Most Valuable Texas Ranger
Now on the most important category of the night and that is Most Valuable Texas Ranger. There are several worthy candidates of this award. Many players have stood out and helped carry this team throughout this first half of the season. It has been a complete team effort rather than a team carried by a singular great talent. Only three players can be nominated for this award though and it was tough to narrow this award down to these three names. The nominees for most valuable Texas Ranger are Dane Dunning, Nathan Eovaldi, and Corey Seager.
Dane Dunning has been valuable to this team because of the variety of roles he has had to fill this season. He came to camp having had hip surgery back in August of last season. He got into games early in camp and pitched well and earned a spot as long man in the bullpen. He came into plenty of games throughout April as the pitchers were still getting stretched out. Then deGrom went down and Dunning stepped right into the rotation and has been maybe their second best starter this season. Him and his wife had a child and he just continues to go out there every fifth day and pitch deep into games. He is having the best season of his career. Dunning is 8-2, with a 2.84 ERA, has six quality starts, and has allowed opposing batters a .236 batting average. If the Rangers trade for a starter it is not a guarantee at this point that Dunning would be the pitcher removed from the rotation.
The next nominee is Nathan Eovaldi. He signed here as a free agent back in December. He came to camp and immediately became the leader of the rotation. Most pitchers on the staff have stories about how Eovaldi has helped them with their mechanics, with their pitches, and just advice on pitching in general. He has embraced that staff mentor role and backed it up with great numbers that earned him a spot in the All-Star game. His most important start came back in April after deGrom was placed on the IL. He went out that night and pitched a complete game shutout against the Yankees and stepped into the role of staff ace. Eovaldi now has 10 wins on the season a team-high. He has a 2.83 ERA in 117 2/3 innings pitched, and has 109 strikeouts to 31 walks this season. He has been the definition of an ace. He has stopped losing streaks and has given the team a chance to win nearly every time he takes the mound. When it is Eovaldi day fans know that the Rangers should win that day.
The final nominee is Corey Seager. The new shift rules were expected to help all left-handed hitters. Last offseason it was discovered by Mike Petriello of MLB.com that no hitter lost more hits to the shift than Seager. It was assumed that with no shift that he would of course be able to increase his batting average this season. He has done that and so much more. He missed a month of the season with a hamstring injury and still has some of the best numbers among all shortstops. He was playing great before the injury and came back from the injury and picked up where he left of. The team has been struggling heading into the break, but not Seager. He has been a consistent source of production this entire season. Seager heads into play on Friday with a .353 batting, a .413 on-base percentage, and and 1.026 OPS. He has 12 home runs, 52 RBIs, and has 38 extra base hits. The 29-year old shortstop is truly living up to the contract he signed back in 2021. His production from the top of the order gives opportunities to the middle of the order to drive in runs. The team has been scuffling the last three weeks, but even so Seager is still hitting. He finished June with a .368 batting average and in the games in July he has a .395 batting average. He is playing the best baseball of his career this season.
The Winner is....
Nathan Eovaldi wins the award for most valuable Texas Ranger. What Eovaldi has done on the field would be reason enough to win this award. He has been their best starting pitcher and maybe the best free agent signing of the off-season. When you combine that with what he has done off the field it is an easy answer for who should win this award. It started in camp when he made sure that the pitchers were watching bullpen sessions even if they were not scheduled to throw. It has continued into the season as pitchers will gather in the bullpen to watch that night's starting pitcher warm up. Players such as Jon Gray and Dane Dunning have both complimented Eovaldi and advice that he has given them. I am sure there are other stories that just have not been told yet. Adding him and Mike Maddux to the pitching staff has helped in ways seen and unseen. He has been through the fires of a pennant race and I am sure he will use that experience to encourage pitchers and position players who have not been through those battles. This team will only go as far as Eovaldi will be able to take them.