The 2022 Texas Rangers roster as of now: First basemen
Certainties: Nathaniel Lowe
Just like at catcher, first base is a position where Texas badly needs some consistency. Seven different players have rounded out the infield on Opening Day since 2014, and the Rangers haven’t been able to find their guy since Prince Fielder’s career-ending neck surgery. Thankfully, newly-acquired Nathaniel Lowe was a bright spot among a very bleak 102-loss season in 2021. Lowe finished his first full year at the position with a slash line of .257/.344/.418 at the plate and just shy of 1,300 defensive innings.
Lowe’s biggest flaw as a player is that his swing sorely lacks power. He was one of the better OBP hitters on the team in ’21, but as a regular starting first baseman on a championship contender, a guy has to be responsible for a huge share of power hitting, and Lowe still has a ways to go in that department. His first full season showed promise – he put up a solid .339 BABIP, he could hit against the shift, and he was a 2.4 oWAR hitter – but his fly ball and home run percentages were lower than the league average, and the Rangers just need more. Is Lowe capable of it? Probably. He’s 26 and is no longer going to be one of the critical offensive elements of a basement dweller. Time will tell, but better development and improvement could turn Lowe into one of the better first basemen in the American League down the road.
Dark Horse: Matt Olson
Let me be clear, I don’t personally think that Matt Olson is anywhere close to becoming a Texas Ranger. I am a Nathaniel Lowe believer, and I believe Chris Young is too. The Athletics might be in selling mode, but an Olson trade likely centers around an Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade, a handful of prospects, and a variety of other valuable assets. Oakland would also probably not want to send their star first baseman to a divisional rival.
All of that being said, Oakland is in sell-now mode and Olson would provide the Rangers with the power-hitting they desperately need from their first baseman. An Olson acquisition, were it to not include Lowe, could move Lowe to the DH spot and allow Olson, a 2x Gold Glove winner and one of the best defensive first basemen in the league, to handle the responsibilities with the glove. Having an infield with Olson, Semien, Seager, and Jung is a baseballer’s pipe dream, however, so one can hope.