There were many bumps in the road for the World Series Champion Texas Rangers during the 2023 season. It seemed like almost every major player for the Rangers went down at some point with injury. World Series MVP Corey Seager was sidelined due to injuries twice during the season just himself. But the depth and resilience of this team prevailed time and time again, and the guys that stepped up deserve recognition for their role in this Championship.
Examples of the Texas Rangers exhibiting the next man up resilience
Corey Seager went down early with his hamstring injury. He was first placed on the IL this season on April 11. It was an early and significant blow for the Rangers. They were fresh off some significant moves made by GM Chris Young in the off-season and were poised to truly compete for the first time in seven years. It seemed like the Silver Slugger's injury could be a real hiccup in that plan. Enter Ezequiel Duran. Duran played almost every game in the month plus that Seager was out. When Seager returned, Duran was hitting .290 with an .815 OPS and had hit six home runs to go with 20 RBI's since Seager was put on the IL. His production during this stretch was crucial to the team's success.
Next, ace Jacob deGrom went down. He was Chris Young's emphatic move of last offseason. Signing Jacob deGrom signaled that the Rangers were looking to win now. So when it was announced on June 6 that deGrom would be undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time, it was another huge blow to the Rangers. But again, someone was there to step up. Dane Dunning stepped into a starting role out of the bullpen and provided valuable, quality outings to aid a starting rotation down their best arm. He finished the 2023 season with a solid 3.70 ERA and 12 wins.
AL All-Star starting Catcher Jonah Heim also spent time on the IL this season. He went down with a wrist injury on July 26 in Houston. It truly seemed the Rangers could not catch a break at times this season. That's when Mitch Garver stepped in to embody once again, the Rangers next man up mentality. Garver raised his average from .255 to .282 and OPS from .775 to .844 between July 26 and August 12, the time Heim was on the IL. He added three home runs and 10 RBI's in the 14 games Heim missed as well.
ALCS MVP Adolis Garcia was also hit by the injury bug. He injured his right knee on September 6 against the Astros while attempting a web gem catch in right field. That's when The Kid himself was called up, Evan Carter. Every Rangers fan knows the rest. Carter dazzled for the Rangers immediately. By the time Garcia returned to action on September 18, Carter was hitting .321 with a staggering .980 OPS since his major league debut. He racked up eight hits, three RBI's, seven walks, and a couple stolen bases in the nine games Adolis missed. His impact was significant and immediate.
The Rangers even faced a bit of injury adversity during the playoffs as well. Max Scherzer left with an injury after the third inning of Game 3 of the World Series and would be ruled out for the rest of the postseason later on. As was characteristic of this team, someone else stepped up. Jon Gray picked up where Scherzer left off and provided three crucial innings of relief. He pitched three scoreless while striking out three and only allowing one hit.
Adolis Garcia went down again in Game 3 of the World Series as well. This was a crushing blow as he had just set the single postseason RBI record for an individual player in Game 1 of the World Series. He had been on fire and real concern set in for Rangers fans when it was announced he would be done for the postseason like Scherzer. Travis Jankowski didn't miss a beat and responded with two hits and two RBI's while filling in for Garcia in right field the very next game.
Injuries and adversity were a constant for this team, yet they did not let it stop them. The players often echoed each other when asked about the repeated blows they faced throughout the season: "next man up mentality". They truly embodied that statement better than any team I can remember. I, along with all Rangers fans, am thankful for the incredible resiliency of this team and it's why they are World Series Champions.