AL West rivals: Texas Rangers
Over the next couple of weeks, we will take a look at each of the Astros AL West rivals and finally a microscopic look back on to our own Astros. Today we continue the topic with the Texas Rangers. We will include some stats from 2019 and 2020 since 2020 was such an odd wad season.
- Last Playoff season – 2016 (Swept by Toronto Blue Jays in ALDS)
- Last Playoff winning series – 2011 (Over Detroit Tigers in ALCS)
- Lost consecutive WS – In 2010 to the Giants and 2011 to the Cards
- 2019 Record – 78-84 3rd place in the AL West – 29 games back / 45-36 at home / 33-48 on road / 25-21 one run games / 7-6 extra inning games – They were 6-13 against the Astros
- Hitting – 5.00 runs/game (6th in AL) / .248 BA (9th) / .319 OBP (7th) / .750 OPS (8th) / 223 HRs (T-8th)
- Pitching – 5.42 runs/game (12th in AL) / 1.459 WHIP (14th) / 33 saves (T-9th) – Starters – 5.37 ERA (12th) / Relievers – 4.73 ERA (11th)
- 2020 Record – 22-38 5th place in the AL West – 14 games back / 16-14 at home / 6-24 on road / 7-6 one run games / 2-2 extra inning games -They were 5-5 against the Astros
- Hitting – 3.73 runs/game (15th in AL) / .217 BA (15th) / .285 OBP (15th) / .648 OPS (15th) / 62 HRs (13th)
- Pitching – 5.20 runs / game (11th) / 1.384 WHIP (12th) / 10 saves (15th) – Starters – 5.32 ERA (12th) / Relievers – 4.63 (11th)
The Rangers were below average in 2019, but they were very bad in all phases of the game in 2020. Like the Astros, their offense fell in 2020, but in their case, it became the worst offense across the board in the American League. Their pitching was bad in 2019 and bad in 2020. They looked to need a re-build, but they really just did some tweaking this off-season.
In 2019 their offense was good, especially in scoring (6th in the AL) and it fell to last in 2020. Hunter Pence, who had given them a very good ½ year was gone. In 2020, Joey Gallo (no surprise), Roughned Odor, Elvis Andrus, Willy Calhoun and the catching pair of Jeff Mathis and Robinson Chirinos were all below the Mendoza line as was Danny Santana, who was a surprise contributor in 2019. Even steady Eddie, Shin-Soo Choo fell off.
Choo left in free agency. The Rangers traded Andrus, who they were replacing at SS by young Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, to Oakland for Khris Davis and other parts including prospect C Jonah Heim. Davis is in the OF/ DH mix with Gallo, Calhoun, Leody Taveras and David Dahl. Dahl was signed as a free agent out of Colorado where he had been an All Star in 2019 and a bad player in 2020. They picked up Nate Lowe and put him in front of Ronald Guzman on the depth chart at 1B. They moved Odor to 3B (Kiner-Falefa’s old spot) and gave the catcher spot to Jose Trevino who was decent in a limited time in 2019.
Overall, offensively the Rangers seem to be relying on a lot of guys improving in 2021. But even if they do, that it is hard to see this offense being anything above mediocre.
The Rangers starting pitching has been a weakness lately and their answer was to take their best pitcher, Lance Lynn and trade him. Well, Lynn was entering the last year on his contract and they received back pitcher Dane Dunning from the White Sox, who had a nice cameo in his MLB debut after a strong run through the minors. In what looks like a smart move, the Rangers signed 28-year-old hurler Kohei Arihara one of the top starting pitchers out of Japan. The Rangers also signed former Astro Mike Foltynewicz, who was an All Star in 2018, a so-so pitcher in 2019 and injured in 2020. They are trying to match up those three with Kyle Gibson, who has also been so-so and former Astro Jordan Lyles, who has been so bad to make up their new rotation. Again, this might be a better rotation, but hard to see it more than a below-average group.
The Rangers bullpen has been consistent. Consistently bad in the last few years. Former closer Jose Leclerc will be taking back the 9th inning spot from Rafael Montero, who was traded in the off-season. Brett Martin, Demarcus Evans and Joely Rodriguez, who were all very good in small samples in 2020 are back looking for more significant innings. The Rangers signed Ian Kennedy, who was excellent out of the pen in KC in 2019 and not so much in 2020. Matt Bush who has pitched only 8 innings (in the minors) since 2018 is also in the mix.
The bullpen could be improved, especially if Kennedy is back to his good self in 2021. But again, that may just get them up to the middle of the road.
2021 Prediction: 70-92 and fifth in the AL West
If everything breaks their way the Rangers could get closer to .500, but rarely does everything break a teams’ way.