The Texas Rangers got off the family room couch a few years ago and have now approached the door to Major League Baseball’s basement; times are tough in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers are 16-30, which is good for last place in the AL West. The struggles are widespread.
Their offense has been nowhere to be found. As a whole, the Rangers offense is 27th in MLB in hits (320) and 29th in runs (172), batting average (.217), and OPS (.648).
Danny Santana and Willie Calhoun, who are steady line-drive hitters and each posted an OPS in excess of .840 last season, have played in a combined 33 games this season due to injuries. Meanwhile, Joey Gallo, who posted a .986 OPS over 70 games last season, has been significantly less impactful at the plate compared to last season, as he’s hitting just .192.
The aforementioned players need to get back to their 2019 ways. A positive development for the Rangers has been Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The infielder has been creating offense near the top of first-year manager Chris Woodward‘s lineup, hitting .316.
At the same time, the Rangers relying on three bounce-back seasons and the continued development of a young player isn’t enough to pose a steady offensive attack next season. Regarding 2021, Texas’ starting rotation is a guessing game.
Lance Lynn has been superb this season (he has posted a 2.52 ERA and 69 strikeouts across 10 starts), but he’s a year away from hitting the open market; will he be moved for value in the offseason? Free agent signees Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles are having discouraging seasons; Kolby Allard is struggling to get into a groove at the big-league level.
The bright spot for the Rangers has been their bullpen, which has several young hurlers who are answering the bell on a consistent basis such as Jonathan Hernandez, Jimmy Herget, Rafael Montero, and Joely Rodriguez. Hard-throwing reliever Jose Leclerc, who posts strikeouts at a high rate, made just two appearances this season before suffering a shoulder injury.
With that said, what is a great bullpen with an unreliable starting rotation? The pen won’t feel the effects of such a rotation in a 60-game season, as they can pitch at a high clip for two months and not take a sizable toll. A 162-game season is a different story, as teams have to play the long game and injuries pile up.
This is a roster with a mix of young players entering their primes and players in the middle or near the end of their careers (Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Shin-Soo Choo). A deep-rooted young core isn’t present. The Rangers were a compelling team in a projected-to-be tough division two months ago. They ended up being one of the worst teams in the sport in a division that has been disappointing.
How are the Seattle Mariners, who have been a black hole over the last year and a half, better than the Rangers? The Los Angeles Angels have been stagnant yet again this season, but they’re still better than the Rangers. What happens if the Angels play better next season: are the Rangers the worst team in the AL West again? By the way, the Houston Astros are .500, and the Oakland Athletics are a World Series contender.
Let’s look at the other two AL divisions: how many teams in both the AL East and AL Central are the Rangers in a better situation than? You could debate that they have the worst outlook of any team in the AL moving forward, which is a product of depth in the league and the Rangers falling behind.
Let’s say the Rangers opt to rebuild in the offseason: what’s the timeline for a turnaround? It’s easy to say a team should rebuild or that they should go all in on an offseason to contend. What players can Texas get value for in a trade? Are the Rangers a free agent hotspot and/or in a position to make a flurry of impactful signings? Do they have the organizational depth to make a blockbuster trade?
The Texas Rangers are stuck in the middle of nowhere. There are few players for them to trade and little to pinpoint as progress. There are few teams in the sport relying so heavily on their ability to develop reliable MLB players in the farm as the Rangers are.