It’s no secret that the Texas Rangers offense has been, well, below average thus far. Through 18 games, the Rangers rank 10th in the American League in runs scored with 71, 13th in home-runs with 13 and dead last in batting average at .211. Even worse, 10 of their runs came in a 11-10 loss at Seattle last Sunday, on an afternoon where Nelson Cruz absolutely burned his former team, hitting two bombs to left field and ending the game with a walk-off single.
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So, whats the issue? Many players are coming off of injury plagued seasons, and were supposed to get back to form. Prince Fielder, who missed the majority of last season after suffering a herniated disk in his neck, has started the year strong, leading the Rangers in batting average at .361 and RBI’s with 10. Unfortunately, other players have not been so lucky. Shin-Soo Choo is in an extended slump to be polite, batting a pitiful .104 with 1 home run and 5 RBI’s. The leadoff spot has been a hogwash, with manager Jeff Banister cycling through Leonys Martin and Rougned Odor. To add to the chaos, Adrian Beltre is having a down start to the year, especially by his standards.
Beltre, who is normally good for .300/25/100, has started the 2015 campaign slowly, hitting .194 despite leading the team in home runs with 2. Some could be contributed to his age, but Beltre won’t tell you that. He’s the cleanup man, and the protection behind Prince Fielder in the lineup. Not to say the offensive woes are all his fault, but he certainly hasn’t helped.
With a month of the season gone, the American League West is more wide open than most analysts predicted. In fact, the Houston Astros own a 2.5 game lead in the West at 11-7, but the Rangers aren’t out of the race. At 7-11, Texas is 4 games back of Houston and is currently tied with Seattle for 5th. If Jeff Banister & Co. want to be competitive come July and August, the offense has to step up. That starts with the veterans like Choo, Beltre, Moreland and Andrus. The middle of the order has to be consistent and more importantly, has to score runs. I can’t tell you how many times I want to rip my hair out when the Rangers leave ducks on the pond.
I know what most of you are thinking: Josh Hamilton will help, right? Well, not right away, and maybe not at all. As we all know, Hamilton just hasn’t been the same since he left Texas in 2012, and even then, he disappeared in September. However, even a struggling Hamilton is better than what our outfielders are doing now. The Rangers outfield core has been disgusting, combining for a .165 batting average. Even at his worst, you have to think Hamilton will be an upgrade over Carlos Peguero and heck, maybe even Choo.
What hurts the most is that the Texas Rangers have squandered solid outings with a lack of run support. Nick Martinez threw a gem on Sunday in Los Angeles, and the Rangers were forced to go into extra’s just to salvage the win. Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo have been decent to start the year, but both have lost games in which they’ve pitched well because the offense simply cannot push runs across the plate.
The bottom line is this: the Rangers’ bats have to wake up. Banister has tried shuffling the lineup, and has yet to find one he likes. He’s a sabermetrics guy, so don’t think for one second he won’t go back to the drawing board if he feels like it will help the club. For now, the Texas Rangers are treading water and trying to stay afloat with a below average offense. It might be time to break out the rally caps in Arlington.