Are the Texas Rangers being underrated heading into Spring Training?

Spring training is almost here and over/under projections are out. Are the major sporting books being stingy with how many games Texas will win?

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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The offseason is almost over as pitchers and catchers report in 16 days for the Texas Rangers. All of the major sporting books are releasing their preseason over/unders for wins for every team. Texas is coming off winning their first World Series in franchise history, but they are far from being treated as the defending champions. Draftking, Fanduel, and BetMGM have Texas' over/under at 89.5, Ceasars is at 89 and Bet365 is the highest at 90.5. The consensus between all the major sporting books is that Texas will finish behind Houston once again the AL West by three games or fewer. Is this a case of Texas being underrated or properly rated. Lets look both sides of the case and try to decide where Texas will finish up.

The case for Texas being underrated

There have been people on X or Twitter all offseason posting about how no one other than Rangers' fans will remember the 2023 World Series. I am sure people will comment about how they only had to beat an 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks team rather than the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies. People will forget that Texas returns nearly their entire starting lineup except for Mitch Garver. They are returning four members from the regular season starting rotation in Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and Dane Dunning. They have improved upon one of the worst bullpens in the regular season by adding Kirby Yates and David Robertson

The offense has a chance to be better in 2024 than they were in 2023 based upon a full season of Evan Carter and hopefully some better injury luck. That would involve Corey Seager playing closer to a full season and Carter providing increased production in left field. Carter is projected by Fangraphs to hit. 255, with 15 home runs, 73 RBI's, and 16 stolen bases. That would be a tremendous rookie season for Carter. If you combine that with the numbers from Seager, Semien, Garcia, Heim, and Lowe it should lead to a deeper and more consistent lineup from one to nine.

The rotation is led by Nathan Eovaldi to start the season. He is coming off a dominant October that saw him win five of his six starts. He won in the clinching game 5 after navigating through many jams. When he was healthy in the regular season Eovaldi was one of the more dominant starters in the AL in the first half. He will be backed up by Gray, Heaney, Dunning, and then a to-be-determined fifth starter. This is not a great rotation, but it is not a bad rotation either. Those top four combined for 43 wins in 2023 and none had an ERA higher than 4.15.

The story for the Texas Rangers in 2024 will be about the rehabs for Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle. Those three could be ready by late July to join the rotation. Those three joining the rotation in late July will turn the rotation from good to great. If they are healthy and pitching well they can carry this team through August and September. Them coming back will help both the rotation and the bullpen as one or two pitchers will be bumped from the rotation to the bullpen.

If you believe that Texas can play close to .500 ball through the first half and then above .500 when those three join the rotation then 89-90 wins is underrating this team. This team when healthy in 2023 was 40-20 to start 2023. If healthy in August they could pull off another run like that putting them likely above 90 wins.