Astros’ division rival: 2018 Texas Rangers

This is a look at the Astros divisional rivals heading into the 2018 season. Today we look at the Texas Rangers.

2017 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.

Starting Rotation

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.

Relief Pitching

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.


74 comments on “Astros’ division rival: 2018 Texas Rangers

  1. A couple corrections from Diane

    – Under Summary of 2017 “The Rangers combined an above average offense, a middle of the road offense….” should say middle of the road starting pitching.
    – Title 2018 Angels offense should say 2018 Rangers offense

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know folks wanted me to write about the other team’s in the division, but apparently nobody really wants to comment on it. Maybe I should have predicted 100 wins and seen the comment box blow up….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. -Matt Bush was the closer. Then he was going to be a starter. Now, he’s just a guy.
    -Tim Lincecum might be their closer when he comes off the DL?
    -Reliever Mike Minor is a starter?
    -Adrian Beltre is their glue? At 38, if he’s healthy?
    -Their ace lost more than a MPH on every pitch he threw last year and is now 34?
    -They have four lefties in their rotation and face the Astros RH hitting machine 19 times?
    -Joey Gallo is Chris Carter.
    – Odor stinks.
    – DDJ is their best outfielder?
    -Their best offseason move was to release Bartolo Colon.
    -They were devastated to not sign a Japanese minor leaguer.
    – They can’t give away tickets.
    – One of their beat writers for a newspaper described Gerritt Cole as a “Pirate castoff”
    – Nomar Mazara doesn’t deserve any of this
    -Jeff Bannister does.
    -I think they just might be the worst team in the division.
    -Willy Calhoun is not only their best prospect, he’s pretty much their only prospect.
    I can’t talk any more about this team. I cannot stand them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So you think the 90 losses is pretty optimistic……
      OP what is your prediction on the Astros – Ranger head to head this season – I am thinking about 13-6 Astros and I may be a pessimist

      Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, based on talent, I think it should be 14-5. But beating the Astros is the only thing the Rangers have this season and I think they will play the Astro tough and they will lay down for everybody else.
        If the Astros can go into Arlington on opening day and lay a whuppin’ on them right off the bat against the only sellout crowd of the year for Texas, I think they could suck the life out of the Rangers.


  4. All I know is that when I look at the aging roster, the possibility of an entire pitching staff imploding and a real shortage of talent in the system, I’m glad I’m not a Ranger fan or Jon Daniels.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Off the subject – saw where Dusty Baker has been hired as a special advisor for the Giants. Is he going to advise them on how to run their young pitchers into the ground?


    • Dan, I went and looked at the Giants payroll situation for the next few years, hoping to see something that could make a difference for them.
      They are a mess!


  6. hey dan. good post. on the angels i see them as no more than a break even team. with good luck and the many games against the rangers, they could poke their nose above break even. the rangers seem to me to be in disarray. they seem to play us well regardless, but we absolutely on paper should run them out of town. it would be very nice to put them 2 or 4 games back after the first series.


  7. Dan, maybe somebody would love to have Peacock and McHugh and I guess if somebody came to the Astros with a really good deal, they would likely listen to it. Yet, as you indicated some reporter is trying to “stir the pot” with any kind of rumors that they can perpetuate. Probably bought on because the Astros have two guys in the BP that could be starters for another team. An enviable position to be in to say the least.


  8. Dan, do you remember the post a few weeks back about superstition?

    Hey, before ST started I jokingly said something about the Astros’ competition in 2018 certainly not including the Marlins. The Fish promptly wiped up the field with our heroes this spring, totally humiliating Charlie Morton. Lesson learned. So when it comes to the Rangers, I ain’t sayin’ nothin’!


      • The yellow rogues of Texas?

        The flies of Texas are upon you?

        All my hexes fall on Texas?

        Arlington oh Arlington – we still hear your big mouths flappin’; while once again, your got caught nappin’; your dreams of Babe Ruth didn’t happen, and now your’re done . . . in Arlington!

        Liked by 4 people

      • Or how about:

        ‘Strangers in a Plight’?

        ‘I [Don’t] Wanna Be an Airhead Ranger?’

        ‘Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Field’ [Well, they do have an Odor!]

        Liked by 3 people

    • Don’t believe in jinxing anymore. If I did not jinx them last season with all the playoff predictions as we went along then it does not exist.


