FG on Fox: Maybe it’s Time for Texas to Rebuild

Quick, name the worst team in baseball right now. The Houston Astros are a good choice, as they have lost at least 100 games in three consecutive seasons and are currently tied for the worst record in baseball. The Chicago Cubs are also a candidate, given that they are tied with the Astros in the win column and just traded away two of their best starting pitchers, weakening their roster going forward. Both teams are deep in rebuilding mode, and they are paying the price on the field each day.

However, I’d like to suggest that 2014’s worst team might not be either of these rebuilding clubs, but instead an organization that entered the year with high hopes of contention.

At 38-52, the Texas Rangers are just a game ahead of the Astros in the AL West standings, so if you were just judging by wins and losses, you wouldn’t put them behind Houston just yet. However, since the difference between a win and a loss can often come down to whether one crucial play gets made or not, a team’s record can be a bit misleading. Teams are more effectively evaluated by removing the context from when events occur, and just looking at the value of positive or negative events a team is involved in without regards to the situation of when those events happen.

At FanGraphs, we measure team performance through a model called BaseRuns, which calculates the number of runs a team would be expected to score and allow based on a normal distribution of events. With these expected run differentials, we can calculate team records based on overall performance without the influences of clutch performance, which is generally random and mostly beyond a team’s control.
And BaseRuns thinks that the Rangers have been baseball’s worst team so far this year, without any reasonable contender even coming all that close to their marks of futility.

Based on their total performance to date, we would have expected the Rangers to have been outscored by 105 runs, or a deficit of more than a full run per game played. The next worst total belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks, but their expected run differential is only -62 runs. If you translate these expected runs scored and allowed totals into wins, the model would forecast the Rangers for a 34-56 record, four games worse than their actual record. As bad as they’ve played, the Rangers have actually been lucky to not be even worse off in the standings.

Read the rest on FoxSports.com.

We hoped you liked reading FG on Fox: Maybe it’s Time for Texas to Rebuild by Dave Cameron!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
RMD
Guest
RMD

Derp. They’re not gonna rebuild because doing so would be foolish.

They’re in the same position the Angels were in last year! They have talent, but have a losing record. Once they lost on veterans with injury – all the air was let out of the tires and the season simply dredged on.

Their problem here is the same as the Yankees. They went on a spending spree which resulted making sure they get all the present value before the back end of these contracts really wreak havoc. To call it quits already is a laughable because they’d be selling LOW when all their chips are already in the middle.I’m not saying a team should stay pot-committed in perpetuity like the Phillies – They are a clear case of an aging roster going wrong all at once. They should have held a fire sale by now. They’re hopeless.

The Rangers are different. Fielder, Choo, Harrison, Beltre, Soto are all perfectly capable of putting up surplus value compared to their 2015 salaries. Some will. Some won’t. Write it down. Darvish, Harrison, Andrus, Perez, and Martin are all in their primes. Profar is a former top prospect who’s perfectly capable of being a great asset. I think they’ll be the Angels of 2015.

primi timpano
Guest
primi timpano

RMD. It looks like Harrison’s injury will end his career.