Without a doubt, 2019 was a frustrating year for the Texas Rangers. A promising start to a season ended nearly as soon as it began. Critical injuries severely crippled the lineup and a very weak third base and catcher positions kept this team from reaching .500. As a result, the season ultimately became more about honoring the players of the past as well as giving a good send off to a beautiful ballpark.
However, this team is not without hope. There were a lot of bright spots and positives about the future of this team. For now, let’s review on what will be a forgotten season and focus on what they can do to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy to Arlington.
Positive: Starting Pitching
An interesting bright spot for the Texas Rangers this year was their pitching rotation. The combination of Mike Minor and Lance Lynn was an amazing one-two punch nearly all year. These two were practically unstoppable and eventually led to Mike Minor’s first All-Star bid. However, the remainder of the rotation continued to stifle the front office.
The Rangers shuffled pitcher after pitcher into the third to fifth slots in the rotation, hoping that something would eventually stick. Thankfully, Ariel Jurado became a somewhat fair third man in the rotation, but this rotation is dangerously thin beyond that. If the team can pick up some lesser known free agents using their sabermetric team, it could be a decent solution for the upcoming season.
Negative: Third Base
The one glaring difference between the 2018 and 2019 seasons was the absence of future Hall of Famer Adrián Beltré. The team’s energy just was not the same as it was last year, and the chemistry nearly always seemed off. Statistically speaking, Asdrúbal Cabrera’s bat just was not the same as his counterpart, hitting only .235 with an OPS of .711. This is just not enough production from a high-caliber position. This is part of the reason why he was designated for assignment on Aug. 1.
This team needs to have a Beltré-type player back at the Hot Corner. A big splash signing during the offseason would be the perfect move in order to solidify this position long-term. There are a lot of third basemen on the market this offseason, which very well might have been JD’s plan all along. However, in order to bring this plan to fruition, he is going to have to bring his checkbook.
The Rangers could arguably have the deepest outfield in all of baseball. With the combination of Joey Gallo, Shin-Soo Choo, Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields and Hunter Pence, this squad has the ability to do some serious damage. Other than Mazara and DeShields, each one of these players had an OPS above .800 and all players had an OPS above .700. That is some serious production.
The one thing the outfield needs to work on is stay healthy. Both Gallo and Pence went down with season-ending injuries, which effectively ended the Ranger’s season. However, if both these players can come back and replicate their production, they could be the foundation to take this team to even greater heights.
Negative: Rougned Odor
Where do we even begin with Odor? This has been the most bizarre season for the Ranger’s second baseman. I do not know if I can remember a year where a player hit under .200 for most of the season while still hitting 30 HRs and having an OPS above .700. However, what should concern Odor is the continued success of his backup, Danny Santana. Santana was considerably more productive and stable at second base. This season, he batted .283 with an OPS of .857. He also seemed to have a very good chemistry with the other infielders, mostly with Elvis.
This being said, it would be a huge mistake for Santana to not be starting at second next year. Rougned Odor had three years with the Rangers to prove himself. Unfortunately, it seems like he turned out to be a one-hit wonder. It is time for the Rangers to look for a trade partner to see if they can get anything of value for him.
By far, the weakest position that no one is talking about is catcher. The Rangers have a history of producing amazing All-Star caliber catchers with the likes of Iván Rodríguez, Bengie Molina, Robinson Chirinos and Mike Napoli. However, since the 2011 season, this position seems to have been an afterthought. The 2019 made this weakness even more obvious. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been a decent catcher but with third base wide-open, he was used more as a utility player instead of a full-time catcher.
Still, after Kiner-Falefa, who do the Rangers have as a real second catcher? Jeff Mathis had a dismal bat with an average of .158 and an OPS of .433. Tim Federowicz was not much more productive, batting .160 and an OPS of .559. Jose Trevino had decent stats this season, batting .258 and an OPS of .655. But he only played 26 games: a full 10 games less than Mathis. At the end of the day, this position needs a lot of work. Catching duties need to be evenly split between Kinder-Falefa and Trevino next season. This is a short-term solution which will need more work throughout the next season.
Positive: Honoring Former Players and Globe Life Park
I would like to end this season on a positive note. As was mentioned previously, the second half of this season eventually became a farewell tour for all the great memories of Globe Life Park. Among these were the retiring of both #29 and #10 for Adrián Beltré and Michael Young, respectively. Along with this, the Rangers inducted Josh Hamilton into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. These moments brought tears to the eyes of many as we looked back to the highlights at Globe Life.
Throughout this season, the Rangers broadcast panned the camera over to the progress of the new ballpark. This eventually hit home the real purpose of this season: rebuilding and looking forward. Especially if the front office does their job during the offseason, without a doubt the kickoff to the 2020 season will be as energetic as it was 10 years ago. The future really is bright for this young team. Assuming everyone can stay healthy, they absolutely have an opportunity to be AL West and World Series contenders within the next two to five years.
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