Texas Rangers: Biggest of the Astros’ AL West rivals

Dan and Chip have been reviewing the Astros AL West rivals. Today Dan is looking at their biggest rival the Texas Rangers.

2016 Record. 95-67 – 1st place in AL West

Last Playoff Appearance. 2016

World Series Appearances/Wins.  0 for 2 – 2010 and 2011

Best Franchise Season. 96-66 in 2011

Worst Franchise Season. 56-106 in 1963 as the Washington Senators – they were in Washington from 1961-1971

Manager.  Jeff Bannister – Entering his 3rd season with the Rangers (183-141) – Local Houston area product out of LaMarque HS, Lee College and University of Houston.

GM. Jon Daniels – Entering his twelfth season – was the youngest GM in baseball history at 28 yrs old in 2005

2016 Payroll (from spotrac). $169 million (8th in MLB).

2017 Payroll (projected by spotrac). $168 million (7th).

2016 Offense. 764 Runs (4th in AL),  215 HRs (5th),  99 SB (4th), . 262 BA (3rd), .755 OPS (7th)

2016 Starting Pitching.  4.38 ERA (9th),  1.37 WHIP (9th),  344 BBs (Worst), 729 Ks (12th), .260 BAA (6th),  .756 OPS against (7th)

2016 Bullpen.  4.40 ERA (14th),  1.36 WHIP (12th),  Saves 56 (1st),  Blown Saves 17 (4th best), .261  BA against (14th)  .747 OPS against (10th)

The Rangers had a very good offense in 2016 that paired with a middle of the road starting rotation and a compete enigma of a bullpen to put together an excellent season. Anyone paying attention knows that the Rangers rode an insane 36-11 record in 1 run games and a 15-4 record against the Astros to this terrific record. The big question is whether this is repeatable or was 2016 a mirage?

Infield. The foundation of the Rangers good offense in 2016 was the infield. The three returning starters, super 3B Adrian Beltre (.300 BA/.879 OPS/ 32 HR/104 RBIs), SS Elvis Andrus (.302/.800/8 HRs/69 HRs/ 24 SBs) and 23 y.o. 2B Roughned Odor (.271/.798/33 HR/89 RBI) were beyond solid. They let Mitch Moreland go to free agency in the hopes that 35 y.o. free agent signee Mike Napoli can repeat his 34 HR/101 RBI season of 2016 (rather than his mediocre seasons from 2014 and 2015).

Outfield. The fact that former Astro CF Carlos Gomez is the one sure OF starter in the outfield for the Rangers speaks volumes to their problems. Gomez did hit well in 33 games for Texas (.284 BA/.905 OPS/8 HR/ 24 RBIs) – much better than the struggling former Astro farmhand Delino Deshields Jr.. Big money free agent RF Shin-Soo Choo (who the Rangers still owe $82 million) was injured and ineffective in 2016 and will likely spend more time at DH with Nomar Mazara (.266 BA / .739 OPS/ 20 HRs/ 64 RBIs) taking the bulk of ABs in right.  Left Field may be a combo of Mazara and utility man Jurickson Profar (.239/.660/ 5 HRs/ 20 RBIs). Not too inspiring.

DH and C. Choo, if healthy will be expected to take up the slack for Prince Fielder and new Astro DH Carlos Beltran. He will likely share some ABs at DH with OF Ryan Bua (.258/.731/8 HRs / 22 RBIs)

C Jonathan Lucroy was picked up in a big move at the trade deadline and brings the Rangers a terrific bat at the catcher position (.292/ .855/ 24 HRs/ 81 RBIs)

Starting Rotation. The Rangers have a very solid TOR if….. Yu Darvish (7-5 and 3.41 ERA in only 100 IP) is healthy enough to give the Rangers a strong one-two punch with Cole Hamels (15-5 and 3.32 ERA). Martin Perez may be ready to take a step forward after a solid 2016 (10-11, 4.39 ERA) in the 3 spot of the rotation. The last two spots are question marks as both Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner who the Rangers picked up from San Diego and Miami respectively are not healthy and likely neither will be ready to go this April. A.J. Griffin had a good 7-4 record and a bad 5.07 ERA in 23 starts last season. Former Astro minor leaguer Mike Hauschild was picked up in the Rule 5 draft and will be given every chance to show he belongs. Other options vary from Chi Chi Gonzalez to Nick Martinez to resigning Colby Lewis who is still floating around as a free agent.

