Underestimating the Texas Rangers is something every MLB team will do this year, including the Mets and Yankees.
The difference is if the Mets lose their weekend home series to Texas in August, it’s probably just a bad run. The Rangers are otherwise a non-factor for them. If the Yankees struggle in either four April games in Arlington or a late June weekend in the Bronx, it could be a potential playoff preview.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Texas Rangers are coming up on their flash rebirth that happens once every decade or so. Remember that long before their World Series trips in 2010 and 2011, the Rangers were the ’90s Yankees’ prime playoff foes.
And in the last two years, the Rangers have spent almost $1 billion in free agency. They took the risk the Mets wouldn’t and gave Jacob deGrom’s glass arm a five-year, $185 million deal. New general manager Chris Young doesn’t just want to topple the Astros from the AL West throne.
It’s clear he’s aiming for the AL’s top tier and surging past the Yankees.
Greatest Addition: Bruce Bochy. The Rangers are going the Mets route and hoping lightning strikes twice: hiring an old-school manager to guide a young and talented team. Remember, Texas ranked eighth and 12th, respectively, in home runs and runs scored. Their paltry 68 wins in 2022 are entirely because Chris Woodward was an awful manager.
Bochy, meanwhile, is a future Hall of Famer who guided the Giants to three titles. If Buck Showalter can revive the Mets at age 66, Bruce Bochy can save the Rangers at 67.
Greatest Loss: Jon Daniels. Yes, it was right to fire him last summer after six straight losing seasons. The Rangers needed a new direction and Young is already showing he’s got the stones for the job.
But Daniels was still the architect of the Rangers’ run of success in the 2010s when they made the playoffs five times in seven years. 15 years later, he’s now a senior advisor for the Rays. Can Young fill this man’s shoes and get Texas back on a winning trajectory? We’ll soon find out.
Greatest Strength: Young and controllable pieces, without a doubt. Independent of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager’s heavy contracts, plus every other Rangers free agent added in the last two years, Texas is swimming in talent from Josh Jung to Jack Leiter. Outfielder Adolis Garcia had a 3.5 bWAR in 2022 and has four more years before free agency.
Think of the Giants teams Bruce Bochy led to the World Series. They were all a balance of young, homegrown talent and savvy veterans, be they free agents or just journeymen. Some of these youngsters, namely Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, eventually became stars. Texas has that exact same potential, especially with Bochy at the helm.
Greatest Weakness: Ambition over execution. The Rangers definitely want to win but haven’t quite grasped the how of it. Simply trying to outslug the competition, including the division-rival Astros’ elite pitching, just won’t do. They invested over $500 million in Semien and Seager but didn’t think to spend on pitching until this offseason. Cue not only deGrom but also Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi.
The difference is now, unlike with Woodward, the Rangers have a balance of talent and coaching. Bochy’s record speaks for itself and his front office has given him the tools to win. Now, let’s see what he does with them.
Should the Yankees worry about the Rangers? In the immediate? Probably not. The Rangers have talent but won’t win the West this year without Houston’s pitching taking a serious nosedive. They’ll put up fights, probably enough to steal a couple of wins from the Yankees in April and then June. But on the whole, this season will be about re-establishing a winning culture in Arlington.
And if Jacob deGrom doesn’t miss any significant time with an injury? Well, that’s anybody’s guess.
On the Yankees’ end, it’s about execution. Their lineup is stronger than the Rangers’ by a wide margin. These are winnable games if everyone’s healthy and hitting well.
But in a few years when the young pitching develops and Jim Crane keeps becoming Jerry Jones in Houston? Don’t sleep on these Texas Rangers.
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