The 2022 season for Texas Rangers fans was one of unmet expectations. The team spent over 500 million in free agency, only to see the team add only eight wins from the 2021 total. There were exciting moments this season. Nathaniel Lowe took a huge step forward in the second half and became a poor man's Freddie Freeman.
Adolis Garcia took charge in right-field. Corey Seager set a career high with 33 home runs and Marcus Semien became a 20-20 player. Young players like Josh Smith, Zeke Duran, and Bubba Thompson flashed loads of potential at various times in 2022.
The Top 5 reasons to be excited for the Texas Rangers' 2023 season
The No. 1 reason has to be seeing Jacob deGrom in a Rangers uniform. The moment he takes the mound for the Rangers he will be one of the most accomplished pitchers to do that in Rangers history. No Ranger pitcher has won a Cy Young award while wearing a Rangers uniform. Cliff Lee won one with the Indians in 2008 prior to being traded to Texas. deGrom won two while with the Mets.
I am excited to see that high 90s fastball rip into Jonah Heim's glove. I am excited to feel the electricity in the crowd on days that he pitches. I fully expect him to have a great first half and then go to Seattle and represent the organization in the All-Star game and maybe even start the game. He would become the first Ranger to start the All Star game since Kevin Brown did it in 1992.
Seeing Bruce Bochy manage
The No. 2 thing I am excited about is seeing what Bruce Bochy can do with this roster. Just like Degrom is the most accomplished pitcher, Bochy is the most accomplished manager the Rangers have ever had with three World Series titles on his resume. The Rangers have typically been an organization that relies on first time managers.
Very rarely do they hire veteran managers. For every manager like a Bochy or Buck Showalter there are more Bobby Valentine, Kevin Kennedy, Ron Washington, Jeff Bannister, and Chris Woodward types that have had this job. It will be interesting to evaluate his thought process, game management strategies, and how he handles this fragile pitching staff. His success or failure at these tasks will go a long way toward determining if the 2023 season is a success.
The No. 3 thing I am excited about is Adolis Garcia. He is not as good as Semien or Seager. He likely will never put up a .300 batting average like Lowe did last season. He is the Rangers most exciting player. He plays defense with reckless abandon. He goes all out with diving catches if the play is there. He has a cannon for an arm and is not afraid to show it off. He tends to be at the plate at the most important times of the game and comes through more often than not.
He is a player that requires you to put down your phone and give full-attention when he is in the box. He had his best season of his career last year. He enters the season as the starting RF now and for at least the next 2-3 seasons after this. In my opinion He is the best RF the Rangers have had since Juan Gonzalez was trolling that position in the late 90's and early 2000's. He is better all-around than Nelson Cruz. Cruz had more power, but Garcia is a better defender. The sky is the limit for Garcia as the 2023 season approaches.
Mike Maddux shoulder rubs
The No. 4 thing is the Mike Maddux shoulder rub. Maddux is back for a 2nd tour with the Rangers. He previously had this job from 2009-2015. Since then the shoulder rub has been in Washington and St. Louis. It is back now as he decided to come back home and join up with Bochy to try and lead this team back to contention. He will be coaching a talented pitching staff, but also one that comes with injury risks.
He will have to balance being able to get production from his guys with the ability to keep them healthy. He will also be in charge of a young bullpen that did not see a lot of success in 2022. He will have to work with each of those guys this spring to see what works for them and help them become the best version of themselves. We will likely see many shoulder rubs this season and I am excited that he is back. The Rangers pitching staff has not been the same since he left.
Show me the wins!
Finally, I am looking forward to seeing competitive winning baseball in 2023. I want to get to Sept. 15 in Cleveland against the Guardians and to see the team still in the hunt for either the division or one of the Wild Card spots. I think for this team to have a successful season two things have to happen. First, have a winning record for the first time since 2016. Second, stay in contention for the playoffs till the final week or weekend of the season.
The Mariners took that route in 2021, where they were in playoff contention all the way to game 162. They then followed that up with a playoff appearance in 2022. The Rangers could go that route and be in contention in 2023 and then make an appearance in 2024. They end the season in Seattle on October 1st. Imagine if they had Jacob Degrom on the mound in that game with the ability to clinch a spot with a win. Just thinking about that gives me goosebumps.