With the 2022 Texas Rangers’ season mercifully behind us, we can use the power of hindsight to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
The distant memory of 2016’s 95-win playoff team is long gone in fans minds, as the Rangers failed to remain competitive once again. After Texas’ unheard of winter spending splurge in 2021, the team improved by a whopping 8 games. The 68-94 record is well short of expectations and projections but as Ron Washington would say “That’s how baseball go”.
It remains important to analyze where the soft spots remain as they look to add to the team to finally make them competitive once again.
2022 Texas Rangers- The Good
Not all was doom and gloom (as it was in 2020 and 2021) in Arlington this year, as there were quite a few nice surprises to be proud of. To start off, we got to enjoy the prodigal child’s return, a batting title competitor and some new guys to the group.
Martin Perez’ return was one that neither party will forget. After an 11 year career that saw him move from promising prospect, to bust, to journeyman and finally an All-star, Perez was the bright spot in the dark abyss that was the Rangers rotation. Game in and game out, you could count on Perez to put up a fight and give the team a chance to win. He set a career best 2.89 ERA giving the Rangers their first start with a sub-3 ERA since Yu Darvish in 2013.
On the other side of the ball, Nathaniel Lowe emerged as a middle of the order bat to hold down First base and solidify the Rangers infield as one of the best offensively in the game. Adolis Garcia’s sophomore year is worth noting here to but its hard to beat someone who could very well earn a Silver Slugger in his second full time year. Lowe lead all American League first baseman in batting average (.301), OPS (.846) and home runs (26) as well as 2nd in walks (48) and 4th in RBI’s (69). He’s earned the right to be a staple in the line up for the next few years.
The new guys to the group also showed that there is hope in the future. The additions of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray may not have met the lofty standards many had set, but improvements they were. Seager lead ALL short stops in home runs with 31, Gray had a career best 3.96 ERA and Semien turned the corner late in the year to post a team best 5.7 WAR.
Those guys weren’t even the most exciting newcomers, though, as we got to enjoy watching Ezequiel Duran, Josh H. Smith, Bubba Thompson and Josh Jung make their major league debuts. None of their performances would win a ROY award (2023 Mr. Jung?) but each of which demonstrated why they were such highly thought of prospects.
Meanwhile, we also got to see Mark Mathias surge onto the scene, having a big home run games, including a walk off. On the pitching side Brock Burke, who could be the Rangers ROY, set himself apart in the bullpen as the most reliable arm to come into games.
2022 Texas Rangers- The Bad
In a 94 loss season, there’s going to be a LOT of bad. I’ll point out the obvious though in pitching. Both the starting rotation and bullpen were the cause of many of their woes. The likes of Taylor Hearn, Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto and Spencer Howard refused to separate themselves from the pack of rotation hopefuls. Adding in Cole Ragans to that group, they averaged a 4.93 ERA with only Dunning managing double digit (10) quality starts.
The bullpen had more of an excuse as Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez returned from Tommy John surgery, but with Matt Moore having a resurgent year and Brock Burke breaking out, the rest of the crew otherwise fell short of expectations. As a unit, the Rangers pitching staff allowed 743 runs, somehow ending up 23rd in the league.
They also ranked fifth in blown saves with 29, but had a league-high save percentage at just over 45%. That’s a bunch of BS is you ask me, but it helped lead to the firing of pretty much the whole pitching coaching staff from the majors down to AA. However, the real change will be needed on the field.
2022 Texas Rangers- The Ugly
One run games were a bane that couldn’t be defeated throughout the year. They finished 15-35 in said games, a record of which will go down as one of the worst “luck” seasons yet. The aforementioned pitching problems were certainly a cause of this but defense was no help either.
The Texas Rangers defense regressed from a respectable T-10th in errors in 2021 to 25th in 2022 with 96. As a team, they ranked 21st in overall defense and 20th in defensive runs saved. With seven of the 12 playoff teams finishing in the top 10, including each of the top five, this stands out as an area that needs improvement.
Finally, opponents’ right-handed pitching. Even with left handed sluggers Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe, the Texas Rangers were 28th in the league, going 41-66 (.383) in games started against righties. The lineup isn’t exactly in need of help but adding another left handed bat could help prevent this odd stat from happening again.