The Texas Rangers may have an average team based on record, but they have three players that are on their way to some serious MLB hardware.
It’s still early, but it’s no longer so early that stats can be taken lightly or deemed skewered. This is the point in the season in which players show their true colors. A few Texas Rangers got off to hot starts, though it remained to be seen whether or not they could keep it up. As of May 22nd, they’ve kept it up — perhaps even heated up.
Joey Gallo, Mike Minor and Hunter Pence have been outstanding this year. Just as the Rangers have exceeded expectations, so has each of them. Coincidence? I think not. They have solidified themselves as three of the best players on the team; however, their successes should be viewed nationally as well.
Hunter Pence threatening as Comeback Player of the Year
Expectations were low for Pence. After all, the guy hit .226 and slugged .332 in his age 35 season with the San Francisco Giants. He stooped so low that he decided to take a flyer on the Dominican League after the 2018 season.
Many were surprised by the Texas Rangers signing him over the offseason. Most considered him a long shot to make the major league club. He made it. It took one mighty impressive spring training showing, but he made it.
Then we all wondered how many at-bats he would get and how long he would stay up with the club. Well, he’s been so dominant all year long that he’s now playing everyday and holding down the 3rd or 4th spot in the lineup.
He’s slashing .307/.363/.644 and is tied for second on the team with nine home runs. He doesn’t quite have enough ABs to qualify as a league leader, but if he did, his 1.006 OPS would rank 5th, just behind Mike Trout.
Pence is a three-time All-Star and he’s finished in the top 20 in MVP voting twice in his 13-year career. At 36 years old, he’s putting forth his best campaign yet.
There are surely other players around Major League Baseball doing great things in 2019 after a terrible 2018. I don’t even need specific names to say that the turnarounds for any of those players are nothing compared to Hunter Pence’s.
Mike Minor is making an early season Cy Young case
Mike Minor is the pitching staff’s North Star. He has shown far brighter than his pitching teammates and he’s quietly emerged as one of the best arms in the American League. Just look as his league rankings:
-6th in the AL with a 2.64 ERA
-2nd with 64.2 innings pitched
-8th with 67 strikeouts
-12th with a 1.08 WHIP
-T-8th with 5 wins
With the exception of Opening Day, Minor hasn’t had a bad start all season. He has pitched at least seven innings in half of his outings and he’s posted two double-digit strikeout games. His complete game shutout against the Angels on April 16th was the best pitched game the Texas Rangers have seen in years.
Oh, and his 29 consecutive scoreless innings at Globe Life Park is a stadium record. The streak came to an end two nights ago against the Seattle Mariners.
Time will tell if Minor can keep pace. He is an extremely confident pitcher at the moment, and he’s taken on the role of ace of staff as well as anyone could have imagined. Make no mistake about it, he is one of the top pitchers in the league.
Envision hearing that chant come August as Joey Gallo steps to the plate. He has a long way to go, but those three letters seem within reach given the way he’s played thus far in 2019.
His batting average is inching towards .300, something that seemed very far-fetched up until maybe a few weeks ago.
Gallo’s 15 home runs rank 2nd in the American League behind only George Springer. He is 1st in OPS, 2nd in OBP, 1st in SLG and 3rd in walks. He has also seamlessly transitioned to center field and his six outfield assists rank 2nd in all of baseball.
For the first time ever, there is nothing negative to be said about Joey Gallo’s game. Superlative after superlative after superlative is being shouted about him and towards him. He has never been more of a threat; he has never been more difficult to pitch to.
He’s beginning to get the MVP treatment in the batter’s box, so why not believe he is an MVP candidate? I’m certainly starting to believe.