Coming into this season, the Rangers offense was supposed to be better. They added Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Mitch Garver.
Those three were brought in to start filling in the massive gaps in the lineup. Offensively, it was a roster that looked like it was attacked by the gopher in Caddy Shack. Holes everywhere. Even the holes had holes.
There wasn’t a single position that didn’t need a major upgrade.
Seager replaced Kiner-Falefa. That’s a major upgrade offensively and defensively.
Semien replaced, in essense, Rougned Odor. A one-armed blind man would have been an upgrade over Odor. Semien is a major upgrade.
Then, out of nowhere, Nathanial Lowe took a major step forward has earned his spot at first. So, in essense, the Rangers have gotten a major upgrade at first as well. Someone just needs to teach him how to field his position. If not, DH him and keep his bat in the lineup.
When Texas traded for Mitch Garver, who is often hurt and was often hurt, they had no idea Jonah Heim would emerge like he did. But Heim needs major work behind the plate. He cannot throw out runners and struggles catching the ball at times. Still, with Garver and Heim, the Rangers have gotten significantly better at that position offensively.
Fingers crossed but Leody Taveras might be the first success story of the Jon Daniels development era. And it took only seventeen years.
His defense was never in doubt. It was his inability to hit that was the problem. And it was a huge problem.
Taveras’s OPS+ in 2021 was 30. That means he was 70 percent below league average offensively. But he was only twenty-two. And promise always seems to get chances to come to fruition.
What he’s doing this year seems real. He’s been in sixty games now. He’s hitting .296 and has been hovering there the entire year. His OPS isn’t stellar. But that’s because he’s not a power guy. And that’s okay. He should be leading off, using his speed to disrupt the opposing pitcher, and setting the table for the two, three, and four hitters. Last year, they forced him to leadoff when he wasn’t ready and it crushed him. This year, they seem to be just letting him get his confidence. Hopefully they move him back to leadoff next year when he’s ready.
So, a team that needed a major upgrade in every single slot in their lineup heading into 2022 seems to have a good start on being competitive. Catcher, first, second, short, and center are nailed down. Third, too, with Josh Jung on the verge taking over as the Rangers starting third baseman. Fill in the gaping hole in left with a bona fide can’t-miss All-Star-caliber bat, find either a DH or a first baseman who brings a fielder’s glove with him (and move Lowe to DH), and this offense might suddenly be more than respectable.
It’s a far cry from where they were just one year ago.
Now they just need a rotation.