The Texas Rangers are serving us all a nice piece of humble pie
By Travis Koch
The Texas Rangers haven’t exactly been mentioned in confident breaths over the last many months, but that has changed in the opening month of the 2019 season.
Raise your hand if you thought Joey Gallo would be hitting .280 through 21 games. Raise your hand if you thought 36-year-old Shin-Soo Choo would keep pace with his stellar age 35 season. Raise your hand if you thought the Texas Rangers would be three games over .500 and a game and a half out of first place at this point.
The most narrow-minded Gallo fans likely raised their hands. Maybe some folks have learned to look beyond Choo’s contract and see him for the uber-productive hitter he can be. Surely a number of people expected the Rangers to teeter around .500, but three games over was a long shot, especially this early.
If you raised your hand to all three, you’re either lying or you’re unusually optimistic. The vast majority of us can sit back and enjoy a nice piece of humble pie served up by our beloved Rangers.
A piece from Joey Gallo
Gallo has disproved all the doubters, and with flying colors, I might add. A .280 batting average is his highest clip since the second game of the 2017 season. He started that season 2-for-7, but never sniffed as high of an average from that point forward.
It’s definitely encouraging to see Gallo getting a lot of hits, but we know that’s not really his game. Power is his game, and it has been on display very frequently. His eight home runs are 7th most in MLB, his .734 SLG is 4th best and his 1.116 OPS is 8th best in MLB. What may be most stunning, however, are his 11 walks and his .382 OBP.
He’s laying off the high fastballs and the bouncing breaking balls. As a result, pitchers are being forced to make their best pitches in the zone. If they don’t, Gallo is making them pay. He’s righting his wrongs from the past at the plate, and that makes for one dangerous power hitter.
A piece from Shin-Soo Choo
Choo continues to go about his business very quietly. Amidst the hot starts from Gallo and Elvis Andrus, his .318 batting average has flown under the radar. His .430 OBP actually puts Gallo’s to shame.
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The Ranger DH may be the most professional hitter in baseball. For him to draw as many walks as he does (11 this year), without being one of the more feared hitters in the game, is extremely impressive. It’s one thing to be Bryce Harper, who full well knows pitchers are going to give him very little to hit. It’s another to be Choo, who has to have a keen eye and a distinct ability to spoil pitches in order to draw walks.
Texas is a better team when Choo is at his best in the leadoff role. Having reached base in his opening bat in 10 consecutive games, I’d say he’s currently at his best. It just so happens the Rangers are currently playing great ball.
A whole pie from the Texas Rangers
EVERYONE was down on the Rangers’ pitching staff entering the year. It’s had its struggles, but there is no doubt the group has been functional. Mike Minor has been a legitimate ace and Lance Lynn has been a fine #2. Every Drew Smyly start has been a sweat, though his team is always in the game by the time he leaves. Finally, Adrian Sampson and Shelby Miller each contributed to big wins over the Houston Astros this past weekend.
A 4.93 ERA from the relief unit ranks 23rd in MLB; however, 78 innings pitched ranks 16th. Considering the excessive workload Rangers relievers have had to take on, the results are certainly acceptable.
The Rangers offense has been dominant. Their 116 runs scored ranks 3rd in Major League Baseball behind only the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers. Their OPS, SLG and BA all rank in the top 15. It’s understandable to still doubt Texas pitching, but the offense has too many weapons to be routinely doubted.
Please accept each piece of pie with great humility, and appreciate the hot starts of Joey Gallo, Shin-Soo Choo, and the Texas Rangers as a whole. Hopefully they’ll be serving it all year.