ARLINGTON, Texas -- Despite just two runs scored Sunday, the Texas Rangers' offense came alive during this recent 10-game homestand. They scored in various ways, something manager Ron Washington has preached. He wants a versatile offense that can cash in opportunities without necessarily having to have a hit in every situation.
But for an offense to succeed, it has to get the job done with two strikes. And the Rangers are doing that. Texas is batting .219 with two strikes in the count. That's tops in the American League. In fact, only the Rangers and Yankees (.202) are hitting over .200 in those situations. The Rangers have the third-fewest strikeouts in the AL with two strikes in the count and are tied for the fourth-most walks.
The club's best two-strike hitter is Adrian Beltre, who is slated to return this weekend from the disabled list. He's tied for sixth in the league in two-strike batting average. But the Rangers are the only team with five players in the top-25 in two-strike average. That also includes Josh Wilson (4-for-14, 2 RBIs), Alex Rios (9-for-32, 3 RBIs), Shin-Soo Choo (11-for-40, 4 RBIs) and Elvis Andrus (10-for-38, 2 RBIs).
It's early and we'll see where these averages go throughout the course of the season, but so far the Rangers are seeing some success with two strikes.
“I have a plan and so far it is working," Andrus said about his two-strike approach, which has improved over last year (he finished last season at .195 with two strikes). "I try to be a little bit earlier than on my regular approach. I concentrate on seeing the ball better. I try to see the breaking ball before it breaks. The biggest thing is being able to swing at strikes. Maybe in the past I was too impatient with two strikes."
The Rangers didn't hit poorly with two strikes in 2013 -- they were sixth in the AL at .187. But, like so many aspects of the offense, a little improvement could provide big help. When last season ended, only two Rangers were in the top-40 in average with two strikes: Beltre and Ian Kinsler.
Choo's presence certainly helps. He's patient and never out of an at-bat. He doesn't seem to mind full counts or two-strike counts, either. His approach is starting to have a trickle-down effect, especially when it comes to the No. 2 spot in the order.
"We talk about it," Andrus said of the approach with two strikes. "For sure he is a big influence for me, seeing how well he does it."