the Hall of Fame?

Quick Hits: A quick look at the numbers behind the four most surprising starts in the American League.

Tampa Bay Rays
• Ian Kinsler and Jose Tabata have both scored more runs (7) than the Rays (6).
• In innings 4-6, the Rays are 2-for-38 (.053).
• It’s tough to start rallies when you are hitting .098 with no outs.
• The Rays are batting .105 in at-bats lasting longer than one pitch.
• Last season, the Rays were 86-36 when allowing five runs or fewer. This season? 0-4.

Boston Red Sox
• Much has been made about the Red Sox having a lefty heavy lineup, but consider this: Red Sox lefties are batting .300 against southpaws, while right-handed hitters are just 3-for-32 (.094).
• From the sixth inning on, the Red Sox are hitting just .125 (7-for-56).
• Boston’s 7-to-9 hitters are a combined 4-for-38 (.105).
• The first time through the lineup, opponents are hitting .171 off Red Sox starters. After that, they’re hitting .417.
• The Red Sox have allowed 12 runs in the fourth inning alone. That’s more than four teams have allowed all season.
• No team in MLB history has rebounded from a 0-4 start to win the World Series. Only the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals reached the World Series after starting the year with four straight defeats and they lost to the Kansas City Royals in seven games.

Baltimore Orioles
• Opposing 3-5 hitters are 4-for-45 (.089) this season.
• Through four games, the opposition has a total of two hits in the first two innings and a .077 batting average.
• The Orioles were 39-88 in 2010 when scoring less than six runs. This season? 4-0.
• Opponents are hitting .136 against the O’s starters, who have allowed a total of 12 hits. Matt Garza allowed that many in his first start for the Cubs.
• At 4-0, the Orioles are looking for their first 5-0 start since 1970, a year they won the World Series.

Kansas City Royals
• Kansas City’s relievers are 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA. Last season, the bullpen went 21-27 with a 4.46 ERA.
• Opponents are actually hitting .288 against the Royals, the fourth highest in the majors. But with runners in scoring position, they have a .180 batting average. That means opponents are hitting .323 when there aren’t runners in scoring position.
• The Royals have won consecutive games lasting longer than 11 innings for the first time since April 1969.

Trivia Answer: Among those that have already been up for a vote, Mickey Lolich‘s 2,832 strikeouts are the most for a pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.
Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera
• Miguel Cabrera homered twice as the Detroit Tigers outmuscled the New York Yankees to salvage the final game of their opening three-game series in the Bronx.

It was Cabrera's 19th career multi-homer game, and second at the new Yankee Stadium. Both of his home runs came against cut fastballs from Phil Hughes.

In the loss, the Yankees Jorge Posada also went deep twice, the 17th time in his career he has done so.

However this was the first time he has done so as a designated hitter. Each of the previous 16 came while he was playing catcher.

• For the third straight game to open the season Mark Teixeira hit a home run.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankees player to hit a home run in each of the first three games of the season was Dave Winfield in 1983.

Ian Kinsler
Kinsler
Nelson Cruz
Cruz
• Texeira isn't the only player to have homered in each of the first three games of this season.

His former teammates with the Rangers, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, both homered for the third straight game to kick off the 2011 campaign.

Kinsler and Cruz are the first set of teammates in Major League Baseball history to do so in each of their team's first three games.

Who’s hot and who’s not to start the 2011 season:

• The Texas Rangers hit 11 home runs and scored 26 runs in a season-opening sweep of the Boston Red Sox.

Boston is 0-3 for the first time since they starting the 1996 season 0-5. The only positive sign was Carl Crawford, who after opening the season 0-for-7, had two hits and an RBI today.

• Crawford’s former team the Tampa Bay Rays have struggled to find offense, getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

The Rays scored just one run in each of their first three games to start the season.

According to Elias, they are the first team since the 2007 St. Louis Cardinals to score one run or fewer in each of their first three games.

Meanwhile the Orioles are 3-0 for the first time since 1997. That season they won 98 games, the last time they finished over .500.

• The Philadelphia Phillies are 3-0 for the first time since 2001 after finishing off a sweep of the Houston Astros.

Philadelphia hasn’t started 4-0 since 1915, when they started 8-0.

The Phillies starters have been as good as advertised. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt have combined to go 2-0, with a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings.

Each pitcher didn't allow more than 5 hits, and they have 23 combined strikeouts compared to just one walk.

• After a rocky start to 2011, the New York Mets rebounded nicely to take two of three from the Florida Marlins on the road.

Last year, the Mets didn't win a road series against a team from the National League until August 20-22 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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