From now until Opening Day (assuming there is interest), I am going to publish the report card style matchups for the Astros vs. all of the teams in the MLB. From this Astros fans will get a deeper sense of how their team REALLY compares vs. the MLB. We will do this one team at a time, and I REALLY would like you all to use the comment section below for questions/ comments.
The second stop starts the trip through the AL West and our closest neighbors..... the Texas Rangers.
For these matchups I will use the current data from the Roster Resource pages of the Fangraphs.com website.
For these summary report cards we will evaluate based on the Fangraphs projected stats for 2023 and compare the result to the actual 2022 stats.
As we have discussed in the previous Astros Report Card Articles here is the grading scale for the position players.
To account for the value of defense a player can get a letter grade bump up or down based on their projected defensive WAR (or actual defensive WAR for 2022) for their primary defensive position.
For the pitchers we will use these two scales- one for 2023 based on projected FIP and the other for the 2022 actual FIP- data.
The Position Player Matchup- Astros vs. Rangers
For the position players, we will evaluate by starting position and the bench based on the projected PA each bench player will get. For this I score the top FIVE key bench players and top THREE MiLB players,
The overall score will be based on the point values to the right. The differences are tallied in the columns to the right.
Overall Score = Starter Differences + Bench Differences / 2 + MiLB Players Differences /4
When a difference involves a player with less than 100 PA (or 20 IP for pitchers), I either excluded it or cut the difference in half.
Blank cells had ZERO PA or IP in 2022.
I included the players from 2022 that have left the team for informational purposes.
As you can see the Astros bats project to be better than the Rangers bats. Alvarez, Tucker, and Bregman are the biggest advantage for the Astros. The Rangers are counting on the development of some younger talent (Jung, Smith, Tavaras, Thompson, and Duran). If that happens quickly the overall gap here is overstated.
Both of these offenses SHOULD be good, but the Astros should be better. Also, injuries seemingly negatively impact the Yankees offense every year.
Overall, the 2023 difference is +8.5 for the Astros. The Rangers are counting on the development of some younger talent (Jung, Smith, Tavaras, Thompson, and Duran). If that happens quickly the overall gap here is overstated.
The Actual gap in 2022 was even larger at +14. The actual run differential was not that high, but the addition of Alvarez closes what was a huge 1B advantage for the Rangers in 2022. Alvarez, Brantley, and Bregman led this gap for the Astros.
The Pitching Matchup- Astros vs. Rangers
For the pitchers, we will evaluate the projected starting rotation PLUS a #6 starter and the bullpen based on the projected RP roles and then filling out the RP by projected IP (or actual IP for 2022). I score a staff of 14 MLB pitchers and the top SIX MiLB pitchers. This accounts for a typical usage of pitchers in the MLB in 2023.
Overall Score = Starter Differences + Bullpen Differences / 2 + MiLB Players Differences /4
Astros fans are going to be shocked to know (and likely very dismissive of the projected algorithms- "the computers hate the Astros") that the RANGERS pitching staff projects to be essentially on par with the Astros in 2023.
Starting Pitching- The Rangers invested significant resources this offseason in pitching- mainly SP. They signed deGrom, Eovaldi, and Heaney. They traded for Odorizzi for their 6th SP spot. deGrom MAY be the best SP in the MLB IF healthy. Most will argue the algorithms are wrong about Javier. They MIGHT be, but PLEASE don't yell at me about what the data says. I am reflecting what the projection algorithms are predicting about the season. Overall, the Rangers SP investment is projected to pay big benefits.
Bullpen- The Astros bullpen DOES project to be marginally better that the Rangers bullpen. The Astros premium arms are better than the premium arms for the Rangers. However, the Rangers bullpen is sneakily deep and some of those arms are an advantage for the Rangers. The gap is FAR less than most Astros fans would be willing to admit.
Minors- Both teams don't really have arms they want to count on in 2023 in the minors.
The overall pitching gap calculates to +0.25 for an advantage to the Astros. It should be noted that the Astros DID have a significant advantage in 2022. What the projection systems are also including is that some of the Astros pitchers pitched career or near career years in 2022.
Overall Summary- Astros vs. Rangers
This method says the Astros still have a decent advantage over the Rangers. The gap is smaller than it was in 2022. The Rangers ARE coming. If their young talent develops and their FA signings over the past two years stay elite, these two teams may have some real battles ahead in 2024+.
I know you won't listen. You don't have to; you are fans. I am trying to do these matchups objectively and to tell you what the DATA says.
I have a theory that the total gap between teams will be close to the win differential between those teams. That would put the difference between these two teams at 9 wins. That seems about right for me. If the Astros win 93 games and the Rangers win 84 games, would ANYONE be completely surprised? I wouldn't.
We will explore that theory as we work through the rest of AL West. Next up- the Los Angeles Angels.
PLEASE COMMENT BELOW- with your questions and/or thoughts.
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