Texas shocked baseball traditionalists last season by proving that minor league seasoning was just so much hooey. Ten rookies helped the Rangers to the AL West lead for 46 days before they fell to second for good in July.
It helped to have a manager, Bobby Valentine, who was willing to suffer inexperience. Subtleties such as baserunning (their stolen-base average was .551) and holding runners on (opponents stole at a .764 rate) were lost on the lambs. But they compensated with powerful arms and bats.
The most powerful arm belongs to Bobby Witt, who was 7-0 with a 3.76 ERA after July 1. The Rangers hope that Jose Guzman will be more consistent now that he is on medication to calm a hyperactive thyroid. Edwin Correa has a more spiritual problem. Valentine agreed to Correa's request not to pitch him from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, because he is a Seventh-Day Adventist. That could wreak havoc on a five-day rotation, but fortunately, 39-year-old knuckleballer Charlie Hough can start with two, three or four days' rest to keep the others on schedule.
The pitchers should have plenty of runs to work with, thanks to such offensive stars as Oddibe McDowell, Pete O'Brien, Pete Incaviglia, Ruben Sierra and Larry Parrish. Eventually, Valentine wants rookie Jerry Browne, the best second baseman from the Virgin Islands since Horace Clarke, to take over the leadoff spot.
This just might be the year the Rangers take over the leadoff spot in the AL West.
In two seasons has driven in only 22.5% of runners from scoring position.
Only .300 hitter last year who entered the season with a career average of less than .250.
Yearly batting averages vs. lefthanders since 1984: .213, .225, .309.
Had 185 strikeouts, only four short of Bobby Bonds's major league record.
Slugging average of .476 was higher than Incaviglia's, Joyner's or Canseco's.
Drove in 41.5% of runners from scoring position, best rate in majors.
Batting .293 when beaned by Oil Can last May 17; hit .252 after July 4 return.
Good thing he's not a Cub: batted .188 in day games; .258 at night.
One of three pitchers with 225 or more innings in each of last five seasons.
Led rookies in both innings pitched (202.1) and strikeouts (189).
22 wild pitches in 157.2 innings, breaking AL record of 21.
Batting support: 3.79 runs per start, 6th lowest in the AL.
Allowed 7.26 walks per nine innings; no other AL reliever averaged more than 5.00.
Righthanded opponents' career average: .234; lefthanded opponents' career average: 234.