With the 2018 season in the books, it’s time to look back at some of the best and worst developments with the Texas Rangers this year.
The long nightmare that is the Texas Rangers 2018 season is over. We can safely look back over the past six months and try to figure what went right, and what went wrong. Whenever a team finishes almost thirty games under .500, plenty went sideways. But there are always some positives; some glimmers of hope for next year and beyond.
So let’s get to the Rangers 2018 Smiles and Cries. There’s a scene in the Denzel Washington movie, Training Day, where Ethan Hawke talks about Smiles and Cries. If you haven’t seen Training Day, what are you doing? Go watch that. But first read this article.
Smile–Rougned Odor got his groove back.
The first half of the 2018 season was just a continuation of 2017 for Odor. He hit .239 with a .319 on-base percentage. His slugging percentage was an anemic .378 with only six home runs. And he was still chasing high fastballs and breaking balls in the dirt. It was so disappointing.
Then, after the all-star break, it was like a switch went off. He hit .341 with six home runs in July, then added another seven in August. His batting average cooled off a bit, but he finished the season with a .253/.326/.424 slash to go along with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs. Hopefully Odor will build on the adjustments he made in the second half of this year and earn his first all-star appearance in 2019.
Cry–Jeff Banister was fired.
On the one hand I’m not surprised Banister was let go. There were always hints at communication issues from players who left the team, but I always attributed it to sour grapes. Apparently there was something to it. On the other hand, no one had any illusions about the talent on this team this season. I never would’ve thought Banister would be let go because there was really no way to fail this season.
Except I didn’t realize there actually was a recipe for failure. In a season focused on developing young talent, it seems like Banister failed to do just that. According to Levi Weaver of The Athletic, there were in fact some communication issues between Banister and his players. It’s easy to look past some faults when things are going well. It’s a little harder when you’ve suffered two losing seasons in a row. Of course, the Texas Rangers are now looking for a new skipper.
Smile–Jurickson Profar got to play everyday and was great.
It took a long time, but we finally got to see what Profar can do if he’s healthy and gets to play every day. The Rangers super-infielder hit .254 with 20 home runs and 77 RBIs. He played about eleven positions and did it all with a smile. Getting to this point wasn’t easy for him. I hope Rangers fans appreciate how hard his journey has been and I’m looking forward to watching Profar play in Arlington in the coming years.
Cry–The starting pitching, or lack thereof.
Fifteen different pitchers started games for the Texas Rangers this season and all of them made me sad. Okay, some of them were “openers” so that skews the numbers a bit. And every time Bartolo Colon pitches is a magical experience. But most of this staff was picked up off the scrap heap and performed exactly as expected.
Mike Minor was the best starter with a 12-8 record to go along with an 4.18 ERA. The best thing he did was eat innings for the Rangers while they developed some of the younger arms that came along. It’s possible Cole Hamels would have straightened out his season in Texas if he’d stayed, but he’s not here. Minor was the best starter this year, and that’s not good in the scheme of things. Hopefully next year’ rotation will be a little better.
Smile–Jose Leclerc is the once and future closer.
I’m not willing to say Leclerc is the next Mariano Rivera, or even the next Neftali Feliz. But he’ll be the Rangers’ closer in 2019 unless they bring in a veteran, which would be a surprise, or if he struggles in spring training. If you have doubts about Leclerc, consider this: he inherited 36 runners this season and only allowed eight of them to score. That’s 22%. Compare that with MLB saves leader Edwin Diaz, who allowed 60% of the runners he inherited to score.
In 18 appearances in August and September, Leclerc allowed zero earned runs. Needless to say, he’s ready to close out games for the Rangers in the future. This team has a lot of holes, but closer isn’t one of them thanks to Jose Leclerc.
Cry–I’ll never get to see Adrian Beltre play baseball again.
This deserves its own article, but for now I’ll just say this–it’s impossible to express how much I’ll miss watching Beltre play baseball. I’ll miss the little shimmy he does when he almost gets beaned, I’ll miss all the goofy things he does, I’ll miss him staring daggers at Elvis when something weird happens, and I’ll especially miss him trying to murder anyone who touches his head after a home run.
I didn’t realize how special Beltre was when he first arrived in Texas, but I do now. The Rangers have been better with Beltre on the roster, and I’m not talking just about their record. Of all the Cries, this one hurts the most.
The 2018 season wasn’t the best, but it had its bright spots. Comment below on your favorite moments from last year.