Evan Grant compares the Rangers' stats at the halfway point of 2009 to the team's stats at the halfway point of 2008.
Interesting comparison, and it drives home what a big change there has been in terms of run prevention.
I think the biggest areas of disagreement between those (like me) who thought this team would be a little above .500, and those who thought it was a sub-.500 team, was in the area of run prevention. There was a school of thought that said, it is the same pitching staff, the same defense other than an error-prone 20 year old going to shortstop and a guy with no range moving to third base to play a position he's never played before, "regression to the mean" is crap, and thus this team is going to give up 900+ runs again, maybe even 1000.
And most of the statistical models seemed to think that this team was going to be terrible in terms of run prevention, as well, which is what led to, say, PECOTA projecting the Rangers having the 2nd worst record in baseball in 2009.
I'm wrong a lot, so I'd like to pat myself on the back and say I'm right here...but the reality is, I still had the Rangers giving up somewhere in the mid- to high-800s in terms of runs allowed in 2009. A drop of 100 runs from 2008, with a pitching staff that was basically the same, seemed awfully aggressive, but looking at the expected defensive improvement and the fact that, in terms of luck (largely vis-a-vis strand rate), there should be some improvement, I thought that it was defensible and reasonable.
But the Rangers are on pace to give up 749 runs this season...an improvement much better than I think anyone expected. And part of that is due to the fluky strand rate that we've talked about with Kevin Millwood and that relates to some others...I would wager the Rangers give up more than 750 runs this year.
But still, this is real progress...and I think Evan's breakdown really helps illustrate that...