ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara was a tough grader when asked to assess his first season in the Major Leagues."It went OK," Mazara said. "I think I can do better."He is probably more accurate on the second part than the first. Mazara's first season was quite good, but the
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara was a tough grader when asked to assess his first season in the Major Leagues.
"It went OK," Mazara said. "I think I can do better."
He is probably more accurate on the second part than the first. Mazara's first season was quite good, but the Rangers do expect much more in the future. He handled himself well, considering he was the youngest player in the Major Leagues -- 20 years, 350 days -- when he made his debut against the Angels on April 10 and went 3-for-4 with a home run.
Mazara was with the Rangers for the rest of the season and finished hitting .266 with 20 home runs, 64 RBIs, a .320 on-base percentage and a .419 slugging percentage. According to baseball-reference, the player Mazara is most similar to at his age is Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski.
That's a pretty good comparison.
"A tremendous season for Nomar," Rangers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce said. "Through his ups and downs, you never saw his attitude or confidence waiver at all. Very impressed with how he takes everything in stride.
"The young players I have been around in other organizations have the same great quality. They handle their emotions. That's why they are able to handle 500 plate appearances when they are 20-21. He has a great memory of all the pitchers he has faced. Engaged at all times on both sides of the ball."
There were a few things that stood out.
Mazara was the American League Rookie of the Month for April and May, and he hit .282 with 11 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .420 slugging percentage in 305 at-bats before the All-Star break. Afterward, he hit .242 with nine home runs, 28 RBIs and a .417 slugging percentage in 211 at-bats. He was hitless in 21 at-bats over his final six games before going 1-for-6 against the Blue Jays in the ALDS. He also struck out 112 times against 39 walks.
As far as fielding, Mazara's defensive metrics were positive. He posted a 5.9 ultimate zone rating,which ranked 13th among 54 qualifying Major League outfielders, according to FanGraphs. Mazara also had the 13th best fielding percentage among all outfielders and 11th best range factor at 2.36 chances per nine innings.
That's not bad considering how much he bounced between left and right field.
"I am going to work my tail off this winter and get better," Mazara said. "Get better at everything."
His model is veteran third baseman Adrián Beltré.
"I learned a lot from him, just the way he goes about his business," Mazara said. "The way he works hard and is ready to play every day. He has been around a long time and knows how to prepare and be ready every day."
Mazara said he is not going to play Winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. Instead, he will take a week off and resume his conditioning program. He will start swinging the bat again well before Christmas, and Mazara is hoping to be selected to play for the Dominican Republic in next year's World Baseball Classic.
"The offseason is to continue his overall game," Iapoce said. "Just keep challenging himself to be the best player he can be. Take what he has learned this season and build on it."
He has a pretty good rookie season to build off of, and the Rangers are counting on his play to get better. So is Mazara.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.