Offense: Ian Kinsler-2B, Elvis Andrus-SS, Lance Berkman-DH, Adrian Beltre-3B, David Murphy-LF, Nelson Cruz-RF, A.J. Pierzynski-C, Mitch Moreland-1B, Leonys Martin-CF. Bench: Geovany Soto-C, Jeff Baker-UTIL, Leury Garcia-UTIL, Craig Gentry-OF.
TEX R/G: 4.54. CHW R/G: 3.56.
First off, sorry this is a day late. We're getting close to finals time and a week with two pathology tests has messed up my mental calender. Ian Kinsler is off to an incredibly hot start, with an OPS of .919 throughout the season's first month. That's good for a nice and clean .400 wOBA, which is pretty fantastic from any hitter, much less a team's second baseman. It looks like age isn't catching up to him quite yet. Kinsler has always been good defensively, and while he's been a 30-30 threat in the past should probably be expected to be a 20-20 kind of player from here out. Elvis Andrus came into this season with the prospect of prospect Jurickson Profar making him redundant a tangible possibility. Elvis has not done much to help himself so far. While he's never been a particularly strong hitter, an OPS+ of 60 isn't going to make anyone happy even when combined with sterling defense. Andrus will draw walks and is very fast, though he's been a little less successful than you'd want someone running as much as he does over the last four seasons to be.
The decision to sign Lance Berkman gives the Rangers a Fat Elvis to go with their actual Elvis, which is pretty neat. Berkman has always been great at drawing walks, but his current rate of drawing one just under every five plate appearances (19.1% BB%) is simply insane. Yes, it cannot be sustained, but it's fun to take note of anyways. After a season lost to injury with the Cardinals last summer, the 37-year-old is showing that he clearly has something good left in the tank and playing DH in a hitter friendly stadium should agree nicely with him. If he can stay healthy (huge if: the last time he played more than 150 games was the last time we made the playoffs), he might reach 20 homeruns with an OBP damn near .400. I really wish we had someone on our team close enough to Adrian Beltre that they could get away with this, but alas, Kevin Youkilis is gone. Beltre's had some bad luck thus far (.200 BABIP), but is still showing the power (5 HR, 5 2B) that has been his offensive calling card. It's somewhat unfair that the best defensive third baseman I've ever seen gets to also have 30 homerun power, but then again he's also a crazy person so I guess you take what you can get. If he doesn't make the Hall of Fame after he's retired, just shut the place down.
David Murphy has had the benefit of getting to play on some very good teams in a very good park for hitting. He's never really done anything amazing, but until this season's massive slump hasn't done anything truly terrible either. Maybe it's just the pressure of knowing this abomination is named after you and responsible for the early death of anyone foolish enough to eat it? I can't imagine that wouldn't weigh heavily on one's conscience, but then again I have trouble imagining having a conscience (I chose a pantheon for my head instead of the traditional angel and devil. I read too much as a child). Murphy has middle-teens homerun power, will draw enough walks, and plays a good left field. He's just not the kind of player you worry too much about keeping once he hits free agency, which will be this winter. Nelson Cruz calls his bat his Boomstick, which ... I now love you Nelson Cruz. Jon Daniels, please just find some player named Ash and you can have the most Evil Dead team ever and I will throw money at you for it. Cruz is off to a pretty nice start, hitting six homeruns to go with his sweet .899 OPS. I guess he's not letting the potential fallout from the Miami clinics interfere with his season, which is good for him and Texas. He still possesses massive power, but as tends to happen in older players, he has lost a step or two. He's no longer the stolen base threat he once was and is a bit less rangey in right field.
The last time A.J. Pierzynski batted against the White Sox the Montreal Expos still existed and I did not have a driver's license. I won't waste many words on a man we've watched for the past eight years because nothing has changed: he's still hitting the ball well and not doing much of anything behind the plate. It will be interesting to see how much of a green light Robin give Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios when A.J. is actually playing. Mitch Moreland is a first baseman who bats eighth. That sentence has just told you everything you need to know about Mitch Moreland. He is a league average bat at a position that requires more on most teams. The Rangers are not most teams. Leonys Martin is the center fielder against right-handed pitchers. He's a young Cuban who has hit well in the minors, though he hasn't quite put it together since being called up. He makes terrible decisions when it comes to stealing bases.
Pitching: Yu Darvish-RHP, Derek Holland-LHP, Alexi Ogando-RHP, Nicholas Tepesch-RHP, Justin Grimm-RHP, Joe Nathan-C.
TEX RA/G: 3.31. CHW RA/G: 4.24.
Feels a bit silly covering Yu Darvish since you all watched him pitch last night, but that's never stopped me before. Yu is one of the few Japanese pitchers to actually live up to the hype after crossing the Pacific. And he's continuing to improve, which is worrisome. I'm not entirely sure that he's human, but signs so far have pointed to yes so until he leaks fuel or at the very least different colored blood, it looks like the American League (and select unfortunate National League teams) will just have to adjust. Instead of describing his four million pitches, I'll just link to the GIF you've all seen by now. Derek Holland is the only left-handed starter in the Rangers rotation. His Twitter handle means farting under the covers. I can't judge though, as mine has somehow tricked people into thinking I'm actually the rapper from the Wu-Tang Clan and I cannot imagine why they think he cares so much about baseball and the Illini. While Holland is not the strikeout machine Darvish is, he still gets his while not walking many hitters. No, Derek's weakness is homeruns. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s, a slider, and changeup, and a curveball.
Alexi Ogando essentially lost five years of his career due to participating in a human trafficking ring, which ... wow. He's a starter once more after being a reliever last season. Ron Washington just likes to keep him confused. He strikes out fewer hitters per nine as a starter than as a reliever, but that just kind of comes with having to pitch more than an inning or two at a time. If they stop messing with him and just let him remain in a given role for consecutive years, he should be a pretty good mid-rotation starter or set-up man. Ogando uses a mid-90s fastball, a strong slider, and a changeup. Nicholas Tepesch sounds more like a character from a John Le Carré novel than a pitcher from Kansas City, Missouri. But he's not! Also, I don't care that he goes by Nick. I want to pretend he's a Soviet spy and you cannot stop me. He doesn't seem to have the stuff to be much more than a 4th starter, but there's nothing wrong with that. So far he has induced a good deal of ground balls, which is perfect for a man with three potential Gold Glovers sharing his infield dirt. He throws a fastball in the low-90s, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup.
Justin Grimm has a fantastic name for a pitcher, though it feels like more of a closer's name. Think about it: sooner or later the Grimm Reaper comes for everyone. GOOSEBUMPS! He gets strikeouts, limits walks, and keeps the ball down so hopefully my new name crush will continue to get chances in the majors as he continues to deserve them. Grimm relies heavily on a low-90s fastball and curveball combo, though he mixes in a changeup too. I very much like the idea Joe Nathan pitching to the man he was traded for. I liked it last year when Francisco Liriano had to do the same. Now the Rangers just need to go get Boof Bonser. Nathan is still a very good closer who just crossed the 300 save mark earlier this season. The number might not mean what it once did, but it's still an impressive milestone. His fastball now sits in the low-90s, and he mixes it in with his slider, curveball, and changeup.
Outlook: Simply put, the Rangers are a much better team than we are this year. Sox lose the season series 2-4.
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