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May062014

2nd Base and the Offensive Regression

When news surfaced prior to the start of the regular season that Jurickson Profar would miss 10-12 weeks with a muscle tear in his right shoulder, the initial reaction among most fans was panic. After all, when Ian Kinsler was traded over the winter -- regardless of individual feelings toward that particular move -- there was a general sense of excitement at seeing what Profar could do while holding down a full-time, defined role.

The Rangers headed into the season with a combination of Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy, neither of whom appeared impressive on paper. Despite those low expectations, Wilson and Murphy started the season admirably.

Through April 23 when the Rangers were finishing off a stretch of 10 wins in 13 days as well as a sweep of the A's in Oakland, Wilson had a line of .325/.357/.375, and Murphy had a line of .240/.310/.360. Neither guy's numbers would exactly put them in All-Star territory, but considering that neither was even expected to be on the roster at the onset of Spring Training, the Rangers could have certainly done much worse for almost the first month of the season.

Since that date, Josh Wilson has posted up a line of .083/.120/.125. Prior to Monday night's game in Colorado -- and since Fangraphs databases don't update until the early morning -- Wilson's wRC+ had fallen to 57.

For his part, Donnie Murphy hasn't been much better. His line since April 23 is .176/.222/.176. His wRC+ on the season -- Murphy didn't play in Monday night's game in in Colorado -- sits at 61.

In other words, the duo that started off so admirably at the beginning of the season has, somewhat expectedly, fallen back to earth.

It remains to be seen exactly how the two will perform moving forward, but the truth is, the Rangers don't have too many options at this point if neither Wilson or Murphy step up and provide some offensive value. In fairness, Wilson has been worth 3 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) at 2nd base in 2014 -- Murphy hasn't fared as well at -1 -- so it isn't as if Wilson has provided absolutely nothing of value, and might help explain why he's received a larger share of the plate appearances at 2nd base as the season has progressed.

With the struggles of Elvis Andrus and the combined struggles of J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos in the absence of Geovany Soto, Wilson and Murphy's offensive struggles of late have been somewhat exacerbated.

There was some thought heading into the season that if Frisco super-prospect Rougned Odor started the season strong, he might be called up to help fill the void until Profar was able to return, which would be in June at the earliest.  Odor started the season a bit slow, but has worked his way up to a .264/.291/.374 line with 4 home runs, 5 walks, and 6 stolen bases.

In my mind, the idea of calling up Odor at this point doesn't seem as feasible as it did back at the end of March. Stranger things have happened, but I'm skeptical that the organization would view a short-term call-up of a player with as much upside as Odor as something that would pay long-term dividends toward his growth in relation to the short-term benefits he might provide the Major League club.

At best, Kensuke Tanaka could be a fallback option. For AAA Round Rock, Tanaka has posted up an OPS of .839 and a wRC+ of 130. If the Rangers were to decide that they needed to go in a different direction until Profar returns to the lineup, Tanaka would seem to be, to me, the best short-term fit from within.

Given that the Rangers believe -- and deservedly so -- that Jurickson Profar still has a long-term future with the organization, a trade would seem to be highly unlikely, if not unreasonable at this point.

We're already a week into the month of May, and yes, the players sharing time at 2nd base are struggling. One has actually provided some defensive value, but as of late, neither has provided anything on offense. Perhaps that changes, or perhaps we continue to see below-replacement-level production from that spot.

Even when Jurickson Profar is able to return, there's still no guarantee that he'll provide a significant difference this season, but he's a player with enough upside that I'm still excited and anxious to see. Until then, it would appear that we'll be seeing more of Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy, and in a worst-case scenario, a little bit of Kensuke Tanaka.

It's not ideal by any means, but the fact that the Rangers have managed to hold things together with two replacements sharing time at 2nd base, two replacements -- J.P. Arencibia has been beyond awful and Robinson Chirinos wasn't supposed to be on the Major League roster -- at catcher, a struggling Elvis Andrus, injured and somewhat struggling Adrian Beltre, a struggling Prince Fielder, a patchwork rotation and bullpen that has struggled at times, and, well I think you get the picture.

It's amazing that we're not looking at something much worse than 17-15, and with an upcoming schedule that's just friendly enough to merit some optimism, perhaps the Rangers can make it through the injuries and have something to look forward to. Prince Fielder has been hitting the ball hard as of late, and at some point, Adrian Beltre figures to go on a hot streak. If/when that happens, perhaps the offensive struggles at 2nd base don't seem as serious, or perhaps things pick up just a little from that position.

The regression from Wilson and Murphy was somewhat expected, but I'm inclined to believe that they're not THIS bad, and that the truth perhaps lies somewhere in the middle. In which case this could all be a moot conversation at this time next week, because that's just how these 2014 Texas Rangers like to roll.

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References (12)

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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    Response: maharesult2014
    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    Response: Boost Testosterone
    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    Response: total testosterone
    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
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    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog
  • Response
    2nd Base and the Offensive Regression - Home - One Strike Away: A Texas Rangers Blog

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