Looking back at the Texas Rangers horrible season it’s easy to find places where to lay blame. The team used 64 different players, 33 pitchers, 33 rookies and used the disabled list 25 times. Those numbers alone were a huge part of the team’s last place record of 67-95 and a season everyone wishes to quickly forget.
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If things were just a bit different this season, would have Rangers have finished closer to the top or maybe even been in the playoffs? Let’s take a closer look at that and imagine how things would have been different if these 5 players were not injured and/or played up to their expectations.
We miss Choo: The Texas Rangers signed free-agent Shin-Soo Choo, who they thought would be an on base machine. Last season Choo tore up the National League with an on-base percentage of .423. He’s had a history of being near the top of league for the past several years. But, his numbers took a sharp decline, including a drop in his on-base percentage down to .340. The Rangers wanted him to their lead off man who would get on base and get on base often. If he would have been able to get on base more often and not miss as much of the season as he did the Rangers would have probably scored more runs, which might have turned into more wins. Maybe if Choo was healthy and repeated his 2013 numbers maybe that would have given the Texas Rangers 6 more wins.
Abraham Lincoln: Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus spent the winter growing an awesome Lincoln beard instead of playing winter ball. It was the first time in his career that he didn’t play off season ball and it was evident when the season started. He was a bit off his rhythm with his defense and offense. His batting line compared to last season was about the same, but it was a bit lower at .263 /.314/ .333/ .647. What hurt was a drop in RBI from 67 to 41, drop in stolen bases from 42 to 27 and being caught stealing a league record of 15. His defensive WAR was a 2.0 last season and was a -0.4 this year. If the Texas Rangers were able to get the same Andrus and the one they paid big bucks to maybe that would have helped add 7 more wins this season.
Bad Harry Back: The Texas Rangers really needed starting pitching this season. Matt Harrison was supposed to be the one who would make his comeback this season after back surgery. But, things started to look worrisome during spring training with bed issues. There were several games during spring training and his rehab assignments that suggested the road to recovery would be tough. After just a few games Harrison was done for the season and maybe it was a sign of what was to come. Harrison was one of the best pitchers the Rangers had during their 2 World Series appearances and could have used it again this season. Maybe if they were able to have Harrison do what Colby Lewis did then they would have won 3 more games this season.
Playing without a Fielder: Prince Fielder was supposed to be the answer to the hole in the lineup. At least when it came to a power hitter. Without Fielder in the lineup that left Adrian Beltre exposed and almost no other power hitter in the lineup. For the season the Texas Rangers only had 111 home runs as team. Many expected Fielder to enjoy hitting home runs over and over again to the home run porch area. Some predicted him to repeat the numbers he had in Detroit or maybe improve just a bit. It was possible he could have had 37-40 home runs with the Rangers, but like others the injury bug got to him. If the Rangers would have had the same Prince Fielder that played for Tigers last year, not the post season Fielder, maybe they would have picked up 6 wins.
A dog named Wrigley: If there is one Rangers that spent the season in the dog house it was the Texas Rangers number 2 pitcher Derek Holland. Maybe it was his injury that started the whole injury bug in the clubhouse. Well, no it really wasn’t Holland’s fault what happened to this team. Sometimes it just has to be bad luck. All the wrong things happen at exactly the wrong time. Holland was starting to look like the Texas Rangers number 2 pitcher last season and once he finally rejoined the team he again looked the part. It’s easy to say with a healthly Holland all season the Rangers would have done a lot better. Maybe if they had him for an entire season they might have been able to picked up 7 more wins.
There are a lot of maybes and what ifs there, but if just a few things were different maybe the Rangers would have won 96 games and managed to just squeak into the playoffs. Maybe then they would be playing the Kansas City Royals. At least when those things are considered the season doesn’t seem too bad.