Injuries aren't solely to blame for Rangers' struggling offense to start 2024

Texas Rangers v Houston Astros
Texas Rangers v Houston Astros / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Texas Rangers had a good first week of the season, winning their first two series while the offense looked strong, scoring double-digit runs in just the second game of the year. The Rangers have gone just 5-7 since those first two series though, having lost their last two series to the Athletics and Astros.

The offense has struggled to produce aside from a few games since the first week of the season. The Rangers blew a late game lead on Tuesday to split the first two games of four with the Tigers, scoring two runs after only mustering one on Monday.

The offense has seemed cold lately to the eye, but what do that stats say? Through the first 18 games of last season the Rangers have scored 143 runs, almost eight per game. It's important to acknowledge that's an absurd number and they could not be expected to replicate that sort of pace to begin this season. But expectations are high, and as one of the top lineups in the league being tied for eighth with 89 runs (or just under five per game) through the same 18 game span isn't nearly as satisfying as 2023.

There are a few different reasons for the step back. The lineup is clearly missing Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe, and Lowe's replacements have not replicated what he adds to this lineup in any category. Josh Smith has filled in admirably, but he lacks the slugging Jung was able to provide. The lack of slugging is not unique to those filling in for injuries though -- it's across the board.

A few key players struggling have made a big difference in addition to the injuries. The Rangers offense and slugging goes through Corey Seager, and he has struggled with finding power most of all. Seager has just a .743 OPS to start the season with only one home run and five RBI. He missed all of spring training and seems to be finding his rhythm slowly.

Rookie Wyatt Langford is also lagging behind with a .646 OPS and has yet to hit a home run after posting a 1.137 OPS and six home runs during his red hot spring training. Langford is very early in his major league career and is still figuring it out. His hot start in the minors and spring training, however, contributed heavily to the lofty expectations for this lineup.

The Rangers as a team are slugging just .392 so far this season -- a pedestrian number with the league average just below at .388. The Rangers finished with a slugging percentage 38 points higher than the league average last season: .452 to a .414 average. The reduced slugging this season isn't entirely unique to the Rangers, although it does seem more dramatic for them based on their numbers relative to the average year over year.

The lack of slugging can also be seen in the reduced home run numbers. The Rangers had 21 home runs through the first 18 games of 2023. They have 15 through the first 18 games of 2024. The big fly was a big weapon for the Rangers last year as they ranked third in all of baseball. So far this season they rank just 21st.

It's important to note that a full season is of course a much larger sample size than 18 games. Water will likely find its level and this team will be one of the better slugging and home run total teams when the 2024 season is all said and done. But right now they aren't because of a nasty cocktail of injuries and star players slumping, and the offense and their record are suffering for it.