AL West Primer: Texas Rangers

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After a troublesome 2021, the Texas Rangers pivoted this offseason making headline-grabbing roster upgrades. Did the Rangers do sufficient to contend this yr? The place are the potential holes holding the membership from returning to the postseason? We’ll take into account these questions and extra in our preseason primer.

First, let’s mirror on the 2021 model of the Rangers.

Robust To Watch

Texas endured a 102-loss marketing campaign marking the franchise’s fifth consecutive dropping season. Throughout the AL West division, supervisor Chris Woodward and crew completed in final place, 35 video games behind cross-state rival and eventual AL-champion Houston Astros.

From an offensive standpoint, getting on base was notably difficult. Solely three Rangers with 200-plus plate appearances had an OBP above the .317 MLB-average. That stated, the group was a bottom-feeder in lots of extra offensive classes.

Texas pitchers carried out higher than the offense, however not by a lot. The employees ranked within the backside 20% in runs allowed/sport, house runs allowed, and opponent AVG and xwOBA. The bullpen wasn’t distinctive. Nevertheless it was higher than a beginning rotation that was arguably the least efficient in baseball.

Most of what we’ve mentioned in regards to the Rangers so far is a mirrored image of a roster that’s obtained a big overhaul with adjustments starting final summer season.

Notable departures: Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Mike Foltynewicz, Jordan Lyles, Jose Trevino, Jharel Cotton, Jason Martin, Brock Holt, Joe Palumbo, Ronald Guzmán, and John Hicks.

A Work In Progress

GM Chris Young continued his group’s makeover within the offseason by signing coveted infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien and starter Jon Gray to multi-year offers. The second-year GM and former Mariner additionally added utility-man Brad Miller, outfielder Kole Calhoun and catcher Mitch Garver to bolster the offense. Younger additionally inked former Rangers starter Martín Pérez, relievers Garrett Richards and Greg Holland, outfielder Jake Marisnick and infielder Matt Carpenter.

Place Gamers

Because the Rangers are a rebuilding membership with a bevy of younger gamers on the brink making the majors, the roster will doubtless stay in a state of flux all through the season. Right here’s the present forged of characters Woodward will doubtless be directing.

Key Place Gamers
1B – Nathaniel Lowe
2B – Marcus Semien
SS – Corey Seager
3B – Andy Ibáñez
LF – Nick Solak
CF – Adolis García
RF – Kole Calhoun
DH – Willie Calhoun
C – Mitch Garver
IF/OF – Brad Miller
INF/OF – Charlie Culberson
IF/OF – Eli White
OF – Jake Marisnick

Offseason acquisitions

Probably the most dramatic adjustments to the lineup come within the type of Semien, Seager, and Garver. Semien performed in each sport final season hitting a career-high 45 house runs and 39 doubles, whereas slashing .265/.334/.538 with an outstanding 133 OPS+.

On-base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+) is a normalized model of OPS that adjusts for park and league situations. OPS+ is scaled so 100 is at all times league-average. In consequence, an OPS+ of 150 means a hitter was 50-percent extra productive than the common participant. An 80 OPS+ could be 20-percent under common.

Clearly, Semien represents a significant improve to the lineup. However I’ve puzzled whether or not his new house park might have an effect on his season stats. Final season, 75.7% of fly balls hit at Globe Life Area had been transformed into outs. That was the fifth highest charge in MLB. In the meantime, Semien’s 36.7% fly ball charge was eighth highest amongst hitters with 300-plus batted balls. Will the brand new yard in Arlington have an effect on the 31-year-old’s manufacturing transferring ahead?

Final yr, Seager had a formidable .306/.394/.521 slash-line with 16 house runs and a 145 OPS+ in 95 video games. However that 95-game tally could possibly be a foreboding signal. Within the final 4 seasons, the 27-year-old has appeared in 56.2% of his group’s video games attributable to a wide range of maladies – Tommy John surgery, decrease leg and again accidents, and a fractured wrist. Contemplating the 10-year/$325 million dedication the Rangers made to the North Carolina native, his availability is essential to the group’s short- and long-term viability.

When wholesome, Garver is among the higher hitting catchers in baseball. In 2021, his 139 OPS+ was third greatest amongst backstops with 200-plus plate appearances trailing solely Yasmani Grandal (157) and Buster Posey (140). However the 31-year-old has performed in 100 video games simply as soon as in 5 big-league seasons. Final yr, he made 56 begins for Minnesota. This reality heightens the significance of Garver’s backups.

Jonah Heim can be Garver’s understudy with prospect Sam Huff ready within the wings. With 6 defensive runs saved (DRS), Heim proved to be a wonderful defender final yr. That stated, he’s but to be productive with the bat in restricted alternatives. Time will inform what Heim and Huff turn out to be for Texas.

Two productive full-timers from final season’s squad are Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García.

The left-handed hitting Lowe produced a .264/.357/.415 slash with 24 doubles, 18 house runs, and a 113 OPS+. Lowe proved to be the lineup’s most constant bat. The longest interval the 26-year-old went with out reaching base was three video games, which solely occurred twice all season.

García, who completed fourth in AL Rookie of the 12 months voting, slugged a team-leading 31 house runs. He additionally was an outstanding defender with 16 DRS with no consideration fielder and heart fielder. It’s well worth the 29-year-old’s offensive manufacturing pale later within the yr. In the course of the first half of the season, he had a 130 OPS+ in comparison with a 68 OPS+ after the All-Star break.

As a rookie in 2021, Andy Ibáñez performed a number of positions offering stable protection (8 DRS) and respectable offense (107 OPS+) in 76 video games. This yr, the 29-year-old will doubtless spend plenty of time at third base. Different potential scorching nook choices out there to Woodward embody Miller, plus fellow veterans Charlie Culberson and Carpenter.

