When the Rangers offense is clicking, as it has quite often since Adrian Beltre returned, this is a formidable group of hitters. Yesterday’s 8-1 win over the Yankees was another display of that.
But even though Beltre’s bat is a huge addition to the lineup, the wins haven’t followed.
When Adrian Beltre returned to the lineup in late May, the Rangers were 25-26. They promptly lost six of eight. They are just 12-11 since his return.
Carlos Gomez, Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre have played in the same lineup just nine games in 2017. The Rangers are just 5-4.
Beltre, Gomez, and Napoli have been producing pretty well in those nine games. So, too, have Choo, Andrus, DeShields, and Chirinos. You’d think with so many key guys contributing, the Rangers would be racking up the wins.
Yet they are treading water.
During yesterday’s broadcast, however, Matt Hicks shed some light on the problem: The Rangers have a huge gaping hole in the middle of their lineup.
Collectively this season, the number five slot for Texas has an OPS of .650.
If you recall back in March I wrote about how to interpret OPS. Anything from .850 to .900 is All-Star level. Drop down a few notches, from .750 to 799 is average. Drop down a few notches from there, anything below .700 is considered major league bench player. These are not my designations. These are industry norms.
So that means, the number five hitter for the Texas Rangers in 2017 is the equivalent of a bench player.
That .650 OPS is, by the way, second worse in baseball, only to the Angels. The major-league average OPS for the number five slot in the lineup this year is .792. The Yankees came into yesterday’s game at .970 at number five.
Out of the 164 players who qualify, only 12 have an OPS lower than .650. Basically, Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson are the Rangers number five hitter this year.
Adam Rosales’s lifetime OPS is .658.
After yesterday’s 0-for-4 in the five hole, Rougned Odor’s OPS for the season now sits at .631. Only eight major leaguers are worse.
Yet he has batted fifth in 55 of the team’s 74 games. His OPS in those games is an even worse .594. The numbers prove he is better elsewhere in the lineup.
Yet, there he is, every game, batting fifth. In a prime RBI slot. Failing to produce. For a team desperate to breathe over-.500 air.
Actually, don’t look at the figures. It will just make your eyes water and your blood boil.
Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33) vs. Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56)
Game time: 1:05