Are the Texas Rangers officially good at baseball again?
By Ben Zajdel
The Texas Rangers won their first two series and have surprised fans with their play. But can they keep it up?
Who had the Texas Rangers in second place behind the Seattle Mariners eight games into the season? Not me. Listen, I don’t want to hear about small sample sizes and run differentials. The Rangers are above .500 for the first time since 2017, and not only that, they’re fun to watch.
The season is only a week old and there’s already plenty to talk about. Some of it I’ll get into here. Some of it I want to think about a little longer before I discuss it because it might come off as a flaming hot take. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to be the boring season everyone thought it might be.
Are the Rangers good again? I don’t know, but I can say for sure they’re not the dumpster fire everyone assumed they’d be. Here are some thoughts from this week:
The Plate Appearances
It’s only eight games, but it already seems like the Rangers are more patient at the plate. They’re seeing more pitches per plate appearance this season–they saw 3.97 pitches per trip to the plate last year, compared to 4.17 so far in 2019. Two of the teams with the highest number of pitches seen per plate appearance last year were the Red Sox and the Dodgers. You know how things went for them.
That isn’t to suggest the Rangers are October bound. It just means they are trending in the right direction. Of particular note is Joey Gallo, who walked three times against the Astros on Wednesday. The game seems to have slowed down for the Rangers’ outfielder, and just at the right time. Fans will always harp about his batting average, but take a look at his on-base percentage. As of Friday it sits at .441. That’s really good, gang, and if he adds 40+ home runs to that we should all be happy.
Asdrubal Cabrera is Doing a Pretty Good Adrian Beltre Impersonation
We all knew there would be giant hole in our hearts (and third base) when Beltre hung up his cleats, but I didn’t think the Rangers would find a good fill in on a cheap one-year deal. Cabrera has already hit three home runs, is slugging .586 (it was +1.000 before going 0-4 against Houston Wednesday), and has shown a talent for timely hitting.
He’s not going to play hot corner defense like Beltre, but he’s not going to cost Texas any runs, either. Cabrera’s hot hitting will level out eventually, but hopefully it’ll be the top end of that level.
The Attrition of the Starters Has Begun
Edinson Volquez is on the 10 day IL with a sprained elbow. That’s not the type of injury you want from a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. The Rangers have young arms waiting to plug the holes in this rotation, but it’s a little early in the season for that. Ideally, you’d want guys like Taylor Hearn and Ariel Jurado to get their legs under them in Nashville before being called up. Jurado is a likely candidate to replace Volquez in the long run due to his big league experience.
The Texas Rangers Aren’t Losing 100 Games
I told you so. Before this season started, we made bold predictions and I said the Rangers would finish above the Mariners and the Angels in the standings. I might be wrong about Seattle because it looks like they might go 160-2 as a tribute to the recently retired Ichiro. But the point is, this team isn’t terrible.
They’re not going to World Series, not with their pitching, but to the fans clamoring for Jon Daniels’ job and proclaiming this season a disaster, you’re wrong. The Rangers aren’t losing 100 games, and I maintain they’ll be competitive for the early half of the summer.