This is a look at the Astros divisional rivals heading into the 2018 season. Today we look at the Texas Rangers.
- 78-84 Record (79-83 Pythagorean) – T-3rd Place in the AL West; 23 GB of Astros in AL West; 7 GB of Twins for 2nd Wild Card
- Offense – .244 BA (13th in AL) / .320 OBP (8th) / .750 OPS (6th) / 799 Runs (5th) / 237 HRs (3rd) / 113 SBs (2nd)
- Starting Pitching – 4.66 ERA (8th) / 1.35 WHIP (6th) / .257 BA against (6th) / .762 OPSA (6th) / 144 HR (11th worst) / 332 BB (12th most) / 640 K (15th)
- Relief Pitching – 4.76 ERA (14th) / 1.48 WHIP (14th) / 58% save % (15th) / .268 BAA (14th) / .781 OPSA (14th) / 70 HR (10th least) / 227 BB (4th most) / 467 k (14th)
Summary of 2017
The Rangers combined an above average offense, a middle of the road offense and one of the worst bullpens in the AL to a just below average season. Remember how the Rangers were an unsustainable 36-11 in one run games in 2016? Well they sustained a bad 13-24 in 2017. Remember how they owned the Astros 15-4 in 2016? The Astros made an eight game turnaround and owned the Rangers 12-7 in 2017. The Rangers are basically entering with minimal changes on the offensive side, but with big turnover in the starting rotation.
2018 Angels Offense
The Rangers scored the 5th most runs in the AL despite a poor team BA (.244) and the second most Ks in the AL. They rode high HRs and decent OBP/OPS numbers to an offense that will have a lot of the same names though many in new spots in 2018:
- Joey Gallo moves over from 3B to take the place of Mike Napoli at 1B, who is gone after a poor 2017 season. Gallo had good numbers (41 HRs, .869 OPS) mixed in with a bad .209 BA.
- Adrian Beltre was limited to 65 games at 3B due to injury last season, but they are hoping to have him fill the 3B hole for a lot more games with his great .312/.383/.915 slash.
- Beltre will no doubt also be the DH some of the time, but they will need Shin-Soo Choo to step up his game a bit – as his 22 HR / 78 RBIs were good, but not $20 million a year good.
- The Rangers want their youngsters 2B Roughned Odor (24 y.o.), OF Delino Deshields (25 y.o.) and OF Nomar Mazara (23 y.o.) to take the next step in their development.
- They have one of the better young shortstops in the majors in Elvis Andrus, who tallied 100 runs/20 HRs/88 RBIs in 2017 and who they are hoping will have even more pop next season.
- They are banking on a combination of Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson replacing Carlos Gomez. In truth they want Rua/Robinson to hold down the fort until prospect Willy Calhoun’s career clock gets to a certain point this season.
The Rangers rotation is to say the least in flux, even if you ignore them losing their ace Yu Darvish at the trade deadline and would seem to be getting by on a wing and a few prayers. Here’s what it looks like:
- Cole Hamels is the ace. The Ace was a good 11-6 in 2017 with a so-so 4.20 ERA.
- Doug Fister‘s ERA the last four years with 3 different teams has progressed as follows – 2.41 / 4.19 / 4.64 /4.88, which does not bode well for the 34 y.o. in 2018.
- Matt Moore – Assuming this is the guy who pitched for the Giants in 2017 and not the NFL backup QB, his good (31 starts) was overwhelmed by his bad and ugly (6-15, 5.52 ERA, 1.532 WHIP).
- Mike Minor – Minor looked like he was going to be the next great Braves starting pitcher, but injuries ate up all of his 2015 and 2016 seasons. He pitched great in 2017 for the Royals….out of the bullpen. Can he be as successful and more important healthy in 2018, pitching every 5 days?
- Martin Perez was durable in 2017 with shaky numbers outside his 13-12 record (4.82 ERA / 1.532 WHIP). He is coming back from a broken elbow and will supposedly be ready to go the first week in April.
- Tim Lincecum was signed but is starting the season on the DL. Bartolo Colon was signed but released. Jesse Chavez, who pitched poorly for the Angels in 2017 is also sniffing around. The Rangers are going to have to dip a little into their prospect pond for additional help this season.
The Rangers had a bad bullpen in 2017 and frankly did not do too much to improve it other than the Lincecum pickup and perhaps using Chavez there to help.
- The closer to start the season is Alex Claudio who had a very good 2017 (4-2, 2.50 ERA. 11 saves). Lincecum might be closer in waiting.
- Matt Bush was good last season, putting up a 3-4, .3.79 ERA with 10 saves and Keone Kela was better – 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA.
- The Rangers need a full season out of Jake Diekman, who has been a serviceable left hand option, but only pitched in 11 games in 2017 before losing the rest of the season to an injury.
- Other bullpen options are Tony Barnette who was bad in 2017 and Jose Leclerc who was just ok.
Predictions for the 2018 Rangers
The Rangers could be in big trouble in 2018. Their offense should be decent unless father time catches up with Mr. Beltre, but their starting rotation could dig them big holes along the way. Their bullpen could be better, but it is not going to be a top bullpen that is for sure.
2018 Prediction – 72-90 – 4th place in the AL West and sitting at home again.