As the start of spring training draws near, the Texas Rangers are hoping that the 2023 season will be the season the team returns to the playoffs. Following a massive spending spree on pitching this offseason which included adding star Jacob DeGrom and Nathan Eovaldi, but failed to add another bat to the lineup. While they didn't add another bat through free agency, the return of a healthy Mitch Garver to this lineup is just as good as any other move the team could've made.
In 2022, the 31-year-old Garver played in 58 games for the Rangers before undergoing surgery on his right forearm that ended his season. Across those 58 games, Garver hit .207, with 10 home runs, a .298 on-base percentage, and a .404 slugging percentage, finishing 7th on the team in home runs. Not great numbers for Garver in his first season with the Rangers, but prior to his injury in May was a productive player for the team.
In the month of May alone, when Garver first suffered his injury, he hit .300, with .346 OBP,and a .660 SLG%., and four home runs This is the sort of production the team was expecting from Garver when he was first acquired from the Minnesota Twins to be the starting catcher. Even if he doesn't hit like this for the whole season, the numbers he put up in 2021 would provide enough of a boost to the Ranger's lineup.
In 2021 for the Twins, Garver hit .256, with 13 home runs, a .358 OBP, and a .517 SLG% in 68 games as their starting catcher. Great numbers in 68 games, but not close to the numbers he put up in 2019 when he hit .273, with 31 home runs, a .365 OBP, and a .660 SLG% in 93 games. A healthy Mitch Garver has been very productive, but the main problem has been his inability to stay healthy his entire career.
The highest number of games Garver's played in his career is 102 back in 2018. Only twice in his career has Garver played more than 90 games in 2018 and 2019. It's no secret that playing catcher takes a toll on the body, and the recently turned 32-year-old's body has taken a beating. This leaves Garver in a position to be the primary designated hitter for the Rangers this season, following Jonah Heims's emergence at catcher last season and Sam Huff being a more than capable backup.
As the primary DH for the Rangers this season, Garver will bring stability to the Ranger's middle-of-the-order and DH spot. Last season Rangers DHs combined to hit a mere .227, with 20 home runs, a .304 OBP, and a .381 SLG% showing a clear need for an upgrade at the position. Although Garver did have some starts at DH last season, it mostly came after he was injured, limiting his production with the bat.
To stabilize a weakness in the Rangers lineup and be in the best position to contend in 2023, the Rangers need Mitch Garver to be healthy and producing. Having Mitch Garver as the primary DH for the team puts him in one of the best positions to remain healthy and contribute to the offense. If the Rangers don't go out and add another bat to the lineup, Mitch Garver's importance to the Rangers lineup cannot be overstated.