About one month is in the books for the 2009 Texas Rangers season. Before jumping into grading each hitter for their first month performance, lets look at the team's overall rank for key stats in the American League
Current place in the Standings: 16-13, 1st in the AL West
Home Runs: 50, 1st in AL
Runs: 166, 3rd in AL
Batting Avg: .282, 4th in AL
Stolen Bases: 23, 4th in AL
On-base Pct: .334, 10th in AL
What stands out from these stats is that the Rangers are hitting well and scoring runs, but their on-base percentage is still lacking. Nevertheless, they are near the top of the league in stolen bases, which is a pleasant surprise.
1. 2B Ian Kinsler .325, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB
Grade: A+. Kinsler is a phenomenal player and is the most fun to watch on this team. He's also the team's best player now. He will make a run at the AL MVP trophy this year if he stays healthy.
2. 3B Michael Young .328, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 12 Doubles
Grade: A. Michael Young has re-found some power and is hitting as well as he ever has. It's good to see him rebound after a sub-par season by his standards.
3. OF Josh Hamilton .242, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB, 3 BB, 15 SO
Grade: B-. Josh is struggling this year so far. Hopefully he comes back strong from his injury. Only drawing three walks is unacceptable, but he only has 66 AB so far. His fielding though is still very valuable to this club. If not for the fielding, his grade would be in the C-range. I expect Josh to have a great season, but if we're grading by the first month, it's hard to give him a high mark.
4. DH Hank Blalock .245, 7 HR, 19 RBI
Grade: B. I personally would like to see Hank hit for AVG. more than HR. That being said, 7 home runs in the first month is encouraging to see. Half his hits are for extra bases. If he hits 25-30 home runs with a .270 AVG, it's a very successful season for the Hammer.
5. OF Nelson Cruz .282, 7 HR, 20 RBI
Grade: A-. Great start to the season for Nellie, as he's picking up where he left off in Oklahoma City (AAA). He struck out four times Friday in Chicago during the Rangers' 6-0 win over the White Sox, but the stats speak for themselves. He's hitting for power and his average is very solid. If he keeps this up, he will have a special season.
6. OF Marlon Byrd .323, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 10 SO, 12 Doubles
Grade: A-. Byrd had a very slow start last season. Normally a second-half of the season guy, he's hitting for average, collecting his doubles, and not striking out very often. Very valuable middle of the order presence on this team, and his fielding is solid as well.
7. OF David Murphy .200, 1 HR, 6 RBI
Grade: D. Murphy had a great rookie season last year. A double machine, he has gotten off to a slow start this year. He is showing signs of picking up the pace, with two hits Friday at the White Sox. Expect Murphy to end up with numbers like a .270 AVG, 15 HR, and 60 RBI. Anything can happen in this Rangers lineup, and when Murphy is on, he's on fire.
8. 1B Chris Davis .212, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 47 SO
Grade: C+. The power numbers are impressive. The average is not. The strikeout total is absolutely unacceptable, 47 strikeouts in 99 AB's. That speaks for itself.
9. Elvis Andrus .265, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB
Grade: A. Very pleased with his debut. The guy is 20, he deserves an A.