Watching this last series between the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, I couldn’t help but come away unimpressed by the mighty Rangers offense. We all know the Mariner’s offense is bad, possibly historically bad. So how is it that the Mariner’s were able to match the Rangers hit for hit and run for run for most of the series? I found it particularly odd that the Mariner’s threw their weakest 3 starters out there, while the Rangers countered with some of their best, and still the Mariners were able to keep pace.
Yes, I know all about how badly the small sample of a couple games renders all of that meaningless when evaluating the team’s offense. I’m just saying that those were my impressions, and it led me to dig a little deeper into the stats and it’s amazing what I found.
First, a review of an offensive metric: wRC+ is a stat that measures runs created. The + means that it’s normalized so that 100 is league average. If a player has a 120 wRC+, than they are 20% better than average at helping generate runs. A player with a 80 wRC+ is 20% below average. Make sense? good.
As a team, the Rangers have a wRC+ of 113. That’s pretty good. It’s excellent in fact. Only the Yankees and Red Sox are better. If you think that’s the conclusion here, than you must have missed the title of this post. The problem is that Rangers play half their games in the “Ballpark in Arlington.” Not only does it have dimensions that are more suitable for a little league team than for professionals, but it also has a steady wind blowing out toward center most nights.
The Rangers also play half of their games away from Arlington, which means we have plenty of data for which to evaluate their hitters when they don’t have the advantage of that stadium. As a team, the Rangers have a wRC+ of only 93. Meaning that, when you get them away from their tiny field that turns most pop-ups into home runs, and Rangers as a whole are 7% below average. That’s not average, and certainly not good. It’s below average. Let that sink in for just a second.
The Rangers have a home wRC+ of 132. A difference of 39. This difference is the worst difference of all the major league teams. For all the bad reputation that Coors Field in Colorado has, the Rockies difference is 34. That’s also huge, but there’s still a significant increase in stats simply for playing in Texas even beyond that of playing in Colorado.
Looking at individual players, the stats are equally telling. Here is the Ranger’s home/away splits for all players with at least 100 plate appearances:Name
Clearly the effect that the Ballpark in Arlington has on hitters is pretty extreme. I decided to look back a few years, and the stats point to exactly the same conclusion. Combined over the past 5 seasons, the Rangers have a home wRC+ of 114, and a road wRC+ of just 91.
I think it’s time that everyone takes notice just how ordinary the Ranger’s lineup is.