The Decline and Fall of Hank Blalock.
Rangers fans, remember the good ol’ days when the left field bleachers at the Ballpark were filled with those fun-loving, cowboy boot wearing college boys with their silly signs and brooms, yelling for an up-and-coming new third baseman? A player who hit a monster shot off Eric Gagne in the 2003 All-Star game, and who at 23 years old already had 64 home runs and two All-Star appearances?
Number Nine's time has come and gone, and with it go the beloved Hank’s Homies, as you can clearly see with this article. Hank Blalock has got to go. Too bad he no longer has any trade value. Hank made 4.8 Mil last year to play in 58 games. So far this season, the Rangers have played 115 games and Hank has seen action in only 31 of them. He’s hit 30 home runs in the last three years combined.
Many people think that it was the All-Star game HR that sealed the deal for Hank. They say that after that game, he began to take bigger swings, and that it hurt him as an overall hitter. So let’s look at that first.
Hank batted 51 points higher in the first half than he did in the second half of 2003, and his OBP dropped almost 60 points. He was hitting a bomb about every 7.5 games prior to the AS break, but that jumped to one home run every four games afterward. Hank was batting .323 before Gagne threw that pitch, and has a career .270 average after it went over the wall.
Of course we can’t blame it all on the home run, but Rangers fans are starting to wonder how long management is going to put up with a guy who consistently hits .265, has very little pop, and is on the DL two-thirds of the season while making almost five million per year. The problem is that he doesn’t just not help the team, he hurts them.
Let’s look at how the Rangers have fared this season with and without Hank in the lineup:
Hank and the boys took the field this April and began the season with an 8-16 record. Hank gets hurt on the 25th, and the Rangers go 14-6 over the next 20 games.
By the time he returns to the lineup on July 18th, the Rangers have a record of 50-46, their best showing on that date since 2004. The Rangers go 4-6 and then he gets hurt again (just before the trade deadline, so there is no chance of getting anything for him). Since then, the Rangers have won six of their last nine. They are averaging 5.6 runs per game this season, but only 4.2 while Hank is playing.
In the meantime, his backup is hitting .321 with a .390 OBP.
I think Hank’s days are numbered in Arlington and I think it’s fitting, for just as the UTA boys graduated and gave up the brooms and the painted chests for the real world, maybe it’s time for Hank to graduate to Pittsburgh or Washington or Seattle…
Benjamin Edwards is lead writer for Studyofsports.com
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