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Sandler: Rangers Keep Rolling On The Road

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The Leadoff

Jurickson Profar, who is incredibly bright and charismatic and fun to talk to, shared a great conversation with Ben Rogers and Kevin Hageland earlier this week on 1053 The Fan. Check it out.

I hope you also enjoy this conversation I shared with Adam Lewkowicz, who is the Rangers' Director of Advanced Scouting and Game Strategy.

Stats of the Week

*Opposing hitters are batting just .120 (3-for-25) on Sam Dyson's changeup.

*Colby Lewis has 11 quality starts, most in the American League. Unreal.

*Ian Desmond's "clutch" rating on FanGraphs is 1.86, best in MLB. I'm not positive what all goes into that number, but it absolutely seems like Desmond is constantly delivering go-ahead or game-tying hits, especially late. It is worth noting that Prince Fielder's clutch rating (1.27) is 4th best in MLB.

*Cole Hamels allowed just 2 HR vs. LHB last year. He's already allowed 3 HR vs. LHB this year, all Seattle Mariners (Cano, Seager, Martin)/.

*Cole Hamels became the 77th pitcher in MLB history to reach the 2000 strikeout club.

Quote of the Week

"He's always trying to hit home runs and he can't...but he tries, though." -Jurickson Profar on the Ben & Skin Show when citing why Elvis is one of his funniest teammates.

"I think I've had a couple of opportunities before but I've blown them...on National that was fun." -Diekman on his first career save, which closed out the 5-3 win for the Rangers over the Astros on Thursday.

Covering the Bases

*I'm not too concerned about Yu Darvish's injury because troad bumps and inconsistencies are normal for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery. But, with that said, it seems appropriate to remind people of just that: not everything is going to be peaches for Darvish throughout this season, which is further reason why trying to add another quality starter should be of high priority.

*As I've said before, I'm not worried about Mitch Moreland. He's a streaky hitter and has always seemingly been that way. I do, however, remain concerned about Prince Fielder, though his last week has certainly been encouraging.

*The top-end of the Rangers' bullpen has been really strong with Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, and Matt Bush combining for a sub-2.00 ERA. Tony Barnette has been solid, but by no means dominant with a WHIP near 1.50. After that, I'm not sure Banny trusts anyone else. If the Rangers hope to keep their arms strong throughout a season and into the playoffs, they desperately need to make upgrades to the bullpen. Keone Kela's return will help and so might the continued growth of Jose LeClerc, but it appears that the Rangers will be in play for external upgrades, too.

*Colby Lewis has been outstanding for the Rangers this year. Has he been the team's best pitcher? While I don't think anyone will suggest he is the team's best pitcher, results-wise, I'm not sure it is much of a question. Either way, Lewis is better this year than last year and is, oddly for someone his age (36), healthier this year than last year. A lot of what he does is tough to quantify, but one thing is that he's averaged more innings/start (6.46) than anyone else on staff. He also leads the AL with 11 quality starts which, though a polarizing stat, is indicative of his ability to give his team a chance to win basically every time he's taken the hill. As a matter of fact, the Rangers have won both of his "non-quality starts" this season.

*My defensive assessment of Jurickson Profar so far is that he looks like a really good defensive 2B. As far as the left-side, I'm not sure he's much more than slightly above-average at this point. He's 23, though, and after missing two years, certainly is a candidate to improve defensively.

*The Rangers released Ike Davis from his minor league contract to pursue other opportunities. Davis was brought in before Spring Training as a depth option but dealt with a knee injury in March that limited his time on the field.

*Rangers released 2011 first round pick, Zach Cone. He was the last remaining player from the top ten rounds of that draft drafted by the Rangers and still in the organization. Worth noting that the Rangers selected Andrew Faulker (14th), Ryan Rua (17th), and Nick Martinez (18th) in that draft.

*In case you were wondering, here's the Rangers' draft booty from the 2016 First-Year Player Draft

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 5.53.28 PM

The Walkoff

Many people tossed around the idea of the Rangers pursuing Doug Fister this off-season. Whenever his name was brought up on Twitter, a faction of fans went berserk citing statistics and trends that suggested he'd never be an effective pitcher again.

Same thing happened when the Rangers signed Ian Desmond. I was shocked at how many people rejected the cheap $8 million acquisition because of how sure they were that Desmond's downward trends meant he'd never be an effective hitter again.

We are into June and I could make a strong argument that Doug Fister has been Houston's ace and an even stronger argument that Ian Desmond has been Texas's MVP.

I love numbers and am 110% invested in the growth of advanced stats and analytics in decision-making and conversation. However,  I find pleasure in Fister and Desmond's seasons because of the hypocrisy demonstrated by the group within the stats-centric community who unequivocally rejected the idea that there are other intangible factors that cause successes and struggles.

While I loved the Rangers' acquisition of Desmond, I never quite convinced myself that signing Fister was a prudent decision because of troubling trends. With that said, I was absolutely open to the possibility that other factors would come together and a player like Fister might defy those trends, just as both he and Desmond have done.

I'm obviously not saying to ignore stats, but it's frustrating when people allow the past to, in their mind, give an absolute forecast of the future. Instead of, "Based on his trends, there's no way he bounces back..." it should be, "Based on his trends, it's unlikely he bounces back."

Few will advocate for the importance and significance of stats more than I, but hopefully this is a lesson to all of us that stats can paint a pretty picture, but stats alone cannot create a masterpiece.

Until tomorrow, Peace Be the Journey

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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