Despite missing its catalyst, the Rangers offense continues to roll.
When Corey Seager, the star shortstop, prized free agent acquisition, and offensive leader of the team, went down with hamstring issues just eleven games into the season, it appeared it was going to be the Rangers lineup that was hamstrung.
Seager was raking. Hitting .359, with an OPS of 1.008. His OPS+ was 181, meaning he was 81 percent better than the major league average.
That’s good. And that’s a huge hole to fill. The Rangers tried Josh Smith there. Good guy. Good glove. Not much of a bat. He’s hit .125 as a Seager’s replacement. So the Rangers went to Ezequiel Duran, the other infielder they got from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo deal.
Duran has been huge for the Rangers. Hitting .313, he’s gotten on base in sixteen straight games. He’s hitting for average, getting extra-base hits, driving in runs, and playing great defense.
With Duran at short, the Rangers haven’t skipped a beat. Which begs the question, what do you do with him when Corey Seager comes back, which is supposed to be in a week to ten days?
The obvious answer is: you put him in left. The Rangers have been desperately trying to fill that slot for years. Unable to make a trade for a high-leverage bat, they picked up Robbie Grossman and Travis Jankowsky at the end of the offseason as placeholders.
But Jankowski’s offensive numbers are about identical with Duran’s, with a bit less pop. Jankowski, however, can play center. The Rangers could use an upgrade there.
Corey Seager’s eventual return will put a lot if wheels in motion. It would be hard, and a real shame, to sit Ezequiel Duran.
The guy just keeps on hitting.