Taking "Luck" Out of Baseball: Texas Rangers

In a follow up to my post from last week which assessed the luck (or misfortune) of Vernon Wells and some of the 2010 Angels, this article will take a look at the 2010 Texas Rangers. By applying the same methodology I used in the previous article, I'm looking for any abnormalities in certain peripherals (BABIP, xBABIP, HR/FB%) which might give us an idea on whether or not the defending American League Champions are as good as advertised, or if they might have out-produced their performance.

For the record, I am writing this introduction before I have done any research on the 2010 Rangers. If my findings show that the Rangers benefited from some good "luck" last season, don't take it as me being an overly-optimistic homer. The findings will be news to me as well... Here we go..

LINEUP (Not concerned about actual batting order)

Elvis Andrus - SS

2010 xBABIP: .351

2010 BABIP: .317

Career HR/FB%: 3.3%

2010 HR/FB%: 0%

The young short stop put together a pretty solid season last year despite some misfortune with his BABIP and inability to knock a ball out of the park. His peripherals say he was better than his numbers show.. With neutral luck his season could have looked something like..

2010 Actuals: .265-88-0-35-32-.643

2010 Adjusted: .298-98-3-42-35-.709


Michael Young - DH

2010 xBABIP: .328

2010 BABIP: .311

Career HR/FB%: 9.9%

2010 HR/FB%: 11.2%

Young was slightly unlucky with his BABIP in 2010 but his HR/FB rate came in higher than his career norm of right around 10% (a number that is likely inflated due to two seasons of 14% and 15%). All in all, his production appears to have matched his performance last season.

2010 Actuals: .284-99-21-91-4-.774

2010 Adjusted: .288-97-18-89-4-.772


Josh Hamilton - LF

2010 xBABIP: .330

2010 BABIP: .390

Career HR/FB%: 18.3%

2010 HR/FB%: 20.6%

Like most MVP-caliber seasons, Hamilton's 2010 campaign was the perfect combination of a ton of skill met with some great luck. Hamilton is a fantastic player, but a BABIP 60 points over its expectation surely has a substantial effect on a player's final stat line. The numbers say he also got a little lucky with his HR/FB%..A 9% HR/FB% in 2009 drags down his career rate, so one could certainly argue his 20% rate is the real deal. But for the sake of consistency with my methodology we have to also scale down his power numbers from his 2010 numbers. With neutral luck, Hamilton's MVP season may have looked more like..

2010 Actuals: .359-95-32-100-8-.1.044

2010 Adjusted: .303-83-28-81-6-.893


Nelson Cruz - RF

2010 xBABIP: .319

2010 BABIP: .348

Career HR/FB%: 16.1%

2010 HR/FB%: 15.2%

Like Hamilton, Cruz also benefited with a little luck in the BABIP category last season. Although, he suffered a slight down tick with his HR/FB rate. Overall, his performance and production were pretty similar.

2010 Actuals: .318-60-22-78-17-.950

2010 Adjusted: .295-59-23-74-16-.905


Adrian Beltre - 3B

2010 xBABIP: .313

2010 BABIP: .331

Career HR/FB%: 13.1%

2010 HR/FB%: 13.5%

The peripherals say that aside from a little help in the batting average department with some fortunate BABIP, Beltre's 2010 season was legit. He ought to be a quality run producer in the Rangers lineup in 2011. (Ouch)

2010 Actuals: .321-84-28-102-2-.918

2010 Adjusted: .300-80-27-95-2-.862


Ian Kinsler - 2B

2010 xBABIP: .313

2010 BABIP: .313

Career HR/FB%: 9.8%

2010 HR/FB%: 6.5%

Kinsler suffered from an all-time low in his HR/FB rate; something that should rebound in 2011. Still, not much of a threat from the disabled list. This iron man's season should have looked a little better than it did at the end of the day, but not much..

2010 Actuals: .286-73-9-45-15-.794

2010 Adjusted: .295-78-14-51-15-.828


Mitch Moreland - 1B

2010 xBABIP: .324

2010 BABIP: .275

Career HR/FB%: 21.4%

2010 HR/FB%: 21.4%

In Moreland's shortened stint at the big league level he roped line drive after line drive (23%) while showing some pretty nice pop. His xBABIP shows that his .255 batting average was mostly due to some back luck. It should be noted that his career HR/FB% is merely based off this season and I honestly don't know enough about the guy's minor league track record to comment on whether or not that is sustainable. However, for the sake of consistency, we will assume it is..

2010 Actuals: .255-20-9-25-3-.833

2010 Adjusted: .281-21-9-27-3-.867


Yorvit Torrealba - C

2010 xBABIP: .325

2010 BABIP: .321

Career HR/FB%: 9.9%

2010 HR/FB%: 10.9%

Torrealba's production numbers are backed by his peripherals as his 2010 campaign was hardly affected by any luck, good or bad..

