3 bold lineup changes Bruce Bochy needs to make for the Rangers to rebound

Given Texas' offensive inconsistency in 2024, it is time to get weird when it comes to their lineup.
Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Coming off a World Series title last season that was largely due to their prodigious offense, the Texas Rangers' 13-13 start has been a fairly major letdown. Injuries to key players on both sides of the ball have played a significant role, but another problem is that the Rangers' offense has been fairly ordinary in 2024 so far.

Despite strong starts to the season from guys like Marcus Semien and Adolis Garcia, Texas' position players rank just ninth in fWAR at 4.3 and are tied for 10th in wRC+ at 107. Certainly not bad numbers (the White Sox are dead last in wRC+ at 63, which seems almost impossibly bad), but not what you would have expected from a team returning most of the players from one of the best offenses in baseball in 2023.

Getting Josh Jung back from injury would be a big help here, but perhaps a bit of lineup shuffling, even if the changes are short-term, could get the Rangers' offense going and help them get through this rough patch they currently find themselves in.

Here are some bold lineup changes that Bruce Bochy should strongly consider going forward.

Rangers' Josh Smith needs to be hitting ahead of Evan Carter (for now)

There is no world that anyone should have argued for this move or even entertained it before the 2024 season. Evan Carter took the world by storm when he was called up late last year, and Josh Smith's previous two seasons with the Rangers were marked by offensive ineptitude of the highest order (he would have fit right in with the 2024 White Sox, though).

However, Smith is hitting like a man possessed right now, sporting a 141 wRC+ and .810 OPS, whereas Carter has struggled out of the gate, hitting .207 so far this season with just five hits in his last nine games. Smith's ability to get on base lately would really help create some more scoring opportunities further up in the lineup. That said, as soon as Smith cools off and/or Carter gets going, Bochy shouldn't hesitate to move Smith back down.

Wyatt Langford need to move down in the Rangers lineup while he figures things out

Given that the Rangers are already batting Langford seventh right now, this could be a tough sell. Obviously Langford has all the talent in the world and will absolutely come out of this funk he is in eventually, but there have been too many times when guys like Garcia and Smith have gotten on base ahead of him, only for the Rangers to come up empty.

Some of this has been umpires seemingly being far to willing to ring up Langford on pitches outside the strike zone all year long, but he is going to have to earn some of that respect himself. On top of that, Jonah Heim has been the strictly better hitter this season, and now that he is back, he should move up the lineup at Langford's expense.

Texas needs to do a better job of alternating handedness in the lineup

One thing that has been particularly troublesome with the lineups that the Rangers have been going with in 2024 is that they have been easy for opposing managers to target with their bullpen. Too often, there are groups of lefties followed be groups of righties in the lineup, which has made playing handedness matchups a bit too easy late in games. Complicating matters is that Texas has had to rely on the switch-hitting Leody Taveras to try and break things up at the bottom of the lineup, but he has a .539 OPS this season.

There is room for creativity here while still breaking up the lefties and righties. Jonah Heim has mashed lefties in his career, so move him up when appropriate against lefties, but only in a position where bringing in a strong righty reliever isn't immediately the answer. Move Ezequiel Duran around as well. Again, lineup balance is going to be easier once Jung is back, but right now it just feels like Texas' lineups aren't being optimized and the Rangers need every edge they can get right now.

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