Little up the middle. 204 comments

With the talk of who will replace Josh Hamilton, it’s important the Rangers think more about defense than offense.

Don’t forget, the person standing next to Hamilton’s replacement is one of the worst at his position. Oftentimes he looks lost. I did some research and discovered that during the course of a season, many balls are hit into the outfield. It is beneficial to a team’s success if a few of them are actually caught.

A big stick in left field is a wonderful thing to have if you have it, but the Rangers don’t. They have not addressed their left field hole for a few years now and there isn’t a great bat on the market at this late date. The Rangers couldn’t afford to pay him anyway.

Let’s not forget the Rangers won the division last year and didn’t have any production at all from left field. They would have gotten better production had they have had a “Today One Lucky Fan Gets To Play Left Field” contest before each game.

Frankly, defense is what worries me the most about the 2016 Rangers. It is, and was, their Achilles Heel.

The old axiom is that you win with great defense up the middle. Up the middle the Rangers have Robinson Chirinos, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, and Delino DeShields. Nobody has to be reminded of the fine defense Odor and Elvis Andrus indelibly stamped into our memories in Game 5.

Rougned Odor was one of only eleven American League second basemen with enough games to qualify for defensive titles. Odor finished eleventh out of eleven in fielding percentage, ninth out of eleventh in defensive WAR, and committed the most errors of the eleven. If Odor is going to be the All-Star people predict, it won’t be because of his glove.

Out of ten qualifying A.L. shortstops, Elvis Andrus was ninth in fielding percentage, and committed the second most errors (thank you, Marcus Semien).

Seventy-nine players were center fielders in the American League in 2015. Delino DeShields was sixty-eighth in fielding percentage, seventy-fourth worst in defensive WAR, and, in the entire league, only one center fielder committed more errors.

At least Chirinos is solid, and maybe better than solid, although in 2015, of American League catchers with at least seventy-five games played (I picked that number because Chirinos didn’t play enough to qualify but caught in seventy-eight games), Chirinos finished fifteenth in fielding percentage, which, granted, isn’t the most accurate way to judge a catcher. But it is one way. And it wasn’t flattering.

On the bright side, only four catchers (with at least seventy-five games) gave up fewer passed balls. He was tenth in catcher ERA, fourteenth in range factor, eleventh in caught stealing percentage, and fourth in defensive WAR.

Chirnos, Andrus, Odor, DeShields. That is your defense up the middle.

So, to repeat: Find someone who owns some leather for left field.

And find someone good at calculating unearned runs.