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By: Jared Sandler

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The Leadoff

*Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) detailed the interesting journey of Rangers prospect, Ronald Guzman.

Game Notes RANGERS 6 Giants 5

*After getting hit hard in the first, Colby Lewis bounced back and completed his three innings allowing just two runs. After the game he said he felt “mechanical” in his first two innings, but felt much better in the third. Early Spring kinks…

*Ryan Rua has now collected seven straight hits if you include his B game performance the other day. Here’s Jeff Banister on Rua:

*Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless frame, though he did surrender a base hit to a lefty.

*Ronald Guzman, the feature in Jeff Wilson’s story above, collected the walkoff hit.

Stat of the Day

.571: Ryan Rua’s batting average this Spring if you include a 4-for-4 in a B game.

Housekeeping

*Shawn Tolleson (back spasms) is throwing from up to 120 feet as of today.

*Jeremy Guthrie (back stiffness) is scheduled to make his 2016 Cactus League debut tomorrow and throw one inning versus the A’s.

Bracketology

Today’s Results

Ryan Rua beats Phil Klein

Nomar Mazara beats Yohander Mendez

Drew Stubbs beats Shawn Tolleson

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Adrian Beltre beats Elvis Andrus

In the front office championship, Jon Daniels beat Thad Levine and Josh Boyd

Winners: Kivlehan, Guthrie, Hamilton, Jaye, Gallo, Diekman, Cordell, Robinson, Gimenez, Desmond, Sadzeck, Ruggiano, Rua, Mazara, Beltre, Stubbs

Losers: Moreland, Odor, Brinson, Dyson, Fielder, Johnson, Chirinos, Lewis, Choo, Hamels, Williams, Davis, Tolleson, Klein, Mendez, Andrus

The Walkoff

The Rangers suffered their first loss of Spring Training yesterday so, sadly, their quest for an unbeaten run through Cactus League play is unreachable yet again. Oh, darn. The loss is irrelevant, but one of the team’s challenges yesterday is quite relevant.

Seattle stole six bases without getting caught once. All six came with Chris Gimenez catching, though it isn’t fair to pin all the blame on him. While stolen base statistics from a defensive perspective gets charged or credited to the catcher, the pitcher is very responsible, too.

Point fingers to whomever, but the reality is that the Rangers’ battery combinations were very poor at controlling the running game last year. In 2015, 82% of baserunners committed robbery successfully against the various Rangers battery combinations, ranking 29th out of 30 MLB teams.

Attempted base stealers stole successfully 74.6% across the league in 2015. With Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez way out in front for the race to be the team’s two catchers, the Rangers, statistically speaking, are without a run-controlling weapon behind the plate. Chirinos fell slightly below average, allowing 76.3% of runners to steal successfully, while Gimenez really struggled, allowing 94.7% of runners to steal successfully (that’s 1-for-19).

Chirinos, in many ways, is still growing as a catcher after getting drafted as an infielder, so it is tough to suggest that he will or won’t improve noticeably in this regard. My guess is that he stays in that range near league average. Throwing out base stealers has never been a strength for Gimenez, having allowed 27 of the last 29 to go unpunished, so it isn’t realistic to expect a positive spike from him, though he can hopefully improve on his recent rate.

Luckily for the Rangers, there were fewer stolen base attempts in 2015 (3569) in Major League Baseball than any other year this century, a trend that started after 2011 when there were 4540 total attempts, the most since 1999. Controlling the running game is a hole the Rangers are going to have to cover up for now and some of that is going to fall on the pitchers, who will need to progress, too.

Here are how the four Rangers starting pitchers we expect in the rotation to begin the year fared in controlling the running game last year as indicated by base stealer’ success rates:

Cole Hamels: 88.9% (24/27)

Colby Lewis: 80.0% (12/15)

Derek Holland: 33.3% (1/3)

Martin Perez: 100.0% (2/2)

*88.9% (8/9) stole successfully against Hamels while with the Rangers.

Yu Darvish, whom the Rangers expect to join the rotation as early as mid-May, has never been good at holding runners, either. In his career, 82.3% (51/62) have stolen successfully.

No team is perfect, especially not in March. This isn’t a major flaw and is certainly not one that, if unfixed, will prevent a team from having success–only one of the top 10 teams in throwing out baserunners in 2015 advanced to play a series (Toronto), but is something to chew on as we get ready for the season.

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Until tomorrow, Peace Be the Journey