The Rise of Ezequiel Duran
The season had barely started when Corey Seager injured his hamstring in Kansas City trying to leg out a triple. The injury immediately placed Seager on the IL for a month. The question facing Texas is how do you make up for the loss of an MVP candidate? They first turned to Josh Smith who is a light-hitting utility infielder, but who possessed a great glove at short. Smith struggled to produce at the plate and so the team then turned to another played acquired in the 2021 Joey Gallo trade in Ezequiel Duran.
Duran wasted no time showing that he belonged in the lineup on an everyday basis. He had nine multi-hit games in the time Seager was out. He also had four home runs and 17 RBIs. He played stellar defense at short and became a good double-play partner for Marcus Semien. Duran's production helped Texas be able to withstand the loss of Corey Seager. Texas had a winning record in the month that Seager missed.
Duran continued hitting even after Seager returned to the lineup. He played short, third, and left field for Texas. He also learned how to play first and even played some second base as well. Bruce Bochy was doing whatever he could to find ways to get Duran's bat into the lineup on an everyday basis. There was even talk at one point that Duran should be Texas' seventh All-Star.
The second half was not as kind to Duran, but his unexpected performance in the first half did enough to help Texas race out to a 40-20 start to the season. His performance was so good that fans were even hesitant to trade him for Shohei Ohtani. It sparked the famous Twitter debate started by Jamey Newberg who asked fans if they would trade Duran and Jack Leiter for Shohei Ohtani and no talk of an extension. That is how good Duran was playing and he was considered to be a centerpiece to a potential trade for the best player in the game.