First Half Grades -- Position Players


Grading the Rangers position players on their first half performance

Yesterday, we graded the pitchers. Today, we grade the position players. Again, this is based on expectations as well as performance.

A.J. Pierzynski -- 278 PAs, .284/.317/.448. GRADE: B

A.J. Pierzsynski has a career slash line of .284/.324/.429. His slash line this season is .284/.317/.448. He's basically the same guy he's always been, which, as a 36 year old catcher, is pretty remarkable. If you want to look for something to be concerned about, he's struck out 40 times in 278 PAs, which is well above his career average, but it doesn't seem to be an issue right now. He's defense isn't anything to write home about, but he has a good reputation for game-calling. I think the Rangers are getting what they thought they'd get from him when they signed him to a one year deal this offseason.

Mitch Moreland -- 298 PAs, .266/.319/.487. GRADE: B

Mitch Moreland has had a very Mitch Moreland season...some slumps, some hot streaks, and some time spent on the disabled list. The OBP isn't great, but he's 3 doubles away from matching his career high in doubles, and 3 homers away from matching his career high in homers. In a lot of ways, his season has been a lot like Pierzynski's...about what the Rangers probably thought they were going to get from him this year. He's been fine.

Ian Kinsler -- 307 PAs, .281/.359/.433. GRADE: B

Another guy who, like Pierzynski and Moreland, has had some ups and downs this year and has spent some time on the disabled list, but at the end of the day, has performed about like I think you'd expect him to perform. The weird thing on his line is that he's just 5 for 11 in steals -- historically, he's been a terrific percentage basestealer and a great baserunner, and it may be he's lost a step and hasn't realized it yet. He's second on the team among position players in bWAR and is tied for third in fWAR. And his absence from the lineup while he was on the disabled list may have helped some people realize he's not as easily replaced as some have assumed.

Elvis Andrus -- 412 PAs, .242/.300/.280. GRADE: D

I don't want to talk about Elvis. It will just make me sad.

Adrian Beltre -- 399 PAs, .316/.358/.543. GRADE: A

Adrian Beltre was signed to a 5 year, $80M contract by the Rangers prior to the 2011 season, with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16M. At $80M, assuming a value per win at $5M, the Rangers need 16 WAR from Beltre over the five years to break even on his deal. Beltre currently has 15 fWAR as a Ranger, and 16.3 bWAR. Beltre could fall off a cliff now, and the Rangers would have already basically gotten their money's worth out of him. His defense isn't quite as sharp as it has been in years past, but otherwise, he's the Beltre we've come to know and love -- he's hitting over .300, he's not walking much, and he's hitting for power, while gimping around the bases like he thinks his hamstrings are about to explode.

David Murphy -- 338 PAs, .219/.278/.373. GRADE: D

Like Elvis, David Murphy is saved from an "F" grade by the fact that his defense has him above replacement level in both bWAR and fWAR (albeit just barely in fWAR). After having success in a small sample size against lefthanders last season, Murphy started his contract year as the every day left fielder, but hasn't hit against lefties (545 OPS) or righties (699 OPS) so far. His K rate, walk rate and ISO are all in line with historical norms...his problem is he's got a .221 BABIP on the season, compared to a .305 BABIP for his career. I expect Murphy to have a second half more in line with what he's done for his career, and I think some of his problem in the first half has been bad luck, but regardless, this isn't how Murphy (or the Rangers) were hoping he'd perform heading into free agency.

Leonys Martin -- 253 PAs, .283/.336/.422. GRADE: A-

Leonys Martin is playing like the guy who the Rangers give $15.5M guaranteed to as an amateur free agent. He's second on the team among position players in fWAR, and third in bWAR. I've suggested that a reasonable comp for his upside is Shane Victorino, who has a career .276/.341/.428 line and averages 30 steals per 162 games...Leonys's .283/.336/.422 line this season, and his 19 for 23 on the basepaths, is right in line with that. He's faced very few lefties, so his slash line has to be discounted a tad due to that (it would be lower if he were facing them regularly), but he's given the Rangers solid offense and defense from the center field spot, and appears to have given the Rangers an answer in center for the next five years, at least.

Nelson Cruz -- 386 PAs, .277/.334/.517. GRADE: B+

People were writing Nelson Cruz off as a lost cause after his offensive performance dropped last season, but despite the Biogenesis situation hanging over his head, Cruz has been great with the bat in the first half of the season, leading the team in home runs and RBIs. The defense is...concerning, to say the least, but Cruz has been, so far, one of the bright spots offensively for the Rangers, and has positioned himself to potentially get a nice payday after the season.

Lance Berkman -- 282 PAs, .254/.355/.377. GRADE: D

The only reason I'm not giving Lance Berkman an "F" is that you knew that, with him coming back from injury, there was some risk he wouldn't perform. And after a good start to the season, Berkman hasn't performed. He's currently on the disabled list, and will not be activated on Monday when he's eligible to return. His vesting option for 2014 is now moot, and the question at this point is whether he'll ever get healthy enough to give the Rangers something as a bench bat down the stretch, or if he's simply done.

Craig Gentry -- 133 PAs, .216/.311/.310. GRADE: C+

The book on Craig Gentry has always been that he is great defensively, but he doesn't hit and he can't stay healthy. This season, he's been great defensively, but he hasn't hit and he's currently on the disabled list.

Geovany Soto -- 105 PAs, .185/.279/.348. GRADE: C-

Geovany Soto hasn't been good, but then, he's a back-up catcher you gave up Barret Loux for (after the Cubs sent Jacob Brigham back because Brigham wasn't healthy). The Rangers traded for him last year hoping a change of scenery would result in him hitting better, but it hasn't happened.

Jurickson Profar -- 155 PAs, .235/.309/.346. GRADE: C

Jurickson Profar has played about how you'd expect a 20 year old highly touted prospect who has little time above AA ball would play. He's shown ability, but he's also had issues, both at the plate and in the field. When Ian Kinsler went down, there were people who seemed to think that was a good thing, as it would mean Profar would get to play every day, and some fans and writers started throwing the name "Wally Pipp" around. Profar has shown that he can handle playing in the major leagues, but he's not ready to immediately step in at this moment and be an average to above-average regular. The future is still very bright for him, and he'll continue to get regular playing time going forward, I suspect.

Jeff Baker -- 92 PAs, .317/.391/.695. GRADE: A+

Who would have thought one of the most crippling injuries the team would suffer this season would be Jeff Baker? He's crushed lefties, and the Rangers desperately need him back. The good news is, he will apparently return on Friday.

Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness, Robinson Chirinos, Engel Beltre. GRADE: INC

All these guys have played too much, none of them have hit, and the fact the Rangers have had to use them as much as they have is one of the reasons the offense has not been very good this season.

Julio Borbon. GRADE: INC

We'll always have that one plate appearance from this season, Julio.

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