Monday, July 4, 2022

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Home Sports Baseball The Hopes and Dreams for the New and Improved Texas Rangers

The Hopes and Dreams for the New and Improved Texas Rangers

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The Hopes and Dreams for the New and Improved Texas Rangers
Superstar players Corey Seager and Marcus Semien

The sharp, piercing noise of the wooden bats, the electrifying plays made by the players, and the delicious ballpark foods all return as Major League Baseball is finally underway. As the glorious aspects of baseball have finally returned, many have questioned what the Texas Rangers have in store after a variety of major signings in the offseason. However, are these signings capable of lifting the Rangers into a playoff berth, or will the Rangers organization continue to find themselves in a recurring cycle of disappointment?

Past Seasons

Historically, the Texas Rangers have had a fair share of ups and downs as they still continue to search for their first World Series ring. In the past decade, this franchise showed immediate talent and poise in the years 2010 and 2011, appearing in the World Series in back to back years after securing two 90 plus win seasons. Yet, even in seasons that appear to be hopeful, the Texas Rangers always manage to fall short of the highly esteemed “Commissioner’s Trophy,” the trophy awarded to the team at the end of the year who wins the World Series. Two prime examples of this sheer disappointment occurred in both 2011, the World Series appearance against the St. Louis Cardinals, and in 2016, the American League Divisional Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Still to this day, many Texas Rangers fans struggle to accept the outcome of the 2011 World Series, in which a powerful and dynamic baseball squad was one out away from  claiming their first ever World Series Championship. However, a devastating hit by David Freeze in the ninth inning allowed the Cardinals to jump back right into Game 6, leaving the players and Ranger fans in utter shock and denial. A similar experience occurred in 2016, where the Texas Rangers had the second best record in the MLB behind the World Series Champions the Chicago Cubs. Many anticipated this Rangers squad to make a reappearance in the World Series; however, this was not the case after Jose Bautista displayed one of the most notable moments in the history of baseball, hitting a monstrous home run in the seventh inning to punch his team a ticket to the next round of the playoffs, sending the Rangers home and marking yet another year of unfinished business. As of 2017, the Texas Rangers have only gone downhill, losing veteran players such as Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and Yu Darvish, forcing the Rangers to scramble over the past years in order to hopefully find players that can fill these holes. Specifically, in these past seasons, the Rangers have yet to secure a winning record. The team finished with a measly 78 wins in 2017 and 2019, six games below 500. Additionally, the rangers capped off one of the worst seasons in franchise history last year, finishing second to last in the MLB with a record of 60 wins and 102 losses. It seems as if there is only one direction for the Texas Rangers to go, and that direction is up with glimmers of hope on the new roster. 

Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, 2011 Texas Rangers World Series Team

 

Rising Stars 

 

With continuous disheartening Ranger seasons, the Rangers are finally showing qualities of strength in their roster, possessing a wide range of offensive firepower and strong, dominant bullpen and starting pitchers. The first name that has sparked excitement among the Rangers fanbase is starting pitcher Jack Leiter. By having one of the worst records in the MLB, the Texas Rangers luckily secured the most prolific and sought after prospect who pitched at Vanderbilt. In college, Leiter made a memorable debut, tallying a 1.92 ERA with 22 strikeouts. ERA stands for earned run average, meaning that every time Jack Leiter took the mound, the opposing teams averaged a little under 2 runs, a statistic that is highly impressive and reputable in the baseball world. Leiter has a wide array of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, with the fastball being one of his most dominant pitches. While in the minors currently, Leiter offers great depth and potential to the Rangers young starting rotation, and he will be especially helpful as the Rangers pitching has been a weakness for quite some time. With this being said, a dominant right handed starting pitcher would be profoundly beneficial to the Rangers in the future. On top of Jack Leiter, the Rangers also have a bright prospect named Cole Winn. Cole Winn attended Orange Lutheran High School and was immediately drafted by the Rangers out of high school in the 2018 MLB draft. He is currently pitching for the Rangers Triple A minor league affiliated team, the Round Rock Express, in which he has an astounding 1.13 earned run average. Ideally, the Rangers could possibly give both Cole Winn and Jack Leiter a call to the big leagues next year, giving them both minimal time to hone their craft before they take a leap up to the big leagues. It would be in the Texas Rangers best interest to pull both of these pitchers up as fast as possible given their current dire pitching situation. Regarding offensive firepower, another highly evaluated player is Josh Jung, a third baseman who attended Texas Tech University. Jung fits in well with the Rangers roster through his unprecedented batting power, being known as a player of pure power and strength as he makes his waves through the organization. He can be a vital part of this organization as the Rangers hitters are predominantly contact hitters, possessing only one or two current starting players who are capable of hitting an ample amount of home runs. After losing Joey Gallo to the yankees, the Rangers lost one of their most dependable power hitters, enhancing Josh Jung’s value significantly as he offers great assistance to this team. He also exemplifies stellar fielding attributes as his strong arm at third base would fill one of the Rangers biggest needs. Lastly, another promising prospect is Sam Huff, a two position player capable of playing first base and catcher. Huff is a large man; however, he demonstrates unforeseen agility for his size and is able to move around well. Being an aggressive hitter acts as his most significant player attribute, adding great depth to the lineup.  

