The 2013 Texas Rangers are at the tail end of what may become one of the most successful months in team history. If the Rangers are able to win two of three at home against the Minnesota Twins, they will tie the 2010 team for the best monthly record in the history of the franchise at 21-6. While many fans may point out that the team’s recent success may be due to their weak August schedule (Texas opponents are a combined 422-506), but could their success also stem from the injection of Leonys Martin into the leadoff spot?
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After a three-game sweep at Cleveland in which the Rangers were shut out twice, manager Ron Washington decided to switch left-handed hitting Leonys Martin to the top of the order while dropping Ian Kinsler to third spot. Washington may have planned for the switch to be temporary to help kick start the offense, but the Rangers’ success has lead the manager to stick with this lineup for over a month. According to TeamRankings, the Rangers are averaging 4.59 runs per game in 2013, and since the end of the Cleveland series on July 27, the Rangers have averaged almost two runs better at 6.2 runs per game.
According to baseball-reference.com, Leonys Martin leads the starting lineup in productive out percentage at 45 percent. This stat is measured by any out that either advances a runner with no outs or drives in a run with the second out (ex. sacrifice fly, RBI groundout, etc.). For the season, Leonys Martin has successfully met either one of those conditions 15 out of 33 possible situations. Couple that stat with the fact that Martin has an 86 percent success rate at moving runners over to third base with no outs in an inning and you get an offense that is creating better opportunities for hitters such as Kinsler and Adrian Beltre to drive in runs. For comparison, Martin is well above the league average for both categories, which are 31 percent and 54 percent respectively. You can see the full table here. Anytime cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre has a chance to hit with runners on base, good things are bound to happen. For the season, Beltre is hitting .306 with 63 RBI and 10 home runs with men on base.
The true test for Leonys Martin and the rest of the Rangers team will be if they can sustain their winning ways headed into the last full month of the season and prove their recent success is not a fluke. If the Rangers can continue to get production for the top part of the order, there is a good chance they will return the AL West title back to Texas.