With not too much going on at the moment for the Texas Rangers I have been watching more and more World Series coverage. This is a great series because the Boston Red Sox and the St Louis Cardinals are actually two of the best teams in baseball. I personally would have rather seen the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the Red Sox, but the Cardinals still make for some good games. After being blown out of the water 8-1 on Wednesday, St Louis won last night’s game to even the series up at one game apiece. As a correspondent for the Texas Rangers I can’t help but wonder how Texas would have done in this World Series. I began to wonder what the Red Sox had this year that Texas didn’t that got them so far into playoffs. Here are a few leads I had with respect to the differences between the Red Sox and Rangers clubs.
The role of the DH is where I see the biggest difference in terms of skill between the Red Sox and the Rangers. The Rangers cycled through many DH’s throughout the year, none of whom were bad players. Lance Berkman was a decent DH for the first part of the season, but then injuries started to weigh him down. Jurickson Profar had a few big hits in clutch situations for the club and even Craig Gentry came up with a few long balls while batting in that DH position. However, regardless of whom Texas penciled in for the DH spot the Red Sox would still have the upper hand with their Dominican sensation David Ortiz. Big Papi is second in the all-time home runs list for Designated Hitters (431), only 7 behind Jason Giambi; he is third in all-time RBI’s (1429) and 7th all time in hits (2023). Those are some numbers that the Rangers can’t compete with at this moment. However, looking to find a player with qualities similar to those of Ortiz is definitely an option this off-season for Texas.
Both the Rangers and the Red Sox had defensive statistics right in the middle of the pack during the 2013 season. The Rangers finished the year 18th in the league in errors committed with 86 while the Red Sox finished 23rd with 80. While those numbers are pretty close, the Red Sox had three players nominated for a Gold Glove Award (Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Shane Victorino) while Texas only had one (Adrian Beltre).
Total Bases and Runs Scored
The only way to score runs is to get players on base. The Red Sox figured out how to get their men on base during the 2013 season. Boston finished 1st in the MLB in total bases with 2521. Texas finished 7th with 2301, still not a bad showing. However, that is a 221 bases difference that created many more opportunities for the Red Sox to score runs. They capitalized on these opportunities as Boston also led the league in runs scored with 853 (Texas was 8th with 730).
Bases on Balls
One way that the Red Sox were able to get so many men on base was by the number of pitches they took. During the 2013 season they took 581 BB’s compared to Texas’s 462. Getting walked, in my opinion, is possibly the best way to get on base. The batter does not have to expend any effort; he just has to wait for the pitcher to mess up four times.
The Rangers had 2 beards out of their starting 9 players (Andrus and Berkman). I am not counting Beltre’s and Pierzynski’s manicured goatees. The Red Sox, on the other hand, had 8 beards in their starting 9 (part-time third basemen Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts never quite caught on). As Muhammad Ali once said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a beard”.
Through this comparison I did stumble across many statistics that give Rangers fans their pride back. For instance, Texas finished 2nd in the MLB in stolen bases with 149 while Boston was 4th with 123; Texas finished 4th in the league in pitching strikeouts with 1309 while Boston finished 7th with 1294; Texas also blew Boston out of the water in saves as they finished 7th with 46 saves while Boston was 28th with only 33. Finally, probably the most important statistic is that Texas finished 5th in the MLB in game attendance with 3,178,273 fans over the course of the year while Boston finished 9th with only 2,833,333 fans.
Texas put up decently comparable numbers to Boston’s this year. However, what really set the two teams apart was Boston’s ability to get runners on base and then knock them home. Getting back to the fundamentals of simply not swinging at balls out of the strike zone and hitting home the runners in scoring position are definitely going to be on Texas’s agenda this off-season. Watching the Red Sox in the World Series will hopefully give the Rangers’ management clues as to how to improve the team for the 2013-2014 season.