Guilty of doubting Leody Taveras.
Guilty of thinking he would never be able to hit major league pitching.
Guilty of chalking him up as yet another Jon Daniels talent development failure.
Forgotten in much of this was the fact that Taveras is now only twenty-four.
He was just twenty one when he was thrust into the starting center fielder role in 2020 because, for the fourth straight season, the Rangers roster construction was a disaster. Danny Santana, Scott Heineman, and Eli White all failed to generate any traction in center, so why not see what they had in the young center fielder from the Dominican Republic?
Taveras showed signs of flashes of glimmers of hope. In thirty-three games, he batted .234, stole eight bases, and had a respectable 93 OPS+.
It was good enough to earn him the starting center fielder job with the Texas Rangers in 2021. Which, to be honest, wasn’t saying much because the starting second baseman for the past half dozen seasons was Rougned Odor, the starting left fielder was Willie Calhoun, the starting shortstop was Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Taveras fit in perfectly with that group. He was totally clueless at the plate, batting .161 with an on-base percentage of .207 and an OPS+ of 30. Remember, 100 is average. But he was just twenty-two.
Last year, he started to show signs, nearly doubling his average to .261.
Coming into this year, his job wasn’t secure. There was a new—and for the first time in a long time—experience manager and a new general manager who didn’t set failure as the bar of excellence.
This year Taveras is part of the Rangers offensive revival. He is an offensive force at the bottom of the lineup, not giving opposing pitchers any Free Parking. Taveras is hitting .310 with an on-base of .375 and an OPS+ of 125.
Yes, he still shows signs inexperience in center, but now he has parental guidance in the dugout.
In yesterday’s 12-2 beatdown of the Baltimore Orioles, it was Leody Taveras’s two-run homer in the second—lurking in that number eight hole in the lineup—that erased an early Orioles 1-0 lead, and kickstarted the Rangers offense. His ninth-inning single brough in the twelfth run of the game, closing out the Rangers scoring.
It seems Leody Taveras has done something pretty significant. He has removed the “placeholder” tag next to his name. He is earning the starting center fielder role, not just keeping the seat warm for the next guy.
Guilty, also, for doubting he could do that.