The ‘Pen. Can the Rangers repeat an odd 2016 where the bullpen had awful stats, but somehow were very good in saves (56 of 73) and winning (41 W-20 L)? The good news is that their 4 best relievers Sam Dyson (3-2, 2.43 ERA, 38 Saves), Tony Barnette (7-3, 2.09 ERA), Matt Bush (7-2, 2.48 ERA) and Alex Claudio (4-1, 2.79 ERA) are back and ready to go. The bad news is one of their workhorses, Jake Diekman (3.40 ERA in 66 games) is out until the All Star game and the balance of the returnees look like refugees from the 2013 Astros bullpens. Of the “other” folks who pitched for the Rangers in 2016 – sixteen of them had ERAs of over 5.00 and eight had ERAs over 7.50. They are hoping for help from Jeremy Jeffress, Keone Kela, Dario Alvarez, Jose Leclerc, Nick Martinez or others….

Prognosis. Their lineup is dangerous especially if the good Carlos Gomez plays along with a full season of Jonathan Lucroy. The rotation is the key as they don’t have any sure things in the 4th and 5th hole and Darvish has to show he is healthy for a full season. The bullpen carried them to their unrepeatable (yes I’m saying that) one run game record in 2016. The ‘pen looks good but not deep. If you can make them go deep in their bullpen they might be at your mercy.

Projection: 89-73 – Even if they won 60% of their one run games they would be 8 games worse than 2016. They seem to be set for some regression in 2017, especially if the Astros stop playing them like a little brother against his bigger bro’.


49 comments on “Texas Rangers: Biggest of the Astros’ AL West rivals

  1. I know this is off subject from the Rangers (spit), but I had the pleasure yesterday in Florida of seeing A.J. Reed (Joe Adcock) hit one with the bases full. He and Moran sure seem bent on presenting the Stros a pleasant problem concerning what to do with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised that there are so few comments today. Is everyone at Spring Break wearing bikinis and speedos and drinking from beer bongs??


    • Dan, I’m having a real hard time writing anything about the Rangers.
      It started with Hamilton and Kinsler, who laughed constantly at the Astros team when the Rangers slaughtered them during the teardown.
      Then they got Choo, which burned me.
      Then they drafted DeShields, who I believe dogged it in the minors so that the Astros would set him free.
      Then there’s the thug, Odor.
      Then there is Hamels and the deal with him choosing Dallas over Houston.
      Then there is the Gomez thing.
      Then there’s Hinch letting Bannister shove him around and then kissing up to Bannister.
      Then there’s Conger letting Fielder shove him around.
      Then there is all of our young studs laying down in front of the Ranger Train last season.
      It was my idea for us to have a looksee at our AL West competitors, but I didn’t know how deeply my feelings are about the Rangers until I tried to write about it this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just being completely honest – I don’t really care about the Rangers. It doesn’t feel like a rivalry. A rivalry should be based on good competition. We dislike the Rangers because they are jerks and their Johnny-Come-Lately fans jumped on the bandwagon about the time the wheels were coming off our train. You can respect the fans in STL, Cincinnati, or even Atlanta. I’m not sure the folks up I-45 have earned our respect yet. Besides, they’re probably also Cowboys fans. Yuck.


    • Also of note is that he played 1B and SS today. He’s played multiple times at SS this spring. Gov was noting that Marwin at $5M may be considered too expensive next season. The more versatility the Astros see in Kemp, White, and Moran the more likely they are to stick around and actually see some action with the big league club.


      • Marwin’s price next season is $5.12 million. That’s why he may not be around. That’s a lot for a super utility guy who had .3 WAR last season and may not get as many ABs this year.


