The marathon that is the baseball season has just eclipsed the two week mark. While the sample sizes are still small, certain players from each facet of the game are starting to emerge as extremely valuable cogs in the Texas Rangers machine.
There are several worthy candidates in the pitching department early in the season. Both from the rotation and from the bullpen.
By going 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA through his first 3 starts of 2016, Cole Hamels has extended his streak of regular season starts without a losing decision to 13. As a result, Cole continues to look very much like the ace the rangers were hoping for when he was acquired at the deadline last season.
However, at this point in the season, due to the limited number of starts for the rotation, in conjunction with the early season struggles for the Texas Rangers beleaguered bullpen. I am going to give the early season nod for pitching MVP’s to the stalwart duo of Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman in the ‘pen. Early in the season, the pair has served as a sort of saving grace for an overall shaky bullpen.
Sam Dyson continues to make the trade with the Miami Marlins at the 2015 deadline look like a highway robbery in broad daylight. After being incredible down the stretch for the Texas Rangers last year, Dyson hasn’t missed a beat, allowing only 1 run through his first 6 appearances of the season. Dyson was already tough enough to hit because of the hard and heavy sinker that he throws, but early in the season he has also displayed an outstanding change-up that has yet to be hit this season.
For how good Dyson has been out of the ‘pen, Jake Diekman has arguably been even better. Diekman still possess an ERA of 0.00, though he has given up 2 unearned runs, both of which came on the walk-off home-run he conceded in Seattle. Coincidentally, that home-run stands as the only hit Diekman has conceded in this young season to go along with one walk through 4 appearances.
As the rotation begins to rack up more starts, and the bullpen hopefully steadies from its early season wobbles, the way we look at the pitching landscape on the Texas Rangers will doubtless change. But regardless of which other pitchers begin to step forward on this team, it is a solid bet that both Diekman and Dyson will at least be in the conversation as the Texas Rangers best pitcher come seasons end.
The early season offensive MVP for the Texas Rangers is also up for debate. Several players have started strong, but I am going to award this one to spark-plug and lead-off man Delino Deshields.
The season certainly started slow in the base hits department for Delino, and his high strikeout number is a concern. But even with the early season lack of hits and abundance of strikeouts, Deshields still managed to maintain a high OBP, and score runs by walking and getting hit by pitches. Recently, the base knocks have started flowing as well, which has Deshields up over the .300 mark in batting average for the first time this season.
Currently either leading, or tied for the team lead in runs, OBP, and walks, DeShields has been a key for the Rangers’ early season run scoring endeavors. Though some of the traditional offensive numbers like home-runs and RBIs, will never be anything special to look at in DeShields case. Early in the season, there is no doubt that DeShields has had a huge impact by getting on base, messing with the mind of pitchers once on base, and most importantly scoring runs.
Honorable Mentions: Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre
By far the easiest of the three categories to pick a winner for early in the season is defense. The newly extended and ageless wonder Adrian Beltre snags the early season defensive MVP honors hands down.
Age is quite clearly just a number to the newly minted 37 year old Beltre. Both the bat and the glove refuse to exhibit many of the expected age related declines for the Ranger’s captain. Through the first 13 games of the season, Beltre has made all the plays, spectacular and routine, with the air of ease and confidence we have come to expect from #29. Error-less, and already involved in turning 7 double-plays, Beltre could well be on the way to another gold glove nomination and possibly a 5th win.
Adrian Beltre has said that he feels 25 not 37. I’m inclined to believe him too, as he has played some of the best defense of his Rangers’ career early this season, all the while continuing to be a key contributor offensively.
Honorable Mention: Rougned Odor
So who do you think are the early season MVPs for the Texas Rangers in each of the 3 categories? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.