It’s a new era for Texas Rangers baseball, in case the transition hasn’t been more than apparent based upon the team’s less than stellar 23-38 record through 61 games played.
23-38, you say? That number looks awfully familiar. If it does, it’s because the Rangers finished 22-38 during the 60-game, pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In total, the 2021 incarnation of this team has improved one game over last year’s crew.
Of course, you should take observation this with a grain of salt. The 2021 Texas Rangers have a lot more promise and potential, with young players thriving in new roles and veterans setting themselves up to be traded for assets.
About those young players, there are several who have justified the Rangers’ belief in them so far, while others have disappointed. Let’s take a look at two who meet the former criteria and one who regretfully falls into the latter.
(Side note: Thanks to our friends over at Reviewing the Brew for the story model. You can read their version here.)
Texas Rangers who have rewarded the team’s faith in them
Rewarded: Isiah Kiner-Falefa
FanGraphs “darling” Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been really impressive in 2021 after assuming the role of starting shortstop coming out of spring training.
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After winning a Gold Glove at the position in 2020, it should’ve been clear that his capacity for handling the rigors of shortstop duties was more than adequate. His defense has mostly been outstanding again in 2021. The question was always his ability to hit consistently.
Well, if he isn’t hitting to FanGraphs’ liking in 2021, he’s definitely doing so to the pleasant surprise of Ranger fans and brass.
IKF already has career highs in homers (5), OPS (.726) and walks (64) through 243 at-bats in 2021. He also has 10 stolen bases this season, further adding to his diverse skill set.
Those numbers are solid enough, and with Elvis Andrus struggling mightily in Oakland, it definitely looks as though Texas made the right choice in entrusting Kiner-Falefa with shortstop in 2021.
Will this production from Izzy be enough to stave off a Rangers pursuit of a big name shortstop this coming off-season though? That remains to be seen.