2010 Actuals: .271-31-7-37-7-.721

2010 Adjusted: .271-30-6-36-7-.705


Julio Borbon - CF

2010 xBABIP: .317

2010 BABIP: .313

Career HR/FB%: 5.1%

2010 HR/FB%: 2.8%

In two major league seasons Borbon has posted a 12.5% HR/FB rate and a 2.8% HR/FB rate. Who knows where he truly lies. I suppose we just have to split the difference.. Not much to get excited about..

2010 Actuals: .276-60-3-42-15-.649

2010 Adjusted: .281-62-5-45-15-.664


And of course I can't get away with posting this without including Texas' new C/1B/DH/Sharkeez-Skank-Annihilator..

Mike Napoli

2010 xBABIP: .330

2010 BABIP: .279

Career HR/FB%: 18.1%

2010 HR/FB%: 19.3%

Naps was robbed by the baseball god's in 2010 sporting a BABIP 50 points below where it deserved to be. However, due to a lack of converting non-HRs into RBI, it doesn't seem to have a huge effect on his bottom line.. (That was not a jab at his low batting average with RISP; rather that is part of the equation with the tool that I use to normalize numbers)

2010 Actuals: .238-60-26-68-4-.784

2010 Adjusted: .265-61-24-73-5-.811


As you would expect from any club, some of the hitters suffered from a little misfortune while others reaped the benefits of having luck on their side for a full season. Obviously, the player that stands out the most is reigning MVP Josh Hamilton whose peripherals suggest he played much more like an all-star than a league MVP. Even if Hamilton comes back down to earth the Rangers are not going to struggle to score runs. Another 750+ run season is likely in their future.


ROTATION (Via depth chart at

As I mentioned in my previous article, the tool I developed to "adjust" these numbers was originally developed to gain an edge in my fantasy baseball leagues. Due to the fact that I have league mates reading this article, I don't want to show too much of my work. The following was computed using "skill stats" such as K-rate and BB-rate, along with other peripherals that may indicate a pitcher's "luck".

C.J. Wilson

Wilson's breakout year featured a K/9 under 8 (an anticipated drop as he moved from the bullpen), and a BB/9 rate over 4. Guys that can't throw out a K/BB above 2 are not sub-4 ERA pitchers in the big leagues without a lot of luck on their side (See 2008 Joe Saunders). In 2008, Saunders posted a 3.41 ERA with similar peripherals to C.J., including a very low BABIP and a very low HR/FB%. Both of which C.J. benefited from greatly in 2010. Bottom line, this dude ain't as good as advertised. Add that he saw a 130 inning spike in his work load last season and I would set the bar much lower for the Ranger "ace".

2010 Actuals: 3.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

2010 Adjusted: 4.08 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Colby Lewis

If Texas has an ace in its rotation, it's probably  this guy. He is much more dominant than Wilson (8.8 K/9) and commands the ball much better with a BB/9 just under 3. That said, Lewis' brilliant return to the big leagues was also aided by a low HR/FB rate and considerably low BABIP. Even with lady luck on his side, the dude posted a 3.72 ERA because he tossed nearly 45% fly balls, which is clearly a death wish in Arlington..

2010 Actuals: 3.72 ERA, 1.31 WHIP

2010 Adjusted: 4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Tommy Hunter

Unlike Wilson and Lewis, Hunter got bit by the homer bug. Balls flew out of the yard nearly 15% above his career norm. That said, Hunter was aided by a very low BABIP and a ridiculously high and unsustainable strand rate (80%), especially high for a guy with a sub-5 K/9.. So while he might keep the ball in the yard at a better rate, there ought to be more guys on base, and a lot more of them coming around to score..

2010 Actuals: 3.73 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

2010 Adjusted: 4.78 ERA, 1.30 WHIP

Derek Holland

I know this guy is going to be legit in the near future so I don't want to bash him here. But the numbers say that his 4.08 ERA was aided largely by all of the factors I have already mentioned. He won't be a legit starter until he can dial down the walks..

2010 Actuals: 4.08 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

2010 Adjusted: 5.09 ERA, 1.46 WHIP

Dave Bush (Because we don't have 2010 info on Webb and can assume he makes about 10 starts)

The underlying numbers say Dave Bush is pretty much the 4.50-5.00 ERA guy that his actuals suggest. His K/9 is trending downward while his K/BB is trending upward (::fart noise::) The dude is a perennial HR-factory in the NL; He's really going to enjoy Arlington..

2010 Actuals: 4.54 ERA, 1.51 WHIP

2010 Adjusted: 5.13 ERA, 1.47 WHIP


There isn't really a way to sugar coat this. These guys flat-out stink. From top to bottom this rotation was aided by much lower BABIP and HR/FB rates, and much higher strand rates than they can hope to sustain. While the high-octane Ranger offense is as good as advertised, they better be at their best if they expect to repeat as American League, or even AL West champs as this rotation can expect to give up many more runs than in 2010.


I look forward to your cheers and jeers..

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