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Ranger things: A strange season of analytics

Ranger Things


There’s no mystery that baseball is all about numbers. Those metrics usually can support or predict a team’s success. But when looking at the Texas Rangers’ rise to the best record in the American League, some analytics contradict the team’s 95-67 record. There are some other numbers that reflect the Rangers’ winning ways. We examine the most fascinating numbers from both worlds.

Chapter One:
The pythagorean record


The Rangers’ record using the formula of Pythagorean Win-Loss (the expected win-loss record based on the number of runs scored and allowed by a team. See more on this metric here). That’s a difference of 13 games, which, according to Baseball Reference, makes them the luckiest team. At 82-80, they would be ranked 14th in the MLB and eighth in the AL. So, is this a predictor of a poor post-season or simply an anomoly? This number is tied heavily to …

Chapter Two:
The run differential

Run differential

The Rangers are eighth in the AL in run differential at plus-8 and 14th overall (the difference in runs scored vs. allowed). By comparison, the Cubs lead baseball with a plus-248. The Red Sox lead the AL with plus-184. So, the Rangers’ success despite a mediocre run differential suggests that something supernatural, or the aforementioned luck, has been major factor, which may explain …

Chapter Three:
The clutch factor

One run games

Are the Rangers lucky or good? When looking at their one run games they blow away everyone in baseball with a 36-11 record. This means they truly are a clutch team. Taking it further, the Rangers’ hitters lead the MLB in a metric called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. The Rangers have three players in the top 15: Adrian Beltre (2nd with a 1.86 Clutch rating), Ian Desmond (11th, 1.25) and Elvis Andrus (12th, 1.24). Their pitching ranks 7th overall with a Clutch of 4. They were also clutch in another way …

Chapter four:
The Houston Domination

The Houston Domination

The Rangers’ record against the two teams pursuing them in the AL West was the difference in their season. They dominated the Houston Astros 15-4 and controlled the Seattle Mariners 12-7. On the flip side they went 10-9 against both the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland A’s, the worst teams in the division. This leads us to a confounding but promising stat …

Chapter Five:
The .500 phenomenom

The two tales of competition

If there is any analytic that bodes well for the Rangers, it’s this one. The Rangers simply take care of business against teams playing .500 or better with a win percentage of .659 (60-31). Against teams below .500? A win percentage of .492 (35-36). Thankfully, they won’t have to mess with any of those below .500 teams. This may be the best indicator of playoff success.

Photos: Star-Telegram; Sources: fangraphs.com, baseball-reference.com; Image logo: makeitstranger.com

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