As the Rangers start picking up the pieces of a last-place finish and the continued downward spiral of the franchise, look around the rest of the division and league and it’s apparent just how far this team has to go.
Sure, picking up a Lance Lynn helps. But it’s like giving a grain of rice to a starving man. It’s like throwing a cotton ball to a drowning man.
The Rangers are much closer to the bottom of the barrel than they are to even sniffing a wild card. This team finished thirty-six games out of first place. And thirty games from a wild card spot.
Thirty games from mediocrity.
Kevin Sherington pointed out recently in The Dallas Morning News that the last time the Rangers finished so far behind their division leader was 2001. It took nine seasons for the team to recover.
There is no reason to think anything different here. It’s not just as easy as stockpiling prospects. Who is evaluating those prospects? What is being done to ensure they are nurtured to the peak of their effectiveness? Will enough of those prospects actually pan out?
You need pitching to win. The Rangers have never been able to develop pitching. But in all fairness, it’s only been 47 years. We can’t rush things. Be patient, remember, this game-changing crop of Rangers pitching is only two years away. Maybe three. At most another 47. It’s coming. The front office said so.
It’s the same front office that declared they were all in last year, then assembled the pitching staff that ranked twenty-eight out of thirty in team ERA in 2018 at 4.92. The only teams worse were one-hundred-loss train wrecks Kansas City and Baltimore. If you narrow it down to starters, the Rangers were next to last, barely edging the woeful Orioles 5.37 to 5.48. And only the Orioles had a worse WHIP, walks plus hits per inning.
Interestingly, while the Rangers hitters struck out the fourth most of all MLB teams, their pitching struck out the fewest hitters in baseball. The Astros led all of baseball, some 511 more than Texas.
Okay, so the Rangers put together a staff that lives off contact. You can win that way. Yes, if only the Rangers didn’t have the worst defense in the American League. Texas made the most errors and had the lowest fielding percentage in 2018.
What a mess.
At least they have that young core offense to look forward to. The offense that hit just one point higher than the Orioles who lost 114 games. The offense that averaged 9.16 strikeouts per game. That translates to three innings of no offense. This team is playing a six-inning game.
So, to sum it up, Texas is building off the third worst pitching, the worst defense, and second worst offense.
This is no mere rebuild. It’s a total transformation.
Be patient. It took only 107 years for the Cubs. The Rangers are almost halfway there.