The Rangers won 92 games in 2013, and they still missed the post season by one game. If they would have won 93, they would have been in. It was a disappointing ending to what was otherwise a halfway decent season for the Rangers. Even so, I have picked out five things that, I believe, if the Rangers do better in 2014, they will make the post season. I have listed them below for your reading pleasure.
1. Stay Healthy. Now this one is already off to a bad start with the Derek Holland knee injury, but that aside, the rest of the team needs to remain much more healthy than they did in 2013. We had injuries to Alexi Ogando multiple times, Matt Harrison, Adrian Beltre had a hamstring issue, Mitch Moreland had a DL stint, Yu Darvish missed a couple of starts, they just seemed to never be able to get ahead in the injury department. Harrison is supposed to be back to full strength, and to me he is the key for this team now that Holland will miss extensive time. I feel like Matt needs to have a great season. If the Rangers would have been more healthy, I think they would have competed for the division last season, and this seasons team (on paper) is better than last seasons team.
2. Score More for Yu. Darvish only gave up 66 earned runs in 2013, which amounts to just over two runs per game, yet he was on the losing end of nine games. We all know that he lost several games (I believe four total) 1-0, and a few more 2-1 or 3-1. It seems like the Rangers had their worst games while Yu was on the mound. Now I do understand that usually the Rangers were facing the Felix Hernandez and Jeff Weavers of the world when Darvish was on the mound, but I still think they should be able to squeak some more runs across for Yu in 2014. Especially with the new additions to the offense.
3. Commit Fewer Errors. It’s not like the Rangers went overboard with errors last season, but that they seemed to come at critical times in games. The Rangers need to hang on to the ball or make the smart throw instead of committing the error. This one may be tough to improve on with a very young Jurickson Profar taking over the second base duties, so it will be up to Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder to try to keep their errors to a minimum. This one may be unrealistic, but it is something that the Rangers could definitely improve on.
4. Hit the Long Ball. I am not saying the Rangers need to count on the long ball like they did years ago when they couldn’t pitch, but a few more wouldn’t hurt. The Rangers hit 157 long balls in 2013. That is ten under the league average. I would expect a team with Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder on it to be able to be above average in that department, and so I think this is an area that the Rangers can improve on for the 2014 season.
5. Walks. This is an area that Shin-soo Choo should be able to help the Rangers with instantly upon his arrival. The Rangers walked 462 times in 2013, only 55 time more than the worst walking team in the American League. The league average was 502. It’s really a simple observation, having more people on base usually translates to more runs, and more runs usually translates to wins. It doesnt always work, but that stats say it usually does. If the Rangers can get more men on by the walk or by the home-run, then they should be able to score more, giving them that wins they need to advance to the post season once again.
So those are my five keys to returning to the post season. What did I miss? Or where am I wrong? Comments always welcome.