This may sound familiar.
The Rangers are an interesting team. Not very good, but just good enough to be a smidge over .500, which puts them in the mix along with…everybody…for a wild card spot. All together now, thank you Hall of Famer Bud Selig for bringing the gift of mediocrity to our national pastime.
But as I said, they’re interesting…
When you do some digging into the numbers you see a whole lotta’ average, as you would expect from a team with a 70-69 record (and only a slightly better 73-66 Pythagorean expected W/L record).
In the run prevention business, they’re 8th in the American League in runs allowed per game. Not bad when you factor in their hitter friendly park – whatever it’s called this week. But they do play with fire…
They’re 14th in the American League in strikeout to walk ratio, so the Yankees will certainly put the ball in play. Where Texas keeps the game manageable for themselves is doing an OK job of keeping the ball in the park: They’re 5th in the AL in ground ball percentage, 5th in Home Run to fly ball percentage, 6th in ground ball to fly ball ratio and 6th in opponents’ soft contact percentage.
Again, none of those number are great, but good enough to keep the games tight.
Then they try to beat you by putting the ball in the seats more than you do. And they’re pretty good at that.
The Rangers are 3rd in the AL in runs scored. This despite being pedestrian in On Base Percentage, base running, avoiding weak contact, and staying in the strike zone.
What they do very well is hit the ball hard and in the air. They’re first in the league in fly ball percentage, first in the league in HR to fly ball ratio, and wait for it…first in the AL in HR. This is why they’re 3rd in runs scored.
But they do hurt themselves by simply missing the ball so damn much. They strike out more than all but two AL teams and they swing and miss more than all but one.
It’s real simple: If they hit the ball hard in the air, which they’re good at, they have a shot. If you can get them to chase low and/or hit the ball on the ground, you win.
This is good news for the Yankees because Texas ranks 2nd in the AL in runs above average against fastballs, but in the bottom 3rd of the league against everything else (curves, changeups, sliders, and cutters).
Throw the junk low, Yankee pitchers, throw the junk low.
This is nothing new in 2017 baseball: Get guys on, hit the ball over the wall and do it better than the other team does. This is basically what the Yankees just saw in Baltimore, but Texas is better at run prevention.
Starters need to keep the soft stuff down, keep the game(s) close, get the swing and miss guys in the bullpen involved and it’s the Yankees win…Thhuuuhhhh…Yankees win!
Thanks as always to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for the stats.