3 Best Unexpected Performances for the Texas Rangers in 2023

The superstars grabbed the headlines for Texas this year, but Texas does not win a World Series or even reach the playoffs if not for these three unexpected performances.

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Harry How/GettyImages
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The unexpected legendary October from Josh Sborz

There was no reliever on the Texas Rangers roster that fans wanted to go more than Josh Sborz throughout the 2023 season. He had his moments of brilliance, but it was also tempered with outings where he could not get anyone out. His stuff is great, but if he is missing a location it becomes very hittable very quickly. Bruce Bochy and the front office continued to believe in Josh Sborz even amidst the rough outings.

The low point of the season had to be his appearance on September 4th against the Houston Astros. He pitched just 2/3 of an inning and gave up five runs including a home run. He also walked two and struck out no one. It was a disastrous appearance. There was not a guarantee that he would be on the roster the next day. Even some beat writers were speculating that would be the end of the run for Sborz. Texas decided to hold onto Sborz and place him on the IL instead. In retrospect that might have been the decision that won the Texas Rangers the World Series.

Sborz came back on September 29th healthy and became the ideal setup man the bullpen needed. He was outstanding in the postseason. He became the 7th and sometimes 8th inning reliever for Texas. In the postseason he finished with 12 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts to four walks, a 0.75 ERA, five holds, and one save. He only gave up one run in the entire postseason. That was a run in the seventh inning of ALCS game 7. That run scored when Aroldis Chapman came on in relief of Sborz in the 7th innning.

Texas' patience with Sborz paid off as he was on the mound in game five of the World Series. He came on and pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and gave up no runs, struck out four, and closed out the World Series with an emphatic slamming of the glove to the ground as the ump rung up Ketel Marte on a curveball at the top of the zone. He and Leclerc became the reliable options that Bochy needed and did not have throughout the 2023 season. What Sborz did when called upon every time out in October was a major reason why this team was able to win the World Series. It could quite easily be described as the most unexpected performance that Texas received in 2023.

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