Rangers' Joey Gallo trade piece is saving the team during Josh Jung's absence

Losing Josh Jung to the IL has not been as detrimental as first assumed.
Texas Rangers infielder Josh Smith
Texas Rangers infielder Josh Smith / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

There hasn't been just one injury bug that's bitten the Texas Rangers this season — it's been a whole swarm. Jacob deGrom, Tyler Mahle, and Max Scherzer all began the season on the IL. Those three starters were later followed by Cody Bradford.

But the biggest injury the Rangers have suffered this season was losing starting third baseman Josh Jung. To make matters worse, Jung's roster replacement, Justin Foscue, barely lasted one game before he too found his way to the IL as well.

The Rangers didn't know where to turn without Jung in the lineup. But thankfully Bruce Bochy already had somebody on the roster who's was ready, willing, and able to take the mantle. Josh Smith has played exceedingly well since Jung landed on the IL, and has helped to keep the Rangers afloat with their All-Star infielder on the mend.

Rangers' Joey Gallo trade piece is saving the team during Josh Jung's absence

Smith played a reserve role with the Rangers the past two seasons. With just over 160 big leagues games under his belt heading into 2024, Smith was hitting just .191/.306/.287. But in a full-time role, Smith has shined. The 26-year-old is hitting .318/.420/.494 and leads the league with nine doubles. Over his last 15 games, Smith has a 1.013 OPS.

A lot of fans forget that Smith was part of the Rangers trade with the New York Yankees a few years back. The Yankees landed former Rangers slugger Joey Gallo and left-handed Joely Rodriguez in exchange for Smith, Ezequiel Duran, Trevor Hauver, and Glenn Otto.

Is this simply a hot-streak that Smith is riding at the moment, or is this sign of things to come if the Rangers commit to giving Smith more playing time? While Jung will surely be handed the keys to third base upon his return from the IL, don't sleep on the idea of Bochy finding more ways to get Smith's bat and glove into the lineup more often once the former first-rounder is back on the active roster.

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