  9. I’m just sayin :
    – After raking in $103+million in his career, Maybe Jose Bautista should go be with his family.
    – Jon Morosi may be right about McHugh, but my guess is that he is throwing it out there.
    – I would not be surprised if Brad Peacock is a late inning reliever for the Astros by September, and not a starter for the Giants. The Giants have one prospect in their entire organization with a rating of 55 and he is an 18 year old outfielder. Who in the world would they trade to the Astros for a starting pitcher? The Giants and aging, expensive stars are a perfect match.
    – I’m did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I will predict Yuli Gurriel will be on the field on April 3rd to get his ring. That’s 5.4 weeks since his injury.
    -Where the heck is Corbin Martin?
    -Minor league baseball! The Fresno Grizzlies start the season playing 19 games in a row before their first off-day. Twelve, mind you, twelve of those 19 games are against one team: Reno.
    -Explain it to me. Smaller, athleic catchers who are quick and have a good arm are not as highly thought of as big, lumbering catchers. I thought this was the new age of baseball. When Stassi made that incredible diving catch the other day, could you see any big, lumbering guy doing that? Oh, and if blocking and pitch framing are the new norms for catching(or actually fielding throws from fielders and tagging runners out in the playoffs) what do big, slow guys have over quick and nimble guys?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point about the catchers. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the season Stassi is at the very least platooning with McCann.


      • I believe Stassi will be platooning with Stubbs by the end of the regular season while McCann rests up for the playoffs. After all, Stubbs has to be added to the 40-man this fall or he will be a rule 5 casualty. I expect him to get a call up in September and help keep McCann and Gattis fresh.


    • Good point on Stassi. When he’s behind the plate, we’ve got athletic guys at every position, although Yuli is somewhat of an aging athletic guy. How many teams have a more athletic guy at third? How many teams cover more ground in the outfield? Any club have a better pair of guys to turn two? No. It’s got to be by design. That’s why it’s hard to imagine McCann back next year. And it’s plausible that our catcher position becomes more athletic even this year.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I’ll attack this from the ‘four lefties in the rotation’ angle.

    Last year Altuve slashed .353/.416/.977 vs. lefties. Other than that:
    Correa was .391/.457/1.066
    Bregman was .331/.404/.974
    Reddick was .315/.360/.762
    Springer was .301/.423/.972
    Marisnick was .266/.349/.817
    Gurriel was .252/.300/.695
    Marwin was .250/.328/.795
    Gattis was .241/.280/.728
    Fisher was .241/.333/.643
    McCann was .227/.324/.736
    Davis was .217/.308/.960 in limited action
    Stassi was .167/.231/.731 in very limited action

    While we aren’t likely to get much help from DH against the Rangers’ lefties, the rest of our guys should be putting together some major offense.


  11. Well, I’ll take a mulligan on the ‘major offense’ against lefties thing. This barely #5 starter on a less than stellar staff is making our hitters look pretty terrible.


  12. Remember when Jon Daniels had dinner with Yu but admitted he had no money to sign him? Honestly, I don’t see where this team is headed (and don’t care). It would appear that when they booted Nolan out and handed the reins to Daniels, it was a major mistake. They may play .500 ball once in the next 3 seasons, and it should get Bannister – Manager of the Year (if he is still with the club).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Plus they are giving Odor “Altuve Old Contract type money.” And paying Prince Fielder for three more years around $20 million each year. AND they paid Napoli $2.5 million to go away. That’s ignoring Choo and others that are grossly overpaid.

      One site says they have $140 million in contracts this year for this last place team. And $82 million in 2019. AND $73 million in 2020.


  13. I guess that everyone saw the note from the Astros they are NOT signing Jose Bautista. Later on in the article it was noted that DanP will NOT be working in their Communications Bureau, Chip will NOT be doing the color on the radio broadcasts, and Mr.Bill will NOT be asked to provide any music of any kind during the 7th inning stretch EVER.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Astrocolt45..LOL!! You are too funny! I think I’ve let everyone on this blog my feelings about that other team in Texas. They have a GM who is so disliked and a manager who has absolute HATE for our guys like I’ve never seen before.
    It’s not “if” he’s gonna start a fight, it’s what inning is he going to do it.
    That guy is one step from losing it everytime we play them…and his crappy attitude has infected everyone on that team. I really like Beltre, he is one of the best third baseman ever to play baseball. I have a lot of respect for him. The rest of them are total jerks….especially the little kid with big ears whose name is how he smells. I hate to use the word hate……but I literally *hate* that team.
    Everyone has been trying to tie us with them as a rivalry, but I think our rivalry are the A’s, and the Angels. The arlington little league isn’t even in the same zip code as those West coast teams are! Becky⚾

    Liked by 2 people

    • Along Came Ted

      I plopped down in my easy chair to watch my orange and blue.
      I saw some jerk who warn’t no Christian put the bad guys up by two.
      All our starting nine could muster was a single stinkin’ run,
      Then A.J. called for their replacements and it looked like we were done.

      But then along came Ted.
      Tall, thin Ted.
      Smoothe strokin’ Ted; no chokin’ Ted.
      Along came longly lanky Ted!