      • I originally read daveb’s comment as Moran instead of Marwin, but if we’re paying $4 million to Mike Fiers and $7 million to Charlie Morton I’m not sure I see where Marwin is too expensive. He’s not a guy you want getting 400 AB, but being a switch hitter who can play 4-5 defensive positions well is valuable. I’ll stop bringing it up, but the Cleveland Indians made the final out in the world series batting Michael Martinez. Do you really want Jim Crane to save a few million dollars to fill out spot 25 on the roster with a player of his caliber? Wouldn’t it make sense to just keep the guy you have the option on who is a known quantity and at least provides a positive WAR…even being misused?


      • I’m going to agree with OP here. I would much rather have Fiers and his 1.1 WAR or Morton and his projected 1.6 WAR over Marwin and his 0.3 WAR at $5.2M. Marwin strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough to make him anymore than a spare part that’s not worth over $5M.


      • My comment about Marwin had nothing to do with Moran. Marwin, although versatile, is simply not that good a ball player on a 25 man roster that continues to become more talented.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s easy to dismiss Marwin’s .3 WAR by saying he is a .3 WAR player, but he had a 1.6 the year before. I know baseball is a what have you done for me lately game, but consider that he is just now entering his prime at 28, what happens if he drops 3% off that K rate? You have to be concerned that every year in the league, as he gets more and more exposure, his K rate keeps increasing. What if he goes back to super sub role, and only sees 300-350 PAs? He may just be that kind of player.

        I just don’t like WAR because it seems so resultive, but does nothing to be predictive. How do explain a 27 year old going from 1.6 to 0.3 in more plate appearances? It doesn’t tell you anything. His K rate and BABIP were the culprits. I would rather talk about those.

        Marwin is the kind of player that every GM looks for, an offcast from another team they could probably have for 4 million, that might take over 2B or 3B for a team and give them 20HR while hitting .265-.270 and playing stopgap until something else comes along. I could even see a bottom half franchise giving him SS and dealing with the lack of range given that he isn’t going to hit .210 with no power.

        I agree that on a team where that talent level is rising that he can easily price himself out of town if he has another subpar year.

        To steal a line from Edwin Starr –

        War, huh, yeah
        What is it good for
        Absolutely nothing
        War, huh, yeah
        What is it good for
        Absolutely nothing
        Say it again, why’all.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s going to help that we have 5 new guys who know nothing of a curse the Rangers have on us. They’re eager to re-write a new script. The mystique will be lifted this year, I think everyone senses it!

    Having said that, I was pretty haggard after watching the late innings of the game today. Our pitching was terrible (nobody who was going to make the team anyway), and was kinda disappointed with Gustave. The limited inning he pitched today, he had a shot at going lights out again.. Davis missed a few hard liners hit right at him. Just random thoughts. I didn’t get to see Morton. Moran’s hitting but his drawback is slow slow as molasses around the bases yikes!

    Yeah, I think Marwin is out by next season. There’s barely room for Gurriel if Reed hits .300. Ok, big IF but still – that’s Kemp, White, Moran and Reed that Marwin has to go through. To say nothing of the guys pushing in low-A, and our draft.

    I wish Venezuela gets knocked out so Altuve comes home! Stayed up late last night to see Mexico beat ’em, only to find out they’re still in😕

    On the other side, here’s an off topic question: who are you rooting for in a championship game between US v Puerto Rico, while Gregerson is in to save vs Correa?! Lol!


  4. I respect what the Rangers have done these past 2 seasons and I love the passion Banister brings as a manager, but I think we will finally see the regression that has been expected these past 2 seasons. I don’t think they have enough depth to overcome the injuries they will have this season. I see the Rangers finishing near .500, but they could even finish lower if Daniels does the right thing at the deadline and sells off to help restock their depleted farm system. Of course, if they are still in it at the deadline they may add to the team, but they don’t have the assets to make the trades they made last year. However, if they’re 8-10 games back at the deadline Daniels will probably sell off and look to reload for 2018.


  5. I personally have no respect for anyone on that team except Beltre. He’s a very good player that every guy in MLB has respect for. I despise their manager…..and the resident thug playing 2nd base is just that, a THUG. So please spare me.
    My opinion only….so take it as just that. No loss for Chapman, he probably knew it ws coming.


