Kinda like our beloved Texas Rangers. A month ago, the Rangers were on the tail end of a hot streak, salvaging a horrendous start to a baseball season that found them a .333 (9-18) before going 13-4 through May 17 to return to .500 baseball for the first time since April 11. Since then, they've been rolling the boulder up the mountain. . .and watching it roll back again. . .over and over and over again. How many times has the boulder gone up the mountain? The Rangers have been at .500 thirteen times since then, going only one game above the even mark two times--May 31 and June 11--before the boulder rolls right back down.
What's holding them back? Why can't they break through this barrier of .500 baseball and make a sustained effort into the win column?
I'll give you a hint: it ain't the hitting.
Offensively, the Texas Rangers are the best team in the American League--and in many cases, all of professional baseball-- in several categories. Bring out the gimp with the stats, please:
- The Rangers lead the AL in team batting average at .280 and are second among all MLB teams, only to the Cubs. . .
- lead all major league baseball in number of at-bats. . .
- lead both league in number of runs scored, 424 (the Cubs, at 411, lead the NL) . . .
- lead both leagues in number of hits, 757 (ahead of the Cubs, best in the NL, at 745; and Red Sox, second in the AL with 734). . .
- lead all baseball in number of doubles, and are second in the AL number of home runs. . .
- lead both leagues in number of RBI's with 406 (second are the NL cubs, with 389; the Red Sox are second in the AL, ten percentage point behind with 366!). . .
- have hit into double plays the second-fewest times in the AL (behind only Baltimore). . .
- are second in AL On Base Percentage behind only the Red Sox (.350 vs. .355). . .
- lead the MLB in slugging percentage (.456; the NL-leading Marlins and AL Red Sox are tied for second at .450). . .
- and lead the majors in the all-important OPS percentage, at .807 (a shade above the Red Sox and Cubs, tied at .805 ).
Given the above, you'd think the Rangers would be leading their league, up there in the ol' Cat Bird Seat breathing the rarified air with the Red Sox and Cubbies. Hell, we should be talkin' pennant race!
Hold onto your pin-striped seat.
Lets look at the, um, pitching:
- The Rangers have the highest Earned Run Average in the AL, 4.97 (the Pirates stink up the NL at 5.02). . .
- they've given up the second-highest number of hits in the majors, 761 (behind only the Twins with 768). . .
- allowed the most runs in both leagues, 435 (far out-distancing the NL leaders, Pirates, with 406). . .
- allowed the most Earned Runs in the AL, with 378 (ahead of only one NL team, those putrid Pirates). . .
- walked more batters than any other team in MLB (315). . .
- are 27th of 30 MLB teams in number of strikeouts pitched. . .
- are tied for first in the MLB with those Pirates for most hits and walks allowed per inning, with 1.57 (worse even than the Mariners' 1.50 ratio). . .
- and are second in the AL behind the Twins for highest batting average allowed with .282.
I'm sure there are more telling statistics, but you get the picture. The pitching is holding these guys down. I'm sure hoping against hope that Sidney Ponson, off to a great start with the Rangers before being released for fighting among his teammates, is an utter failure with his new club, the New York Yankees. If Ponson shines and the Rangers continue to stay barely even due to the pitching, I'll guarantee you that all the good chemistry in the clubhouse won't make this a winning team. Not with Wright. Not with Benoit. And not with a shaky C. J. Wilson.