      Liked by 3 people

  15. I know this is all in good fun, but I cringe when we mention Ted and Tucker in the same breath. It’s not fair today. Let’s wait five years!

    I’ll say this though. I love a grand slam, even if iit comes in an exhibition game against a double AA pitcher. What I like even more is the way young Mr. Tucker hits the ball out of the park with the bases loaded, politely sets the bat aside and makes his way around the bases at a steady pace, zero theatrics. He knows where he’s going.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll tell you who is cringing…folks trying to catch the Astros and looking at a terrific young player that will likely add to their riches in the next season time frame. Yes, not fair to call anyone Ted – a once in a lifetime talent, but if they get another team controlled solid major league talent, who could grow into an All Star…man that would be amazing.


      • Imagine Luhnow figuring out a way to keep all four of the guys we keep taking about and then having a productive Tucker in the same liine up?


  16. I was reading on the Astros mlb page and the article was about employing the shift to have 3 infielders on the right side and 4 outfielders. I know that some teams employ this or similar when Brian McCann or Reddick is batting. What I’m perplexed about is that why doesn’t the batter chose to just poke one to the left side of the infield. A hit is a hit isn’t it? Why try to pull a ball and hit it right into the shift.
    When I was about 7 or 8 I played t-ball league and because I was left handed everybody would shift to the right. I’d simply just try to hit it down the left field line. I got a lot of hits that way. I wasn’t really very good but it was fun to just get on base. Don’t understand why more players don’t do it with the over-emphasized shifts being employed these days.
    Depending on when we see Tucker on the roster his “time clock” will start ticking. I suspect this will be next year because you can’t keep a guy like him out of the line up too long. He appears to be a rare and extremely talented player and we sure don’t want to waste that. We’ll probably see him with the September call ups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will say Super 2 for the guy they’ve called Ted for years now. There is already clamoring about his clock manipulation, the same as for Pence LMJ Springer Correa.

      And something that the shift does that nobody ever comments on. First of all, teams are bunting and dinking the ball to the open area against us already. But here’s what we’re doing psychologically — taking away the hitter’s more powerful weapon if he has to slow his swing, or try to hit to a least favorite side. If a team only has two or theee power hitters, we take that away by baiting them into shift buster hits.

      Couple that with control pitchers who are deliberately setting up to a certain half of the plate the fielders are shaded, you have a formidable defense and progressive FO who is farther ahead of the hitters. It’s a surgical approach to beating opponents.


      • I just read this, which confirms the Astros method behind madness.

        “There’s a psychological part of this on the hitter that I’m looking at, too,” Hinch said. “How much does it mess with the psyche of the hitter? And I’ve watched, this spring, guys try to change their swing and try to hit the ball the other way and hit the ball to a gap. That’s largely advantage to us when big hitters like that do that.”


  17. Kyle Tucker has hit .300 only in his short time at Lancaster.
    Every other place he has played he has not hit for huge numbers.
    Springer, Correa, Altuve and Bregman hit for big numbers in the minor leagues before being called up to an Astros team that was not great.
    Why don’t we give Tucker a chance to tear up the minor leagues before we bring him up to a world champion team. While we wait for him, we get to see if Derek Fisher has what it takes to be a major league outfielder. Fisher has earned his chance, let’s let Tucker earn his. I want to see Tucker rake in the upper minors before I push Derek Fisher out to the curb.
    I’m pretty content with the idea that AJ Hinch wants to see Tucker do some things better.


    • Agree, OP1. But the guy I wouldn’t be surprised if the odd man out if Tucker does just what you said this year is Marisnick instead of Fisher. Fisher doesn’t have to hit better than Tucker – he just has to hit better than Marisnick.


    • At 20 yrs old Tucker hit .288/.379/.932 at Buies Creek (A+ ball) and less at AA
      At 20 yrs old – Springer was a season away from playing his first 8 minor league games at A- ball
      At 20 yrs old Altuve hit .276/.333/.790 at A+ Lancaster
      At 20 years old – Correa tore up AA ball and then hit .276/.345/.794 at Fresno before making it to the bigs.
      I think Tucker is not some inferior guy to these others. I have no problem waiting a bit for him, but if LF between MarGo and Fisher is not going well after a couple months it is nice to know there is an option.


    • Without a doubt, no rush on Tucker. Let’s let him dominate AAA first. And if Fisher hits, that’s a good problem to have. Tucker can and will wait, unless maybe he’s hitting the heck out of the ball and Springer or Reddick go down. I also do not see Jake being an odd man out this year because he does things Fisher will never do. Jake is another valuable piece that we did not have in the post season last year. He’ll help.