  6. My biggest hope is the Astros beat the crap out of the Rangers this year and make them look as foolish as they’ve made our team look since joining them in the American League.
    I don’t have any ill feelings towards the rest of the AL West but I despise the Rangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As another pointy headed engineer I have to admire Sig for taking what could cause him some embarrassment but which should help him be a better employee.
      The piece on fungo hitting made me flash back to the old Astrodome days when at the end of batting and fielding practice a coach would inevitably attempt to hit one that would touch the roof.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. https://mobile.twitter.com/astros/status/841635056665927687?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    .130 .200 .130
    Reddick hitting No. 3 today. In 23 AB’s it’s about time to start showing what you’re made of!

    Same goes for Jake…

    I’d also like to see guys like Reed keep starting if they earn it, but Hinch seems in the mode to get players ready for the season. My question re: Jake is why are we thinking he’s going to play a bigger role than just late-inning replacement? Hinch/FO way overvalue him. I mean, just give me 250 Marisnick,…something to hang hat on.

    More of what I mentioned in the Winter about contact hitting. Gurriel White Moran and Kemp are proving it with only a few strikeouts per at-bats. But not ol Jake 13 for 33 in strikeouts. And it’s Spring pitching!!


  8. Watching Japan play baseball makes me realize how comparatively clueless & dispassionate American fans are. Their Nat’l team is a veritable All-Star squad, and every man woman child in the building knows all of the words in song (chants and clapping) of each individual player while at bat! Wish it would catch on like this in Houston..


      • The commentators mentioned Wrigley specifically saying it was close, but these fans have sustained it as a group in unison. Well, it’s impressive. Hope to build on some Astros tradition of winning – maybe that will enlighten the average fan to our future stars..

        I’m going to watch the Rangers game at 3 to do some scouting.


  9. I’m using the Rangers’ website for depth chart info:
    LF-They list Profar as their top left fielder. They also list him as the #2 3B, #2 SS and their #2 2B. That could be a problem over a 162 game season with a lot of older players in their lineup.
    CF- Gomez is Gomez. A perfect CFer for the Texas Rangers, with DDJ as his backup. This is a personality love fest for me.
    Mazara is listed as their RFer, and their backup LFer. Not a great fielder, at this time, but he can hit.
    3B- Adrian Beltre, HOFer but is 38 years old.
    SS- Andrus, a decent player with a star’s contract.
    2B-Odor- A player who the Oakland A’s pitching staff figured out, as every at bat vs them ought to be watched by the Astros’ pitching coaches and staff.
    1B- Napoli who is coming off a career year with the Indians, who had a career year themselves. Napoli is 34 and does not hit RHP as well as LHP, so the Astros have that covered with all of their RHP.
    DH- Choo- A hamstring fixing to pull while sitting on the bench and then running the bases. Not a good fielder.
    This team can hit.
    Hamels- Why has he pitched only .1 inning with a 108.00 ERA this spring? Am I missing something?
    Darvish- a 30 year old pitcher who has thrown six different pitches throughout his career. How old is that arm?
    Perez- is he the pitcher we saw last season? Is Charlie Morton the pitcher we saw last year? Those seem like fair questions
    Griffin- Advanced metrics hate AJ Giffin for 2017 and ERA combined with a very unsustainable BABIP does not look great to the old eye either. Maybe he’ll get constantly bailed out by his team again this season.
    Fangraphs likes our bullpen over the Ranger’s bullpen. Of course, Fangraphs doesn’t have Fiers listed in our bullpen either, so there is that.


    • Yu Darvish threw 332.1 innings across 67 appearances in his High School career.

      Age – Innings
      18 – 94.1
      19 – 149.2
      20 – 207.2
      21 – 200.2
      22 – 182.0
      23 – 202.0
      24 – 232.0
      25 – 191.1 (TEX)
      26 – 209.2 (TEX)
      27 – 144.1 (TEX)

      In other words, OUCH.


