Texas Rangers' Backups Exceeding Expectations

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Texas Rangers' Backups Exceeding Expectations
Jim Cowsert

The Texas Rangers won’t have Jurickson Profar or Geovany Soto back until at least mid-June, and Matt Harrison and Derek Holland haven’t been available to take the mound.

Shin-Soo Choo did not play the last two games of the series against the Oakland Athletics, and slugger Adrian Beltre hasn’t played since April 9. The injury bug that swept through the club in spring training has continued to tally casualties for the first 22 games of the season.

Despite all of the injuries, the Rangers find themselves atop of the AL West with a 14-8 record after completing a sweep of the A’s on April 23.

Texas has won 10 of its last 13 games, six of them by just one run. The pitching staff tossed five shutouts during that span, including Martin Perez’s first and second career complete-game shutouts. With the exception of a 16-2 thrashing by the Chicago White Sox, this team has been one of the best in baseball.

It is who has contributed to those wins that makes the hot streak impressive.

When Beltre was placed on the 15-day disabled list, Kevin Kouzmanoff replaced him. Kouzmanoff hadn’t played in a Major League Baseball game since 2011, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. He became a main source of run production in Beltre’s absence.

In 13 games, the 32-year-old has hit two home runs, driven in 10 runs and scored eight times. Kouzmanoff seems to have benefited from hitting behind Prince Fielder in the 5-slot, posting a slash line of .362/.412/.617 in 47 at-bats.

Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy have also been big contributors to the Rangers while Profar recovers from shoulder surgery. Although Wilson has been more of a factor at the plate, both guys have played exceptional defense and provided runs at key times. Here are their individual numbers:

Josh Wilson, Donnie Murphy Individual Batting Stats
BA OBP XBH R RBI w/RISP
J. Wilson .325 .357 2 5 6 .625
D. Murphy .240 .310 4 4 7 .286

MLB.com

Robinson Chirinos has really stepped up as the backstop for the club, seizing the opportunity in Soto's absence and earning more playing time than the struggling J.P. Arencibia.

Although hitting just .205, Chirinos has hit two homers and driven in six runs and has thrown out four of the six baserunners attempting to steal. Arencibia is just 2-for-30 at the plate and threw out one base stealer in five attempts.

As for pitching, Robbie Ross’ production in the rotation may have earned him a permanent spot. After not starting since 2011 with Double-A Frisco, the 24-year-old has allowed just six earned runs in 23.1 innings. The only things that have affected Ross are walks and pitch count, as you can see in his game-by-game stats in the chart below.

Robbie Ross' Game-By-Game Stats
IP H R ER BB SO PC
April 2 5.0 7 3 2 2 7 96
April 9 5.1 2 1 0 6 4 98
April 15 7.2 5 0 0 0 2 90
April 20 5.1 7 7 4 0 8 86

MLB.com

After a slow start, the Rangers seem to be finding a groove, especially at the plate. In all of baseball, Texas has the second-best batting average (.274) and third-best on-base percentage (.346). The Rangers have scored 91 runs, which is seventh-best total in baseball.

And as good as they have been without Beltre, he will make his return on April 25. Choo is expected back by the end of the month, and Kouzmanoff is taking a short break due to tightness in his back. Expect him to take over at designated hitter when Beltre moves back to third.

The team will also be adding a third lefty to the rotation when Harrison makes his first start in more than a year on April 27. He discusses his return in the video above.

Things are clicking for the Rangers right now and can still show improvement with the return of their stars. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of months when the DL becomes less crowded.

 

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com.

You can follow Trey on Twitter @treydwarren.

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