Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Texas Rangers - Salute

The worst "soon" image ever

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was cowering in the left field access tunnel on Opening Day trying to fight off the side effects of eating a Boomstick and the betrayal of Dale Hansen walking off with my victory t-shirt. And yet, this 2012 baseball season is already nearly a third of the way complete. After this series with the Mariners, the next time the Rangers play, it will be June. June is unofficially/officially when you stop saying things like "on the young season" or "to start a season" or "it's still pretty cool outside".

Basically, it's summer now. The baseball season is no longer new. The novelty is over. But for the Texas Rangers, that doesn't mean the thrill is gone. Only once have the Rangers had a better record through 48 games in their now 40 year history. That was in 1998. Those Rangers were 31-17. That team then lost four straight, had a dismal June, an even worse July, before rallying in the final third of the season to make the postseason.

The 1999 Texas Rangers, the prior-to-last-season claimant to the title of Best Rangers Team Ever, had a 28-20 record at this point in the season. That team had a solid June, a great July, a fantastic season, and were swept out of the postseason by the New York Yankees. The 2011 Texas Rangers, the new gold standard, were 25-23 after 48 games last season. Game 48 came after the Rangers scored four total runs in a series against Philadelphia. In that game, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz both homered in their long awaited return from the disabled list. In many ways, with the offense finally intact again, that felt like the beginning of the season.

Last season the Rangers had a combined May/June record of 27-28. It wasn't pretty. This season, even with this "slump" the Rangers have been in, the Rangers still have been over .500 for the month. One main difference with this team compared to the Rangers of other defining seasons is just how dominant they have been when you take a look at the numbers. As was noted by Sam Miller, the Rangers have the best pythagorean record at this point in a season since the 1939 New York Yankees. If the Rangers were playing to their pythag, they'd currently have a record of 33-15. That's nearing 2001 Seattle Mariners territory.

The Rangers lead baseball in runs, hits, home runs, total bases, average, OBP, SLG, and therefore OPS. The Rangers are best in baseball in team WAR and wOBA. Pitching? The Rangers have the lowest ERA in the American League. The staff's batting average against is best in the AL. The Rangers' bullpen is the best in baseball by nearly any metric. Defense? The Rangers are best in baseball in fielding RAR and UZR. It's a statistic orgy of awesomeness. Just about the only metric that hasn't been favorable for the Rangers this season has been baserunning and the Rangers have been one of the best baserunning teams in the game of the last several years. I expect that to improve. At just under a third of a season, the Rangers are doing nearly everything better than any other team in baseball.

In summary: I don't know what any of this has to do with the Mariners. The Rangers play them often. They're sort of boring. Enjoy your grilled meats and adult beverages today. The Texas Rangers are very good.

Monday, May 28 7:05: RHP Kevin Millwood vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Tuesday, May 29 7:05: LHP Jason Vargas vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Wednesday, May 30 7:05: RHP Blake Beavan vs. LHP Derek Holland

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the Rain City Mariners:

  • Matt Harrison: 5-3, 5.86 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, .326 BABIP, 69.8% LOB, 3.92 FIP, 3.92 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
  • Kevin Millwood: 3-4, 5.98 K/9, 3.40 BB/9, .287 BABIP, 67.0% LOB, 3.32 FIP, 4.13 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three starts: 1 run allowed in 22.0 innings

Advantage: Kevin Millwood being reborn in Greg Maddux's image over Matt Harrison and Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes.

  • Scott Feldman: 0-2, 3.72 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, .250 BABIP, 62.0% LOB, 4.91 FIP, 5.30 xFIP, 0.1 WAR - Last three appearances: 5 runs allowed in 10.0 innings
  • Jason Vargas: 5-4, 6.03 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, .226 BABIP, 76.2% LOB, 4.00 FIP, 4.12 xFIP, 0.8 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 20.0 innings

Advantage: Jason Vargas humming along doing his Safeco-assisted thing every year over Scott Feldman being fairly terrible even while being sort of lucky. We'll say Feldman hasn't gotten used to a consistent role yet. Yeah.

  • Derek Holland: 4-3, 8.25 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .262 BABIP, 64.8% LOB, 3.68 FIP, 3.82 xFIP, 1.2 WAR - Last three appearances: 7 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
  • Blake Beavan: 2-4, 4.74 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, .279 BABIP, 77.9% LOB, 4.96 FIP, 4.95 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 16.0 innings

Advantage: Derek Holland being the reverse Samson over Blake Beavan being a throw-in in the Mark Lowe trade.

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Seattle Mariners (21-29, 4th Place AL West)

Rangers Record vs. Seattle: 4-3 (3-1 at Ballpark in Arlington)

Seattle's Recent Results: 0-3 swept by the Anaheim Angels of Anaheim

Seattle's Road Record: 12-16

Ballpark In Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 119/114 - wOBA: 103/107

SB Nation Mariners Blog: Lookout Landing

Match-up: (as of 05/27) Rangers Mariners Advantage
Batting (RAR) 48.5 (2nd) -29.1 (26th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) -0.7 (19th) 0.8 (13th) Mariners
Starters (RAR) 21.9 17.3 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 26.9 (1st) 0.2 (27th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 21.1 (1st) 16.3 (3rd) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 117.7 5.5 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10: How much do you miss Blake Beavan?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Elvis. I always like watching Elvis play.)
  • Over/Under: 3.5 runs allowed by Kevin Millwood in today's game?
  • Who has more hits in this series: Justin Smoak or Mitch Moreland?
  • Why is Ichiro good against the Rangers again?
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