  10. Position by position comparison [my opinion only]:

    1B – Astros have Gurriel; Rangers have Rua [toss up]
    2B – Astros have Altuve; Rangers have Odor [advantage Astros]
    SS – Astros have Correa; Rangers have Andrus [advantage Astros]
    3B – Astros have Bregman; Rangers have Beltre [advantage Rangers]
    DH – Astros have Beltran; Rangers have Napoli/Choo [advantage Astros]
    C – Astros have McCann/Gattis; Rangers have Lucroy/Chirinos [advantage TX]
    RF – Astros have Reddick; Rangers have Mazara [slight advantage Astros]
    CF – Astros have Springer; Rangers have Gomez [advantage Astros]
    LF – Astros have Aoki/Marisnick; Rangers have Profar [advantage Rangers]

    SP1 – Astros have Keuchel; Rangers have Hamels [toss up leans to TX]
    SP2 – Astros have McCullers; Rangers have Darvish [toss up leans to HOU]
    SP3 – Astros have McHugh; Rangers have Perez [arguable; I say advantage TX]
    SP4 – Astros have Morton; Rangers have Griffin [unknown; I say advantage HOU]
    SP5 – Astros have Musgrove/Fiers; Rangers have Tyson Ross [arguable; I say advantage TX]

    Set-up man: Astros have Harris/Gregerson; Rangers have Bush/Jeffres [toss up]
    Closer: Astros have Giles; Rangers have Dyson [toss up].

    This series should be tough once again; neither team should dominate. Unless, of course, one does.


    • I would give top of the rotation to a slight edge Rangers, bottom half, slight edge Houston.

      The Astros have more upside in their rotation, but if Darvish and Hamels both have seasons they are capable of we probably won’t match it. The key is can Perez take another step and can they hold it waiting on some of their injured players to return.

      I’m concerned more with how we match up then I am a position by position. Our staff last year was soft against power hitting teams – we just didn’t have the guns. The Rangers have more than a few power guys and we couldn’t answer them in either our rotation or BP. This year we can match up better if we get McCullers all year, Musgrove in the rotation, and I feel like Morton will match up better against their lineup than Fiers. If Keuchel’s velocity is back he should fare better. McHugh will probably not do well against them again, but hopefully it works out last year and he doesn’t see them that much. I just think our rotation is setup better against Texas then it was last year.

      I also think our hitters are better setup to face their pitching. We still have some swing and miss guys, but we have less of them, and outside of Darvish and Hamels the Rangers are looking at having a rotation that doesn’t strike out a lot of people. I think for hitters like Beltran and Reddick those matchups are a little better.

      I expect that we greatly improve on that head to head record, and won’t be surprised if we actually win the head to head. I think Darvish still gives us fits, but he has spent the better part of 3 years hurt more than not.


  11. We don’t go head-to-head with Texas until May 1.
    The harder part of the schedules of the two teams in April are:

    Rangers: 3 vs. Indians, 6 vs. Angels, and 3 vs. Mariners;
    Astros: 3 vs. Indians, 4 vs. Angels, and 7 vs. Mariners.

    Both teams look to have a hard May – with their June being a little worse [Astros, Indians, Mets, Nationals, Mariners, Blue Jays and Yanks, while we’re playing several games vs. Oakland and KC].

    Based on that, it looks like our early schedule is a little tougher theirs. If we can manage do well in April, and then beat the Rangers 3 of 4 at home May 1 – 4, we should have a leg up – and feel like we can finally overcome the “Ranger! Ranger! Will Robinson!” Curse. If we don’t manage to do either, we will be having to dig ourselves out of a deep hole again all year this year like we did last.


  12. Here is an old baseball story about the Rangers. Back in mid-70’s and the owner was Brad Corbett, Billy Martin was the manager. Corbett made his money selling plastic pipe. Corbett signed an aging Willie Davis. The three go out to eat at a restaurant. Corbett tell Davis he will be playing this position, he will be batting in this spot, he will be doing this and that. After about 10 minutes Martin interrupted and said “And by the way, I can get you a great deal on PVC pipe.”

    Liked by 1 person

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