Quarterly Report: Are the Texas Rangers Meeting Expectations this Season?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 12: Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers celebrates a three-run homerun with Joey Gallo #13 in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 12, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 12: Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers celebrates a three-run homerun with Joey Gallo #13 in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 12, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

We’re just over a quarter of the way into the season and the Texas Rangers seem to be meeting and exceeding expectations despite a sub-.500 record.

The Texas Rangers sit at 22-23 through the first 45 games of the season which also happens to mark a quarter of the year behind us. Nobody likes to see a record under the .500 mark, but sitting half a game up in 2nd place of the AL West, can we take solace in meeting expectations? Are we possibly exceeding them?

Where Do We Sit?

As mentioned above, currently the Texas Rangers sit at 22-23 on the season, good for 2nd place in the AL West. They’re half a game up on the 3rd place Athletics, a game ahead of the Angels and a game and a half ahead of Seattle. Despite the Astros running away with the division thus far like most would’ve expected, Texas still is sitting pretty despite trailing the division leaders by 8.5 games.

The reason 8.5 games back of the Astros is survivable is that 2nd place was not necessarily a realistic finishing spot for Texas entering the season. Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report predicted the Rangers to finish in the cellar of the AL West at 64-98 and 10 games back of 4th place Seattle. Dayn Perry of CBS Sports had the Rangers with the lowest projected win total, 73.4 wins, in the division. Even the betting line was low for Texas with Kris Abbott at Odds Shark setting the Rangers final win total at just 71 games.

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Despite these low expectations across the board, Texas is on pace for an 80-win season and perhaps most shockingly, are just two and a half games out of a Wild Card spot. And this record is despite two 5-game losing streaks, one at the end of April and one earlier this month. This is still a relatively small sample size, but 45 games in is generally a decent predictor of how the season will go.

What’s Going Right For Texas

Offense, Offense, Offense… Obviously, for a team with such low expectations to start a season, there have to be some notable positives to pull them up into 2nd place in the division. Hands down the biggest surprise has been the offensive production. Texas sits 3rd in the MLB in runs scored and lead the entire league in runs per game at 5.87. They sit top 5 in the MLB in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS as a team.

The catalysts of all this production circle around a handful of outstanding hitters. Leading the way is slugger Joey Gallo who is having a breakout season that is opening eyes across the league. Despite a 2018 batting average of just .206, through 41 games this season, Gallo is hitting .285 and leads the league in slugging percentage at .660, and OPS at 1.079. He’s on pace for a number of career highs and while his strikeout rate isn’t down really, his batting average on balls in play is up tremendously at .397 so far this season up 148 points from the .249 percentage he had in 2018. Oh, and did I mention he’s hitting home runs at a higher per game clip as well?

Offseason addition Hunter Pence is also showing out at the plate and helping generate runs for the offense. Pence has appeared in 31 games for the Rangers this season and is hitting .307 with an OPS of 1.006, both of which would be career highs by a considerable margin. In his age-36 season, Pence has turned back the clock and sits 10th the majors in average exit velocity at 94.5 mph according to StatCast. The only teammate ahead of him is Joey Gallo who sits second at 97.2 mph.

Offense, offense, offense and the third offense is for Elvis Andrus. He may be injured right now but pre-IL stint, Elvis Andrus was having himself an MVP caliber season. The 30-year old shortstop is hitting .325 through his first 38 games this season and is on pace for career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He’s set to begin his rehab stint in Frisco this week and should return to the order before the end of the month.

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A Couple Of Pitching Outliers… As a whole, the Texas Rangers pitching staff has been pretty poor this season especially the rotation. Don’t include Mike Minor or Lance Lynn in that talk though. The one, two punch for the Rangers have been very good in 2019, specifically Minor who has been nothing short of exceptional.

The 31-year old left-hander has been proving doubters wrong about his status as an ace in Arlington. Minor has made 10 starts so far this season and picked up 5 wins for Texas while posting 6 of the 12 quality starts for the club. His 2.64 should be the eye-opener for people just checking stats, but watching him on the mound shows the step forward he’s taken this season. For confirmation though, his hits per 9 innings and home runs per 9 innings are down compared to 2018 while his strikeout rate is up. He leads all of baseball in WAR from a pitcher and while he may be playing himself into some trade speculation, he’s also garnering calls for contract extensions from Rangers supporters.

Lance Lynn’s numbers may not jump off the page like Minor’s but he has been just as effective in his own right. Lynn has 5 of the Rangers quality starts this season and despite a 4.94 ERA has equaled Minor’s win total this year. He doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff that Minor has had but he definitely is holding his own and won’t make the Rangers regret handing him a 3-year deal this offseason.

Texas definitely is exceeding expectations this season and it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up. They’re at least hanging around the playoff discussion and are surely heading in the right direction.

Let us know what you think about the Texas Rangers season so far and where you think they are headed in the comments below.