  18. The ‘gameday’ lineup for the Astros shows three guys starting at 3B for us today – Bregman, Davis, and White. No firstbaseman [pitcher covers?]. No DH. Now that is an EXTREME SHIFT!


    • And just to complete the shift, gameday’s lineup sheet has two Astros in CF – Springer and Marisnick. Since we are putting all our eggs on the 3rd base side, we apparently don’t need no stinkin’ RF!


  19. Spring has sprung. Nice finish by Morton, Correa, and Armenteros. But 0-3 with two strikeouts means the gild is off the lily for young Tucker [NOT!]


  20. How did some of our up-state adversaries do this spring?

    DeShields hit .350 [21 hits to lead the club; 4 of 6 in steals]
    Andrus hit .432 [led all offensive categories except HR and RBI]
    Centeno hit .333
    Beltre hit .323
    Mazara hit .321
    Choo hit .304
    Gallo hit .255 [5 HRs to lead the club]
    Rua hit .242 [13 RBIs to lead the club]
    Chirinos hit .219
    Odor hit .200

    Hamels had a 4.15 ERA with a 1.62 WHIP [10 Ks in 13 IP]
    Fister had a 5.84 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP [8 Ks in 12.1 IP]
    Matt Moore had a 9.00 ERA with a 2.25 WHIP [12 Ks in 12 IP]


  21. Dan, I think your Rangers record prediction is not too far off, but they will finish last in the AL West. This is a team that is in need of an overhaul from the farm system up to the major league team. The good thing for the Astros is 2 other teams in the AL West (Seattle and LAA) are facing the same dilemma. The A’s are going to be the only real threat to the Astros in the division, and I use the word ‘threat’ very loosely, for the next 3 years.

    By the way, did you see Jim Crane make a comment about how we owe some payback to the Rangers for not moving our series last September? Also, do you remember back in 2015 when the Astros had the slogan “Come and Take it” and when the Rangers clinched the division on the final day of the season they taunted the Astros by putting on their large jumbotron “We came and took it”. Well, I think the Rangers are going to regret that childish dig for many, many years. I also remember Crane recently saying “I am glad we were finally able to bring a World Series Championship to the state of Texas”. Yes, he meant to throw shade at the Rangers with that comment and I really like my owner having some big brass balls (pardon the terminology) and throwing some serious shade at our in-state division rival. You reap what you sow, Texas Rangers.

    Liked by 5 people

  22. Keeping it within the division:
    -AJ Puk’s loss to the Athletics is more devastating to them than almost any other injury. He is their version of Forrest Whitley and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Oakland lost a starter to TJ surgery too, Jharel Cotton is gone for the year.
    – The Rangers were rained out today and they are having so much trouble selling tickets that they will trade the preseason tickets held for today’s game for any regular season game other than opening day.
    -The Rangers finish the preseason with 8 wins and guys like Andrus and Beltre are not real happy with how this offseason has played out for their team.
    – The Angels doing their best fake news job pretending how happy they are with Shohei Ohtani’s spring training performance. Their manager just lies through his teeth befor going into his cell and punching a wall. When you look at Ohtani’s play and then listen to the team talk about his play, it’s like they are in two different universes.
    – The Mariners are quiet. They made a lot of moves, but right now a lot of their fans talk about the Mariners being in the Alamo with the Astros outside waiting for dawn.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Angels DFA’d former Astro catcher Carlos Perez to make room for Ohtani. Good chance Perez gets picked up by someone other team – I wonder about the Astros interest (though they are way down the pecking order).


  24. Talking strictly Astros:
    -Wouldn’t it be something if JD Davis turned into a good major league quality first baseman? How would that fit into the Astros future?
    -Jack Mayfield has a chance to make this club in the future as a utility infielder, but his fielding has always been shaky. He has to get better in the field. He committed 5 errors this spring.
    -Evan Gattis ends spring training with 10 walks and 8 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances. His OBP was .429.
    -The Astros will face three lefty starters against Texas, per ESPN.
    -Would Hercule Poirot be considered a Brussel sprout?
    -The worst thing that would be the result of the Whitley supension would be for him to try and make up ground when he returns and hurt himself. I hope he can come back and just be the pitcher he was turning into.
    -One of the most encouraging things I saw in ST was the bat of Josh Reddick.
    – Rogelio Armenteros pitches like a right handed Dallas Keuchel.
    -Odds that Max Stassi hits .250 this season. Would you settle for that if it were offered right now?
    -It would not surprise me if Brian McCann had a really good first month of the season.
    -Astros ticket sales are said to be at 115% compared to last season, the biggest jump in the majors, by far. The Astros are said to have jumped to #8 in ticket sales in the majors and that is a huge jump. The Astros were #15 in home attendance last season.


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