Welcome back, Ronald Guzman. The Rangers could really really use someone at first who can catch the ball. When you think about it, that’s the really the most important part of the deal.
In fact, if you were writing a job description for the position of first base, it would be:
1. Catch the ball.
2. Step on first.
Defense at first makes all the difference in the world. Which explains why the Rangers are near the bottom in unearned runs allowed in the American League, eleventh-most out of fifteen teams.
Trouble is, Guzman couldn’t hit. And since he didn’t have the benefit of having been signed to a long-term contract, he wasn’t automatically inserted into the lineup like so many of his teammates who he out-produced.
Guzman was given the first base job in 2018 but, even though he possesses Gold Glove-caliber defense, he couldn’t hit enough to hang onto it. Unfortunately for him, a lineup can carry only so many offensively challenged players. They could hide Guzman in a lineup with one or two. The Rangers have nine.
He started the second game of this season, picked up one hit in four at-bats (putting him among the Rangers leaders), then was sent to the alternative training site for more than a month.
Yesterday, he started his second-straight game at first and his defense has already saved two throwing errors and who knows how many unearned runs.
He went 3-for-3 with a double and a towering home run. What’s interesting is that a player like Rougned Odor struggles so much more than Guzman ever has but is put in the lineup day in and day out with the rationale that he can’t get better if he doesn’t play. (Never mind the more he plays, the worse he gets.)
It’s time to afford Guzman that luxury. Let him play. If he fails, he fails. And he will fit right in with his teammates.
Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 0.00) vs. Kyle Gibson (1-3, 5.73)