Despite Tuesday’s five run explosion, if five runs counts as an explosion, the Rangers offense has been dreadful this season. Runs have been so hard to come by that Ranger pitchers have needed to be almost perfect in order to give themselves a chance to win. They have answered the challenge well so far, Tuesday’s 5-0 win gave the Rangers a ML best four shutouts this year.
Still, the Rangers aren’t going to get this level of pitching all year. At some point, the offense is going to have to start producing runs. The question is, how?
Shin-Soo Choo was brought in at great expense to be the catalyst at the top of the order. So far, he has done a credible job, sporting a .429 OBP. Choo has almost as many walks (12) as he does hits (14). However, he also leads the team with 13 strikeouts and has only 3 extra base hits. While his numbers are solid he hasn’t really been the spark plug Ranger fans were expecting.
The other newcomer, Prince Fielder, has been an even bigger disappointment. Fielder finally managed to go yard Tuesday night, giving him a paltry .185 average and four RBI. By comparison, Kevin Kouzmanoff had three RBI Tuesday night, and he wasn’t even on the roster to begin the season. Hopefully, Fielder’s blast will get him going, because right now that Kinsler trade is looking like a loser.
The aforementioned Kouzmanoff has been, so far, one of the few bright spots for the Rangers. He’s slugging .750 and is second only to Alex Rios in RBIs despite having fewer than half the number of at-bats. Kooz has been a life saver replacing the injured Adrian Beltre, who was off to a nice start himself before his injury. If Kooz can keep raking like this, he may find himself a permanent DH once Beltre is able to come back. The Rangers could certainly use the help.
Catcher and second base have been positions that aren’t really pulling their weight, though to be honest the guys who were supposed to be holding down those positions are on the shelf right now. Josh Wilson has been the better offensive player than Donnie Murphy, but neither guy is the type to strike fear in opposing pitchers.
Catcher has been an unmitigated disaster. Who should actually be the starting catcher was addressed by Jenny Federici here and it’s hard to argue against Robinson Chirinos. At this point, instead of letting J.P. Arencibia hit, they should just go ahead and put an out on the board and move on. His batting average is so low, he couldn’t find the Mendoza Line with the Hubble telescope. That shouldn’t be a surprise. He entered the season a .212 career hitter. Again, neither of these guys were expected to be frontline starters, but Geovany Soto isn’t exactly Pudge Rodriguez either. This is exactly the reason why I had wanted the Rangers to pursue Brian McCann in the off-season.
Another young guy who has been disappointing is OF Michael Choice. Choice raised expectations with his huge spring, but it hasn’t translated yet at the big league level. Fifth OF Jim Adduci has barely seen the field, collecting a mere eight at-bats on the season. At this point, Adduci seems to be just taking up space on the roster while Choice looks overwhelmed at times. Add to that the fact that Rios and Leonys Marin have cooled off considerably after hot starts and the outfield has become a source of concern offensively. Be honest Ranger fans; PEDs or not, Nelson Cruz would sure look good in that line up right now, wouldn’t he?
Of course, it’s fairly easy to look at the Rangers and see where the problems are. It’s far more difficult to find solutions. Beltre’s return should help some, especially if Kouzmanoff can keep hitting. Hopes are high that Jurickson Profar will bring some excitement when he returns, but he has yet to prove that he can produce at this level, so it’s hard to pin much hope on him. The same could be said for also injured Engel Beltre.
Still, this team seems to be missing something right now. They lack a spark. They lack an emotional leader. This is where I think Ian Kinsler‘s absence is hurting the team the most. This is a team that doesn’t really seem to have an identity yet. If the Rangers are to ever start playing at a high level, they will need to develop one, and the sooner the better. So the question remains: who will spark the Rangers O? What do you think, Ranger fans?