So far, the Rangers kiddie core is holding its own. That’s a good sign.
Josh Jung andBubba Thompson are getting a real taste of major league pitching, and don’t seem to be overwhelmed.
Third baseman Jung has played in ten games now, accumulating forty plate appearances. He’s hit three home runs, driven in six, and is hitting a respectable .250. Baseball-Reference.com does this thing where they extrapolate a player’s performance out over a 162-game season. Jung would have 49 home runs, 97 RBIs, an OPS of .800, and an OPS+ of 120. The twenty-four-year-old hasn’t even settled in yet.
Bubba Thompson has played in forty games. His forte is speed, having stolen sixteen bases already. That would be 65 steals over a full season. For reference, Starling Marte lead baseball in steals last year. With 47. You’d have to go back to 2017 to find a player getting 60 steals. Thompson is hitting .274, with an on-base percentage of .323. If he can nudge those numbers up just a bit, with his speed, he will be an offensive terror. Every single has the potential for him to wind up at second.
There are always cautions on any player’s first time up. He is trying to figure out the league. The league is trying to figure him out. It’s a give and take. Nick Solak is a perfect example of that. He burst into the big leagues in 2019 with a really nice showing in thirty-three games. He put up an OPS+ of 123. It looked like the Rangers had a second baseman that would let them finally get rid of Rougned Odor. But Solak turned around and receded in 2020, even more in 2021, and yet again in 2022. He spent more time in the minor leagues this year than in the big leagues. When he finally got called back up at the beginning of September, he got only a handful of at-bats, then sadly broke his foot after being hit by a pitch, putting a dismal year to an unceremonious end. With it, probably his time as a Ranger.
It’s a game of constant adjustments. Jung and Thompson are going to be challenged, just like Solak was. What’s important is how they respond to those challenges.
So far, so good.