Highly esteemed prospect Jack Leiter

Offseason Signings

After many silent and unproductive off-seasons in the recent seasons, the Texas Rangers made an ample amount of monstrous signings and trades, receiving high caliber and elite talent capable of doing a lot of damage. To start off, the Rangers formulated a colossal deal with the veteran shortstop of the Dodgers, Corey Seager, negotiating a contract of 325 million dollars for 10 years. With this deal, Corey Seager is tied for ninth for the highest paid players in the league, making roughly 32.5 million dollars a year. Throughout his career, Corey Seager has accumulated a variety of awards, including being the 2020 World Series Most Valuable Player, two time silver slugger, and 2016 Rookie of the Year. While many view his hitting as the most valuable asset to the Texas Rangers, I feel as if his fielding skills are overlooked and can be extremely effective for this baseball squad. Although he is not the first player that immediately comes to mind when one thinks about the most electrifying fielder, Corey Seager is a calm, poised, and athletic player who deserves more attention for his outstanding fielding. From 2018-2022, Seager has had one season where he has made over ten errors. One of his best fielding seasons occurred in 2021, where he recorded only 8 errors in 95 games, making an error roughly every 12 games. The rangers have been forced to move a bunch of players around in the recent years when in the field, lacking the presence of a true and dynamic infielder such as Corey. With the addition of Corey Seager, the Rangers are bound to exemplify serious improvement. Next, making the Texas Rangers one of the most potent middle infields in the league, the Rangers signed second baseman Marcus Semien from the Blue Jays for 175 million dollars over seven years, making 25 million dollars a year. In the past three years, Marcus Semien has been an arguable top five player in baseball, making a name for himself through his stellar fielding abilities and unrivaled hitting power. One of Marcus Semien’s most impressive stats manifests through his WAR, a stat that shows how much better or worse a player is in comparison to a typical player. In 2019 and 2021, Marcus Semien acquired an fWAR over 6.5 in both years. To place this statistic into perspective, a superstar player will typically amass a fWAR of 5-6, tangible evidence that supports Marcus Semien’s breathtaking performance in recent years. With the addition of Marcus Semien, the Rangers have secured a player with additional power and consistency on the batting side, but more importantly, a player with phenomenal fielding attributes as he just recently won the 2021 Golden Glove Award this past season. Aside from these two enormous signings, the Rangers have also made smaller moves that fortify the depth of this roster, including pitcher John Gray, outfielder Kole Calhoun, and catcher Mitch Garver. Mitch Garver brings forth solid hitting abilities for a catcher, filling one of the weakest spots on the Texas Rangers lineup. Also, John Gray offers a new arm to a young pitching rotation and will most likely be added towards the front of the rotation. 

Superstar players Corey Seager and Marcus Semien

Current Performance 

 

While the Rangers current start to the season has been both underwhelming and disappointing, there have been a variety of statistics that still radiate hope for this baseball team. Losing the first series to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rangers still managed to exemplify ample offensive improvement from the previous seasons, specifically as they lead the league in runs scored through the first four games of the season. Through this stat, it shows that the Rangers have been slightly unlucky through the beginning of the season, losing games regardless of their impressive offensive performance. While there are games that appear unlucky, there have also been a large number of games that should evoke feelings of concern and worry, as it seems like the rangers hitting is either electric or completely non-existent. Consistency seems to be an emerging problem for this team, and in order to make their way up in the standings, the Rangers need to play sharp in all aspects of the game as there always seems to be one major weakness every game. Additionally, one major concern stems from the performance of Marcus Semien, the Rangers new signing over the offseason. As mentioned earlier, Marcus Semien is typically a dominant player in the league; however, his start to the season has been atrociously difficult to watch. Currently possessing the lowest average on the team along with a few errors, Marcus Semien is still attempting to locate a solution to his terrible performances over the past few weeks. At this point, it seems as if Marcus Semien is battling with confidence issues as a result of consistent poor performances. Hopefully he is able to escape this extensive slump as the Rangers season is dependent on his performance, being a player that is very much capable of lifting teams to success.  

 

Season Predictions 

 

Although the Rangers have made astounding steps forward in the right direction, there are still many pieces necessary in order for the Rangers to be a championship contender. I personally can see the Rangers finishing the season right below 500, at 80 wins and 82 losses. The season is very dependent on the Rangers young roster and their performance. With this being said, there is a lot of development necessary for the Rangers to finally look promising. Hopefully players such as Corey Seager and Marcus Semien as well as the coaching staff can unlock further potential in young players like Adolis Garcia, Nathaniel Lowe, and Andy Ibáñez. Also, if young pitchers such as Dane Dunning continue to show major improvement, then the Rangers should be well on track to appear in the playoffs in the near future.