Thirty percent of the season is in the books. The Rangers are 22-27, on pace to win 72 games.
Of course, the three biggest surprises are Adolis Garcia on the offensive side, Kyle Gibson in the rotation, and Ian Kennedy in the pen.
Garcia was basically a toss away by the Cardinals, given to the Rangers for $100,000, or one-point-five Nolan Arenado at-bats.
The Rangers actually put him on waivers after acquiring him to make room in their 40-man roster for Mike Foltynewicz. Luckily, nobody snatched him.
Gibson seems to have finally figured it out after eight years of mediocrity, including his first season with the Rangers in 2020, in which he was 2-6 with a 5.35 ERA. This year, he looks like a totally different pitcher.
And Kennedy was a late acquisition that could maybe help the bullpen or the rotation, or maybe not.
The Rangers offense, which was going to be better in 2021 than last season by virtue of it being pretty hard to be worse, has indeed improved. Last year, Texas had the twenty-ninth best offense out of thirty teams, with a team batting average of .217, and on-base percentage of .285. This year, so far, they are twenty-first, at .205 and .307.
Every batter getting regular at-bats has an OPS+ over 100, meaning they are doing better than league average, except for the catcher duo of Jose Trevino (67) and Jonah Heim (70), David Dahl (64), and the third base duo of Brock Holt (100) and Charlie Culberson (94). The offense is, of course, being led by Garcia with his 158 OPS+. He leads the team in home runs, 14, and RBIs, 38.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is having a strong season in his first year replacing Elvis Andrus at short. Same at second, where Nick Solak is head and shoulders, both literally and figuratively, above the previous occupant at second. Nate Lowe is an improvement at first as well.
Gallo has yet to get going or make an impact. But he is always an enigma.
Overall, the Rangers pitching is better in 2021 than last season, too. In 2020, the Rangers staff had the twenty-third best overall ERA at .502, this year, so far, eighteenth at .425. Starters in 2020 were ranked twenty-fourth with a .532 ERA, compared to seventeenth this season at .439. Even the bullpen is better this year: twenty-second as compared to fifteenth, .463 as compared to .407.
While Gibson is the big story, the rest of the rotation is just hanging in. Not great but not horrible. The bullpen has had so many injuries. But that has allowed Ian Kennedy to emerge as one of the league’s best closers. He’s saved eleven and blown only one lead this year.
Gibson, Garcia, and Kennedy are huge surprises. Welcome surprises. You hate to wonder where this team would be without them.