Rangers Power? NO; Fear The Rays Power

The TBS announcers -- and frankly any one who gets a microphone in front of their gab -- seems to dote on the Rangers power, talking endlessly about the amazing Rangers offense and how Nelson Cruz bats whatever.

True and admirable things: (a) the Rangers were 2nd in the league in homers (210 to the Rays' 172), (b) the Rangers were 3rd in the league with a .177 ISO (compared to the Rays' .155); and the Rangers tied for 2nd best wRC+ in the league (113 to the Rays 103).

However, if you define power as bases per hit instead of bases per at bat, then something else shines through: The power of the Rays.

Power Factor (PF) is a statistic that my pal Lewie Pollis brought to my attention earlier this year. Hanselman then took a deeper look at PF with respect to the Rays, and the results seemed intuitive and correct.

PF is different from ISO (Isolated Power) in that ISO -- which is SLG minus batting average -- is essentially extra base hits per at bat, while PF -- which is ISO divided by batting average -- looks at power per hit, which helps nullify BABIP fluctuations and the anti-patience bias in ISO.

According to PF, the Rays hit for more power than the Rangers, ranking fourth in the league with a .652 PF. The Rangers, meanwhile, are seventh in the league with a .625 PF. This makes sense: The Rangers, whose offense lives and dies on the ability to put balls in play, should receive undue love from ISO, whereas the Rays, whose offense waits for walks more than most (second highest walk rate in the league), can do little right in ISO's cold, statistical eyes.

In other words, the Rangers have a LOT more hits than the Rays (almost 300 more), but they hit more singles, the Rays hit more POWER:

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But we still have one more confounding element in play here: That little replica of a real stadium they call Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

One quick and most definitely dirty way of controlling for the ballpark effect is to look at each team's away PF. There are problems inherent in this method, such as the Rays played away games in Arlington and the Rangers played away games in Tropicana Field (and the unbalanced schedule means the Rays played more games in New York than the Rangers).

But the effect seems too large to be mere stadium bias:

Image004_medium

Not only do the Rays have the fourth-best away PF, but they are on a plateau of their own.

I suspect that, this series, we need to be talking less about the power Rangers, more about the Rays' power.

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