Now that the season for the Texas Rangers has been over for almost a week – and a lot longer in some people’s minds – it’s time to hand out the report cards for the players.
My grading system is simple. A’s go to those who had excellent seasons, B’s to those who were above average, C’s to those who were average, D’s to those below average and F’s to those either need to give back the money they were overpaid or find a new city to play in. There will also be some incompletes handed out for those who didn’t see enough time to be fairly graded or had their season end because of injuries. There will be no plusses or minuses given because that makes my head hurt.
Today we’ll focus on the pitching. Tomorrow it’s the position players.
RHP Yu Darvish – Sure he didn’t win 20 games like some in the Japanese media expected but he was in the rotation from day 1 and won 16 games, struck out more than 200 batters and started the team’s lone playoff game. He got stronger down the stretch. The biggest adjustment Darvish made was to the American style of baseball. His play this year has laid the foundation for next year and raised the bar.
RHP Koji Uehara – He went from an F student to an A student all in one year. Uehara may have been helped by his time on the disabled list. He was the freshest pitcher down the stretch and it showed. He didn’t allow a run after August. It was the perfect time for him to have a big season as he’s headed to free agency.
LHP Matt Harrison – Harrison continued to build off his breakout season of 2011. He led the club in wins, starts, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. While he doesn’t overpower hitters, his 133 strikeouts still ranked third on the team. Harrison was the most reliable pitcher the Rangers had from start-to-start.
RHP Joe Nathan – The answer to the question is three blown saves. That’s all Nathan had for the Rangers in his first year with the club. Sure they were memorable, especially the one to the Angels, but he excelled at his job. Closers are supposed to save games and Nathan saved 37 of the 40 chances he had. Sounds like an A season.
LHP Robbie Ross – Ross was a revelation for the bullpen in the first half of the season, was an honor student deserving of All-Star consideration as the lone reliable left in the Texas bullpen. But in his final 24 appearances, Ross came back to Earth as he had a 5.60 ERA (0.98 before All-Star Break) and saw his appearances limited by performance and a stint on the disabled list. Still, it was a breakout season for a pitcher who hadn’t been above Double A.
RHP Alexi Ogando – Once again Ogando was the type of weapon he was in last year’s postseason, giving the Rangers flexibility to use him anytime they wanted. The Rangers were able to use him for more than one inning 17 times. He missed more than a month of the season with a groin strain and had a sore arm late in the season. That may have led to an ERA of 5.40 from September on.
RHP Ryan Dempster – He’d have gotten an F if the grade was based on his starts vs. the Angels, who he went 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA against. But he also had a stretch where he went 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA. He wasn’t a No. 1 starter for Texas after he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs but anyone who thought that would be the case was wrong. RHP Mike Adams – If Adams’ struggles this year were thoracic outlet syndrome related, then this grade needs an asterisk beside it. Adams did his job with 27 holds but some were rockier than others. He said he had some numbness in his arm for most of the season. That would explain him posting his highest ERA since 2006, more than twice what it was last year. He did his job setting up Nathan but wasn’t the same dominant set-up man he’s been in the past.
RHP Tanner Scheppers – When he came up to the team in June when Derek Holland went on the disabled list, he seemed like a short-term solution. Scheppers ended up making 39 appearances for Texas. He showed flashes of being a dominant reliever but still needs to develop another pitch that he can consistently throw to go along with his fastball. LHP Michael Kirkman – He may have finally carved a spot for himself with the Rangers as a lefty in the bullpen. Kirkman had some big outings down the stretch, pitching well against Tampa Bay and Oakland in September. He also had his share of clunkers too. It is hard to argue that Kirkman thought he had a great year, especially after he had treatment for skin cancer during spring training and early in the season.
LHP Martin Perez – The Rangers have to hope there’s more to Perez at the major-league level than what he showed in 15 appearances. His grade is based on the fact that he’s just 21 and showed flashes. The problem is that most of the flashes came in relief. Texas could need Perez to step up as a starter and that need could come as soon as to open the 2013 season.
LHP Derek Holland – If you were going by the bottom line, a 12-win season for a pitcher who missed more than a month for shoulder fatigue certainly would be satisfactory. But Holland once again failed to deliver on a consistent basis. He didn’t lose a start in August or September but that had as much to do with the offense as his pitching. He had an ERA of higher than 5.00 heading into August.
RHP Scott Feldman – Technically Feldman should get an F because he’ll be in another city next year. But he wasn’t an F student. He did win six-consecutive decisions at one point. If his role would have been in the bullpen like it was supposed to be when the season started, he probably would have graded higher. But you can’t overlook his struggles as a starter.
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama – Manager Ron Washington loved him because he would take the ball whenever the Rangers needed him too. The bad thing is that in his 14 appearances, most came in mop-up duty and the results weren’t good. While he had eight scoreless appearances, he also had four in which he allowed more than one run. Lefties also hit .300 against the side-armer with four home runs in 30 at-bats.
RHP Roy Oswalt – Little known Oswalt fact… he didn’t’ allow a run in his final four appearances for the Rangers. Of course those four appearances came in a total of 4 2/3 innings and were in relief. The Rangers didn’t dole out $5 million for part of a season for him to pitch well in relief. He was a disaster as a starter, going 3-3 with a 6.36 ERA and opponents hit .345 against him.
RHP Mark Lowe – The overall numbers don’t look bad. A 3.43 ERA and 28 strikeouts in less than 40 innings looks good on paper. But once again Lowe pitched himself into being a mop-up reliever after posting an 18.90 ERA in September. He only pitched seven times in the final six weeks, a sign of the lack of trust in Lowe.
RHP Colby Lewis – The rock of the rotation missed the last half of the season because of a torn flexor tendon. The rotation never really recovered either as it was impossible to plug the gap for a starter who you knew what you were going to get in every start.
RHP Neftali Feliz – The transition from closer to starter was on target for Feliz as he made eight starts, going 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA. That all changed in May though as he tore his right elbow ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he’s return in 2013 but his role remains uncertain.
RHP Justin Grimm – He opened eyes with a strong effort in his first start. That may have had more to do with the fact that he was facing Houston though. He pitched one inning against Detroit in his next start. Still, Grimm is now on the Texas radar.
RHP Wilmer Font – A surprise late call-up, Font displayed a power arm in his three appearances. The best thing for Font is he got through the season with a healthy arm, which is big for a pitcher who missed 2011 after having Tommy John surgery.