The first 40.

Surprise: Martin Perez has the fourth-best ERA in the American League.

The quarter mark of the season is over. Baseball wisdom says you don’t really know what kind of team you have until you’ve played forty games. 

The Rangers have played forty games. What they have is the opposite of the team they thought they had. They have a team that’s strong on pitching and weak on offense.

The offensive pieces they added have been, like their bats, hit and miss. Corey Seager and Kole Calhoun, while not blowing the world away, are holding their own. Marcus Semien and Mitch Garver are mainly holding their tails between their legs.

The two biggest surprises of the season are no surprise to anyone now. Martin Perez on the positive side. Marcus Semien on the negative side.

Nobody would have predicted the dominating run Martin Perez has been on. The first ten years of his career suggest he has this in him in small flashes. But nothing like what he is doing now. The Rangers didn’t even think this was going to happen. No team in baseball did. That’s why he was able to be signed for next to nothing. He was worth that. 

He was the fifth starter in the Rangers rotation, after Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Spencer Howard, and Taylor Hearn. That’s what the Rangers thought of him. And, to be fair, that’s how he started. In his first two starts, he went four innings each, giving up three runs both times, losing both. His ERA after two games was a very-Perez-like 6.75.

Then that something, whatever it was, kicked in. Since then, Perez has pitched six games, giving up just three earned runs, going at least six innings in each start. It’s about as dominating as anyone could expect a pitcher to be. His ERA in his past six games is 0.65. Yes, that starts with a zero.

As surprisingly good as Perez has been, Semien has been surprisingly disappointing. Marcus Semien hit 45 home runs last season, driving in 102 runs. His OPS+ in 2021 was 131. For the second time in three years he finished third in MVP voting.

What a difference a Rangers uniform makes.

The thirty-one-year-old second baseman has yet to hit a home run. And has driven in just nine. He is on pace to drive in 36 runs. His OPS+ is 42. It’s hard to find a worse second baseman in baseball. In fact, it’s impossible. You won’t. Marcus Semien is the worst second baseman in baseball at this point of the season.

Baseball is a game of surprises and disappointments. The Rangers have had their fair share of those so far this season.

At least things are looking up. The last few seasons it’s been all disappointment.