Texas Rangers: More Buck For Their Bang
In spring training manager Ron Washington admitted to using cocaine. Their catching tandem is Matt Treanor-Max Ramirez, instead of the planned Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Taylor Teagarden. Chris Davis is gone, and forgotten? Their elite closer (Neftali Feliz) was auditioned as a starter back in Surprise, Arizona.
And, weirdest of all, for the first time in a long time the Rangers aren't as reliant upon the long ball.
Some things are mysterious about the team's best 75-game start ever (46-29), but their offensive improvement is crystal clear: Fewer home runs. More runs.
As the Rangers begin a three-game series against the Anaheim Angels tonight in California - biggest series of the season, by far, so far - they'll do it with a lineup that, compared to 2009, strikes out less, walks more and hits better with runners in scoring position.
Simply put, the Rangers have hit 35 fewer homers than at this point last season, but they've also scored 40 more runs.
The credit goes to ...
Clint Hurdle - His "productive at-bat" philosophy has finally sunk in. Under Rudy Jaramillo the Rangers set off more fireworks, but under Hurdle moving a runner along or making a pitcher throw at least eight pitches is considered success.
Vladimir Guerrero - He hits homers, yes. But he also hits any pitch to any part of the park. And his child-like enthusiasm is infectious.
Josh Hamilton - Addition by subtraction came when he dumped the toe-tap timing mechanism from his swing June 1. Since then he's had the hottest month of any Ranger ever and Texas is 20-5.