The Texas Rangers were not big players during the free-agency period this past offseason. As a matter of fact, you might have thought they fell victim to free agency after superstar Josh Hamilton left for the Los Angeles Angels.
However, Texas seems to have not been affected by the loss of Hamilton, as they currently sit at 36-22, first overall in their division. Texas' success has come partially thanks to the few free agents they did bring in for this year.
Here are some grades for the Rangers' free-agent acquisitions who have made an impact, so far, in 2013.
Lance Berkman (Designated Hitter): B+
The Rangers signed veteran Lance Berkman to an $11 million contract this offseason, a signing that initially appeared risky after he played only 32 games last season. That being said, Berkman has delivered for the Rangers through the first two months of this year.
Serving as the team's DH, the 37-year-old veteran is hitting .273 for the Rangers and is second on the team with a .373 on-base percentage. Berkman has managed to drive in 29 runs on the season, good for third-most on the team, and also leads the team in walks.
He may not have the power that he once had, but that hasn't seemed to hamper his overall performance. As early as 2011, Berkman hit 31 home runs with the St. Louis Cardinals, but has only four this season. Of his 50 hits on the year, 15 of them have gone for extra bases, but that's to be expected from an aging player like Berkman.
The six-time All-Star won't be making a seventh appearance in this summer's All-Star Game, but don't let that diminish his contributions. Berkman has made the loss of Hamilton look like a non-factor for the Rangers, as he has outperformed him in almost every major statistical category this year.
A.J. Pierzynski (Catcher): B-
A.J. Pierzynski came to the Rangers after hitting a career-high 27 home runs last year with the Chicago White Sox. Not a bad stat for a guy who should be seeing a decline in numbers, as the catcher is now 36 years old. Overall, Pierzynski has been another nice pickup for Texas.
The veteran catcher is hitting a solid .291 on the season, and has played in 38 of the team's 58 games. Pierzynski won't be hitting as many homers as he did last season, as he has only four this year, but his ability to still get on base is clearly there.
There are two knocks to Pierzynski's game that should be noted. He struggles to get walks, having only walked five times this season, but that isn't too surprising for a guy who has never walked even 30 times in a year.
His age has shown a bit defensively as well. Pierzynski has thrown out only two baserunners out of the 20 times opponents have attempted to steal on him, making him a liability at times at catcher.
You can't be disappointed with how Pierzynski has performed thus far. Despite his struggles behind the plate, his bat makes him worthy of being the team's starting catcher whenever he is able to play.
Jason Frasor (Relief Pitcher): B-
It's tough to get a good gauge on how good Jason Frasor has been for the Rangers this season. On one hand, he has appeared in 21 games for Texas, making him one of the team's most frequently used relief pitchers. On the other hand, he has pitched only 14.2 innings this year, pitching less than one full inning in 11 of his 21 appearances.
Frasor's ERA currently sits at 3.68, putting him in the middle of the pack of Rangers relievers in that category. Opponents are hitting a respectable .236 against him, and his 16 strikeouts are a nice number for a guy who hasn't had many innings of work.
Who has been the best free-agent acquisition for the Rangers so far?
He has been able to avoid walking batters, allowing only six walks, so far, and he has given up just six earned runs. Despite his somewhat mediocre ERA, expect that number to lower if his season continues the way it has. Frasor has allowed two runs or less in the five games in which he surrendered a run, and a few more scoreless appearances will help his average drop even lower.
Stats courtesy of ESPN's MLB Free-Agent Tracker, MLB.com and BaseballReference.com unless noted otherwise.
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