Top Ten Rangers moments of 2017: No. 5. 5 comments

Top Ten Moment #5: Nomar Mazara picks up his 100th RBI.

Milestones are nice. Even numbers are nice.

Nobody likes ending a season batting .299. They want .300. It just looks better. When you read .299, that pesky “2” stands out like sore thumb. It wants to tell your brain, This guy hit in the .200s, which naturally takes your brain to, This guy hit .200-something, which leads to, This guy hit .200. It’s why things are priced at $10.99. Your brain doesn’t say it’s eleven dollars. Your brain tells you it’s about ten dollars.

Just like Joey Gallo didn’t want to end the season stuck at 39home runs, he wanted 40, Nomar Mazara didn’t want to end the season stuck at 99 RBIs. He wanted 100.

Guys who hit 100 RBIs are special. Guys who hit 100 RBIs are rare. Guys who hit 100 RBIs had a good season. Guys who hit 99 RBIs are guys who didn’t hit 100.

Nomar Mazara went into the last game of the season stuck at 99. He didn’t want to be that guy, the guy who just fell short.

At the end of careers, people talk about how often a guy drove in 100 runs in a season. They don’t talk about 99. That’s falling short.

It’s also how a guy gets paid. Drive in 100 runs and you are in elite offensive company. You can command more money.

One lousy RBI makes a huge difference.

Getting those last ten RBIs took some doing for Mazara. One hundred seemed to get into Mazara’s head. Mainly because Mazara hit a power drought, hitting just one home run in his last twenty games.

Mazara picked up RBI 90 in the second game of a double header in Atlanta on September 6. He picked up 91 on September 8, got 92 and 93 on September 11, nabbed 94 the next day. Then he hit a bit of a wall. He went five days without an RBI, then picked up 95 and 96 on September 20. Ninety-seven came off his last home run of the season on September 24. It took five more games to get numbers 98 and 99.

There were two games left in the season.

It didn’t help that his team hit the skids. While they were mathematically still in the race for the second wild card, even though the odds were stacked greatly against them, the Rangers manager publicly declared his team was going to make it when he said, “Don’t dare count out his team.” the proceeded to lose thirteen of their final twenty and  eight of their last ten.

So, when the last game of the season came, really all anyone was playing for were personal milestones. And nobody more so than Mazara. He said that getting 100 RBIs was the only goal he set for himself back in spring training.

“Not too many people can get there,” Mazara said.

He barely did himself. He struck out in his first at-bat, grounded out in his second at-bat, and popped up in his third at-bat. He was just part of the offensive ineptitude that day as his team seemed to be phoning it in on the way to wrap up the season. The Rangers didn’t have even a baserunner through the first four inning.  Adrian Beltre—who else?—broke up the perfect game with a single to lead off the fifth.

By time the bottom of the eighth inning rolled around, the Rangers were down 5-0 and had mustered only four singles.

Drew Robinson doubled with one out. Then, with two outs, Delino DeShields singled him to third. Up came Mazara. Staring at 99. Staring at a season ending shutout that would punctuate his team’s miserable season.

Mazara must have been impatient with 99. He lined the first pitch he saw to right field, scoring Robinson and DeShields.

100. 101.

A huge sigh of relief. You could tell it was weighing heavily on him. And now he had it.

While 2017 saw a huge jump in RBIs for Mazara, from 64 his rookie season, he didn’t improve that much in other aspects of his game, with only a six-point increase in OPS.

Yet, only four players in Texas Rangers history have driven in 100 or more RBIs at the age of twenty-two or younger. Juan Gonzalez did it at age twenty-one and twenty-two. Ruben Sierra when he was twenty-one.
And now Nomar Mazara.

Let’s hope this is there are plenty more of those to come.