In winning the ALCS against the Tigers, Rangers pitchers issued 22 walks in six games. None of those batters who walked came around to score.
In losing the World Series to the Cardinals, Rangers pitchers walked 41 batters in seven games. 11 of those hitters came around to score. As did two of the batters they hit with pitches.
In the fifth inning Friday, the Cardinals upped their lead from one run to three runs thanks to the following sequence: walk, HBP, groundout, intentional walk, walk, HBP.
The Rangers lost this series because too many of their pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone. The 41 walks were a new World Series record, one more than the Marlins issued in winning the 1997 championship. C.J. Wilson, who is probably going to get about $75 million as a free agent this winter, set another record by issuing 19 walks in 28 innings over the course of the postseason.
Wilson, of course, was the biggest culprit in the World Series, walking 11 in 12 1/3 innings. Alexi Ogando issued seven in 2 2/3 innings. Scott Feldman, the goat in the fifth inning tonight, had six walks in five innings. Closer Neftali Feliz walked four in 3 2/3 innings.
Derek Holland, who, ironically enough, was the Rangers’ most inconsistent pitcher during the regular season, was about the team’s only hurler to hold it together against the Cardinals. He had two walks in 10 1/3 innings.
Too bad he was the one of the Rangers’ four starters not to get two starts in the series.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.