Question: If a team sweeps a doubleheader and nobody is there to see it, did it really happen?
● A double-digit throttling of the Orioles in Fenway Park and more infuriating extra-inning "magic" for the Angels -- and by "magic," I mean "having the good fortune of batting against a replacement-level Miguel Batista in the bottom of the 10th inning" -- precluded a potential 1½-game leap in either race in which Texas is presently competing, but the obligatory half-game bump in the standings presumably spiked the Rangers' post-season odds above and beyond the 30 percent mark yet again; not surprisingly, no other Rangers team this decade has enjoyed such lofty post-season odds as late as September 9th.
[Historical footnote: Remember the locally revered 2004 squad that ultimately won 89 games, narrowly missed backdooring its way into a division title and retroactively attained borderline iconic status in the annals of franchise history? On September 9th, 2004, that squad's post-season odds rested at a meager three percent.]
Baseball Prospectus's traditional post-season odds report derives its expected rest-of-the-season winning percentages from the number of third-order wins a ballclub has accrued to date (which are based upon said ballclub's expected runs scored and allowed, adjusted for strength of schedule and the quality of their opponents' hitting and pitching), followed by an application of regression to the mean.
Things are not quite so sunny and bright with the publication's PECOTA-based post-season odds report, which forecasts a 15 percent probability of post-October 4th baseball for the Rangers, but this relies entirely upon outdated PECOTA depth charts and a projection system that incorrectly foresaw a 90-loss campaign, so one finds it inherently difficult to invest much stock into that figure.
If the 2005 Chicago White Sox -- who outperformed their PECOTA projection by 19 games and swept the feel-good Astros straight out of the Fall Classic -- were affectionately dubbed "The Team That Broke PECOTA," doesn't this ballclub deserve an equally sarcastic moniker?
● The age-20 rookie campaign of shortstop Elvis Andrus bears a most startling resemblance to the age-20 rookie campaign of his most popularly cited comp, Edgar Renteria, in the sense that Andrus resides upon a virtually identical three-win(s above replacement) trajectory. But that might be just about where the statistical comp ends.
Andrus's park-adjusted wOBA of .331, reinforced by exemplary baserunning and blue-ribbon marks across the defense-evaluating spectrum (roughly eight runs above average according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and the plus/minus defensive rating system, not to mention team-best marks in Tom Tango's 2009 Fan Scouting Report), render him an immensely valuable commodity in terms of both production and marketability, because let's perfectly frank here -- people will pay money to watch players who can perform acrobatic feats of this caliber, irrespective of the state of the economy:
[Direct link available here.]
Let us hope that the Renteria-Andrus parallel does not extend into the age-21-and-beyond realm, however, for it would take six years before Renteria managed to replicate the success of his breakout 1996 campaign. From 1997 through 2001, Renteria would collectively amass just 5.9 wins over a five-season span, effectively making him a below-average major league shortstop even with the necessary inclusion of the defensive element, and his career in a Marlins uniform would conclude in mid-December 1998 after he was shuttled to the Cardinals in exchange for a three-player package that would produce only one serviceable player -- Braden Looper, whose utility was restricted to the bullpen.
St. Louis would ultimately reap the rewards of Renteria's breakout age-27 and age-28 seasons, but his swift rise and fall nevertheless serves as a sobering cautionary tale. There is no denying that every player is unique, and Andrus has furnished us with every reason to believe that his developmental curve will remain smooth and continuous as opposed to becoming spastic and herky-jerky, but sometimes that sophomore slump keeps going ... and going ... and going ...
● An unprecedented 7-for-9, one-homer, one-walk effort by Marlon Byrd in Tuesday's day-night doubleheader nudged his post-July 29th offensive performance ever closer towards the luminous .900 OPS threshold (.312/.355/.543 in his last 155 plate appearances, to be exact), assuredly padding the multi-year contract which most expect that he'll garner in free agency this coming winter.
Whether the Rangers should be the team that supplies Byrd with life-changing financial security in the form of a $10 million-plus investment isn't a question that most of us are prepared to answer with complete and utter conviction just yet (particularly in light of the uncertainty that continues to surround Josh Hamilton), but if this really is the end of the line for Byrd's three-year career in Texas, let us appreciate him for what he is and what he will hopefully continue to be -- one of baseball's legitimate good guys who emerged from relative obscurity and reinvented himself as a flexible, quality role player on a championship-caliber ballclub, something that not every team is fortunate enough to boast.
No, he's not perfect, and he's given us all cause for aggravation from time to time (some times more often than others), but you could do many worse things with a 25-man roster spot besides giving it to Marlon Byrd. I'm sure Dayton Moore is just bursting at the seams with some great ideas.