The complete story of the 2023 season for the Texas Rangers is yet to be written. The final chapter is in the process of being played out. Texas is in position to win the division for the first time since 2016 and become the first team to beat out Houston in a 162-game season for the AL West division title since 2017. This final chapter has had many ups and downs. The season was truly on the brink after Houston came to Arlington and swept the Rangers in a series that was not very close. Houston took the lead midway through the first game and did not trail at any point the rest of the series. Houston left town not only with the tiebreaker in hand but also with a three-game lead in the division over the Rangers.
Texas Rangers darkest time in the 2023 season
Texas was left for dead by all the experts and rightfully so. Texas was in a stretch that saw them lose 15 of 19 games. The offense was struggling to score runs outside of home runs. The pitching both in the rotation and in the bullpen struggled to have any success at all. The team appeared to be playing with little to no energy nightly. Adolis Garcia went down with an injury in the final game against Houston. In hindsight this movie quote is appropriate for the moment.
The feelings around the fanbase were very dark. There was not a lot of hope or optimism surrounding the team. The team needed a hero. The needed someone with youthful energy. The needed someone who could provide hope. In stepped top prospect Evan Carter.
Who would step up to be that hero that Texas needed?
Carter was brought up to replace Garcia who was placed on the IL with a strained patellar tendon. No one had any idea of what to expect. It was known that Carter was certainly talented enough to be a major leaguer. That much was seen in spring training and how he produced this season. Was he ready for the moment? Could he seemingly produce in such a high-pressure situation? The question to each of those questions has been answered with a resounding yes. He has been everything this team has needed and more.
The reputation Carter had coming up through the minors was one of a batter who was extremely patient at the plate. He had some power, but relied more on driving the ball into gaps. He was an elite base runner and defender. I even said in article that he was a stat sheet stuffer. He filled up nearly every statistical category. The abilities he has shown in the minors have translated to the majors. Carter is still drawing walks, he is still getting base hits, he is stealing bases, and he is scoring runs. One talent that has been better than expected is his power. He has four home runs in 16 games. He only had 13 in the entire minor league season that he played. That has been a revelation for the young star as this home run on Sunday showed.
Evan Carter and his skillset that he brought to Arlington
When Carter arrived Texas had lost 15 of 19 and then proceeded to lose his debut against the Oakland A's to make it 16 of 20. They proceeded to win the next day and are 11-5 overall since his debut. It is unknown how much Carter has had to do with this stretch, but he has done several things to help during this turnaround. He has played terrific defense in both left and center field. He has provided great at-bats from the nine-hole in the order and given Semien and Seager opportunities to drive him in. Carter has been the small-ball weapon that this team was missing. In the game against the Mariners on September 22nd Carter drew a walk, stole second, moved to third on a Corey Seager single, and scored on a Nathaniel Lowe groundout. That has happened on a few occasions since his arrival. He makes it easier for this team to score runs.
The numbers back that up. Carter has started and received at-bats in 16 games. He has reached base in all 16 games. Texas is averaging 6.3 runs per game in which he has started. They have reached seven or more runs in seven of the 15 games he has played. His individual numbers are just as impressive as the team numbers. Carter in 16 games has a .326 batting average, four home runs, 10 RBIs, nine walks, three stolen bases, and 13 runs scored. He has performed well above anyone's expectations.
Every hero's tale though does take a villainous turn at some point. The Dark Knight says it best when it says that a person "can either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain". Eventually, Carter will go through a cold stretch, baseball is a game of failure. The playoffs are a completely different beast to slay. For now, Carter is the hero the Texas Rangers need. He has come along at just the perfect time to potentially help this team win the AL West and slay the beast that is the Houston Astros.