Two Calhouns – Willie and Kole – might doubtlessly assist the lineup. However every ballplayer has handled accidents these days. Identified for his bat expertise, Willie has struggled to remain wholesome struggling a wide range of fractures and decrease physique strains throughout his 5 MLB seasons. It’s value noting the 27-year-old’s profession OPS+ is 87.

Final yr, Kole landed on the IL thrice attributable to a knee damage and hamstring strains. All advised, the 34-year-old hit a career-low 5 house runs in 51 video games. That’s three fewer contests than he appeared in throughout a truncated 2020 season.

Nick Solak was the group’s second baseman final yr after making begins in left subject, heart subject, and at third base in 2019-20. This yr, he seems to be the group’s preliminary selection for left subject. It’s value noting the 27-year-old has a below-average 93 OPS+ in 879 plate appearances.

Outfielder Eli White, rehabbing from a torn UCL, most likely received’t be prepared till late April. That stated, he’s been enjoying the outfield in Spring Coaching, which suggests his restoration goes properly. White, together with 23-year-old Leody Taveras, might issue into the outfield combine because the season progresses.

Rotation

The veteran tandem of Grey and Pérez headline the beginning employees together with inexperienced kids Taylor Hearn, Dane Dunning, and Spencer Howard. The potential for instability seems excessive.

Projected Rotation
Jon Gray

Martín Pérez
Dane Dunning
Taylor Hearn
A.J. Alexy

Rotation Depth
Kolby Allard
Glenn Otto
Yerry Rodriguez
Brock Burke
Matt Moore
Kohei Arihara

Offseason acquisitions

One thing to observe with Grey and Pérez. A brand new house ballpark could doubtlessly have an effect on every hurler in numerous methods.

With the Rockies final yr, Grey defied logic by having higher stats at hitter’s paradise Coors Area than on the street. His 4.02 ERA in Denver’s mile-high elevation was significantly better than what he produced at sea degree (5.22). His superior metrics additionally mirrored this abnormality. The appropriate-hander’s .294 xwOBA in Colorado was significantly better than his average-ish .319 xwOBA on the street.

Anticipated Weighted On-Base Common (xwOBA) makes use of high quality of contact (exit velocity and launch angle) to find out what ought to’ve occurred to batted balls. A key benefit to xwOBA is protection (good or unhealthy) doesn’t affect it. This provides us a more true sense of how a hitter or pitcher is performing. MLB league-average xwOBA final yr = .316

Pitching in Fenway Park definitely didn’t assist Pérez in 2021. The southpaw was a lot nearer to league-average (3.72 ERA) when on the street in comparison with his house ERA (5.64). I’m not suggesting pitching away from Boston immediately fixes Pérez, though he ought to show to be a reliable arm for Woodward.

Bullpen

The Rangers head into the season with a gaggle of relievers consisting of some recognizable names, stable performers from 2021, and a gaggle of untested relievers.

Bullpen Candidates
Greg Holland
Joe Barlow
Brett Martin
Garrett Richards
Josh Sborz
John King
Albert Abreu
Nick Snyder
Dennis Santana
Spencer Patton
Demarcus Evans
Justin Anderson
Dan Winkler
Jesús Tinoco
Brandon Workman

Offseason acquisitions

Veteran reliever Greg Holland might issue into the late-inning combine, though his .359 xwOBA suggests he didn’t have a specific efficient 2021 with the Kansas Metropolis Royals.

Opponents teed off (.300 AVG, .374 xwOBA) on Garrett Richards as a starter with Boston final yr. That stated, the 33-year-old discovered success as a reliever for the Sawx over the ultimate six weeks of the season (.240 AVG, .280 xwOBA).

Efficient short-relief arms coming back from final season embody John King (.282 xwOBA), Joe Barlow (.286), Brett Martin (.290), and Josh Sborz (.303). All ought to play key roles in the course of the early components of the season. Barlow seems in line to shut video games since he saved 11 video games for the Rangers final yr.

Having stated all that, it’s attainable there aren’t many wins for the bullpen to safe this season.

They Can Hit, However…

The lineup must be higher after final season’s underwhelming run manufacturing effort. Nonetheless, the Rangers could battle to stop extra runs than they rating. Even with the additions of Seager, Semien, and Garver to the lineup.

Final season, the Rangers wanted 14 starters to navigate via troublesome occasions. This yr can be no simpler with fewer established arms out there to assist. Past Grey and Pérez, this isn’t a lot certainty. That doesn’t imply kids like Hearn, Dunning, and Howard can’t contribute or received’t develop because the season progresses. However they continue to be unproven commodities, for now.

Realistically, the Rangers most likely battle however show causes to be optimistic about 2023 and past. That’s a not a foul factor. With this in thoughts, I think Younger strikes pending free brokers, efficient relievers, and maybe position gamers (like Miller) previous to the MLB commerce deadline in July.

Doubtlessly Fascinating Leases
Martín Pérez
Garrett Richards ($1 million membership possibility)
Kole Calhoun
Greg Holland
Jake Marisnick
Matt Carpenter

Maybe the Rangers overperform my expectations and shock within the AL West. However that seems to be a bridge too far contemplating the present state of the beginning employees.

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Luke Arkins

Luke is a local New Yorker, who grew up as a Mets fan. After the US Navy moved him to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, he determined to make Seattle his house.

In 2014, Luke joined the Prospect Insider group. Throughout baseball season, he can typically be discovered observing the native group at T-Cell Park.

You possibly can observe Luke on Twitter @luke_arkins

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