2014 Texas Rangers Mid-Season Grades -- Position Players.
I don't really want to grade the performance of the Texas Rangers position players at the break. I don't really want to think about, or talk about, the 2014 Texas Rangers and what happened prior to the break, really. I'd prefer to think about and talk about Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara and Andrew Faulkner and other guys in the minors, and talk about 2015, etc.
But what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't do this exercise? So here we go...grades for the Rangers' position players, pre-ASB:
Robinson Chirinos -- GRADE: B+. Chirinos came into spring training as the third catcher who would be stashed at AAA in case of injury. He has established himself, instead, as the team's primary catcher in the absence of Geovany Soto. The .271 OBP is problematic, but his defense has been very good and he's hit for some power. He's been a bright spot this season.
Prince Fielder -- GRADE: F. The Rangers traded Ian Kinsler, and assumed seven years of Prince Fielder at $138 million, because they felt Fielder's 2013 season was an aberration, and he would be an impact presence in the middle of the Rangers' lineup. Instead, Fielder hit .247/.360/.360 before having season-ending neck surgery that has cast a cloud over his future. Even ignoring the fact that Kinsler has been one of the best players in the A.L. in the first half of the season, this has been a disaster.
Rougned Odor -- GRADE: B. Jurickson Profar was supposed to be the starting 2B this season. When he started the season on the disabled list, Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy started the season sharing the 2B job. Odor was brought up in mid-May as Option D. He's not been very good -- .260/.296/.391, 2 for 6 stealing bases, some defensive mistakes -- but considering he's the youngest player in the league and is supposed to be in AA, the fact that he hasn't drowned is huge.
Elvis Andrus -- GRADE: D. Elvis has been okay this season. He's on pace to be about a 2 win shortstop, which is around average for a position player. Of course, the Rangers didn't make him a cornerstone of this team for him to be an average player. Evan Grant tweeted that this season is something of a crossroads for Elvis, and he's playing on a bad team for the first time in his career, while also having to assume more of a leadership role. The consensus seems to be this experience will make him better in the long run, but in the short run, he needs to be better than he's been so far this season.
Adrian Beltre -- GRADE: A. 35 years old, and while he's slowed a little with the glove, he's still hitting as well as ever. His season reminds me of Emmitt Smith's infamous comment about his last year in Dallas.
Shin-Soo Choo -- GRADE: D. The Rangers signed Choo to be an offensive force at the top of the lineup. With a .242/.362/.376 slash line, he's getting on base, but he's doing nothing else besides that, and is also playing poor defense. He's been playing through an ankle injury most of the year, and I have to hope the offensive shortcomings are a result of that ankle problem, because if not, that contract is going to look extremely ugly going forward.
Leonys Martin -- GRADE: B. I think the issue with Leonys is one of expectations. If you expected Leonys's bat to develop to the point that he was an All Star caliber center fielder, a Jacoby Ellsbury type, you're going to be disappointed. But if you're willing to accept him as an average to above-average center fielder who brings value with his glove, his baserunning and his ability to do some damage against righthanded pitchers, someone who will make mental mistakes and will struggle against lefties but still has value overall, I think you have to be satisfied with him.
Alex Rios -- GRADE: B. Productive slash line, too many GIDPs and CSs, questionable defense, whispers about lack of effort...Rios has not been the problem with this team, but a lot of people also don't see him as someone who is part of the solution going forward. I'm becoming more and more doubtful that he'll be back next year, even if he can't be traded for a significant return.
Mitch Moreland -- GRADE: F. Asked to split the DH role with Michael Choice, Moreland struggled with an ankle injury that ultimately ended his season, and didn't hit before going on the d.l. He seems like a likely non-tender candidate after the season, though if the Rangers opt to dump Rios and aren't planning on spending much this offseason, they could bring him back and roll him out there again as the DH/1B guy with Prince Fielder, I guess.
Michael Choice -- GRADE: F. Arguably the worst position player in baseball this year, he had a .177/.247/.318 line before being sent down, and his defense was possibly worse than his offense. There are a lot of people who think the talent is there, and he'll end up a productive major leaguer going forward. I sure hope they are right.
Donnie Murphy -- GRADE: C-. He hit .196/.268/.330, played various positions because others were hurt, and was designated for assignment twice. You could give him a lower grade, I guess, but I'm not sure what more you were expecting from him, given that he was a waiver claim from the Cubs.
Chris Gimenez -- GRADE: A-. Much like Chirinos, Gimenez has been a pleasant surprise. He was claimed on waivers, DFA'd, and was intended to be minor league depth, but when pressed into duty because of someone else's failures, he has put up a .261/.309/.375 line while being acceptable defensively. The Rangers could go with a Chirinos/Gimenez catching tandem next season, and while that's not ideal, if that's your worst position on the field, you can win with that setup.
Luis Sardinas -- GRADE: B. Much like Odor, Sardinas was pressed into duty before he was really major league ready. He put up a .288/.329/.318 line as one of the youngest players in the league. He's now back in AAA, where he belongs, but like Odor, simply not drowning in the majors at his age is a job well done.
Josh Wilson -- GRADE: C-. He didn't hit, and wasn't all that great with the glove. But then, he's Josh Wilson, and like Donnie Murphy, I'm not sure what else you would have expected.
Dan Robertson -- GRADE: C-. You can lump him in with Sardinas and Odor, or with Murphy and Wilson, depending on your point of view. Either way, he's a minor leaguer being asked to play in the majors. He tries hard, but isn't a major league player.
J.P. Arencibia -- GRADE: F. Let's not talk about this.
Carlos Pena -- GRADE: F. Let's not talk about this, either. Pena actually has an OPS almost as low as Arencibia (428 v. 415).
Kevin Kouzmanoff -- GRADE: A, or INC. -- Kevin Kouzmanoff gave the Rangers a 1029 OPS in 51 plate appearances, had a back issue which was supposed to keep him out for a couple of games, and then went on the d.l. with what is likely season ending back surgery. A very Rangers 2014 story.
Brad Snyder -- GRADE: D. Snyder actually probably encapsulates the 2014 Rangers better than Kouzmanoff does. Snyder was given a couple of days to learn the position of first base in the minors, then was called up as Plan L or Plan M at first base in the majors. After making a bad throw home on a play that cost the Rangers a run, he basically lost his job, and was DFA'd. Lots of Rangers fans railed about Snyder's bad throw, but you don't blame a hammer for not being a screwdriver, and you don't blame an outfielder for not being a competent defensive first baseman.
Jake Smolinski -- GRADE: A. He's a gritty white guy who has made some diving catches, so he's being compared to Rusty Greer. A former 2nd round pick in 2007 of the Washington Nationals, he's turned into this year's Jim Adduci, the minor league lifer who has earned some playing time and might be carving out a role as a potential bench player going forward.
Adam Rosales -- GRADE: ?. I can't remember anything Adam Rosales has done this year. He has 19 plate appearances and appeared in 6 games, though.
Jim Adduci -- GRADE: INC. He got 13 plate appearances before breaking his pinky finger. He then hurt his pinky finger again while on a rehab assignment. He will probably be the Rangers' everyday first baseman when he returns, or will split time there with Chris Gimenez. And that may very well be the phrase that best encapsulates the Rangers' 2014 season.
Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar -- GRADE: INC. They haven't played this year. Profar probably won't. Soto comes back Friday. Alas.
So there you go. Tomorrow, we'll do the pitchers. That will be even more unpleasant, I fear.