Already an area of concern for the Texas Rangers offense
By Travis Koch
With Beltre, Profar and Chirinos gone, the Texas Rangers must find a way to replace the trio’s power. Which players will step up?
The Texas Rangers erupted for 11 runs in yesterday’s spring training win over the Cleveland Indians. It was a much-needed eruption after they scored a combined two runs in the first two spring games. The team totaled five extra-base hits in the victory, none of which were home runs. Over three games, the Rangers have hit just one home run, and the player responsible was Carlos Tocci, who failed to launch a single homer in his 135 plate appearances in 2018.
What’s a few powerless spring games anyway? It’s not like they count for anything. Plus, the Rangers haven’t yet compiled anything close to their expected opening day lineup. But let’s consider the projected opening day lineup… where will the power come from?
Texas ranked 12th in MLB with 194 home runs a season ago. Joey Gallo led the team with 40, though the next highest total was 21 off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers were one of just ten teams that didn’t have at least two players hit more than 21 long balls.
Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar and Robinson Chirinos combined for 53 home runs in 2018. The trio is obviously no longer with the team. Texas has some newcomers, but none of them bring guaranteed power. In fact, most of them aren’t guaranteed any playing time.
Asdrubal Cabrera will play a lot. He hit 23 homers between the Phillies and Mets last season. Matt Davidson hit 20 with the White Sox last year, but he’s not expected to make the opening day roster. Hunter Pence is competing for a roster spot. He hasn’t hit more than 13 home runs in a season since 2014. Platoon catcher, Jeff Mathis, has 148 dingers over his 14-year career.
As for the returners, the 2018 home runs totals were as follows:
Joey Gallo- 40
Shin-Soo Choo- 21
Nomar Mazara– 20
Rougned Odor– 18
Ronald Guzman– 16
Elvis Andrus– 6
There’s definitely potential. Andrus hit 20 home runs in 2017. He’s by no means a noted power hitter; however, maybe he can regain his power stroke in 2019. Odor posted back-to-back 30+ home run seasons in 2016 and 2017. He was going through some transitioning at the plate last year, so maybe this year will be the one in which he matches contact with power.
Everyone is expecting Mazara to break out the boom stick at some point. He has tremendous pop, but for whatever reason he hasn’t been able to put it on display with much consistency. Guzman and Calhoun have good power, but their youth and inexperience leaves much in doubt.
There just isn’t a whole lot of certainty within the Texas Rangers lineup. They could have six players rally 20+ home runs, or they could have one.
The power expectations are really going to fall on the shoulders of Odor and Mazara. They’ll hit in the top half of the lineup and will therefore have plenty of opportunities to drive Choo and Andrus to the plate. There’s no better way to do so than the cheap way – the home run way.
We’ll see how it all plays out. There’s definite concern that the Texas Rangers are going to be an easy team to pitch to given the number of left-handed hitters they’ll sport in the lineup. Oppositions will take every chance to stack southpaws against them.
Gallo posted an .820 OPS against lefties in 2018, a mark that was actually higher than against righties. However, the Rangers’ remaining left-handed hitters struggled mightily against lefty pitchers last season.
Hopefully the switch-hitting Cabrera can flex his muscles. Perhaps Andrus can return to his 2017 self and maybe Pence will experience a career revival. Someone will need to provide some power from the right side of the plate. It’s a confusing bunch this year, but it’s also a very intriguing bunch. Stay tuned.