Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year, I predicted the Bruce Bochy-led Texas Rangers would make the most of their top-tier offense, but the World Series was a stretch. That would mean the Houston Astros’ pitching melting down.

Well, talk about being half-correct. Texas slugged and pitched its way to 90 wins and a Wild Card, finishing tied with Houston in the AL West. The Astros won the season series and the division, but lost a tight seven-game ALCS to the eventual champions.

Now, the Rangers will look to run it back. The Astros are another year older and Justin Verlander can’t do it all by himself. Texas has most of its key contributors back, namely World Series MVP Corey Seager, and Jordan Montgomery could still re-sign as a free agent.

The Rangers’ former ’90s rival New York Yankees will be watching too. They host Texas for a weekend in August before visiting Arlington in early September. These should be treated as playoff previews, assuming the Yankees perform as expected.

Is the Rangers’ latest rebuild the start of a dynasty? Or are they the 2015 Royals and a mere flash in the October pan?

Greatest Addition: David Robertson. The ageless wonder isn’t done yet after signing a one-year, $11.5 million deal to join the Rangers. Robertson split last season between the Mets and Marlins and had a 3.03 ERA with 18 saves in 62 games. Not bad for someone who turns 39 in April!

Robertson has 175 career saves and could absolutely be the Rangers’ closer. Jose LeClerc was great in the role in the playoffs, but was clearly exhausted by the end. David Robertson has plenty of postseason experience and immediately provides stability to a streaky relief corps.

Greatest Loss: Mitch Garver. It’s not often we lament a team losing a popular backup catcher to free agency. Switch-hitter Jonah Heim is talented enough to make any reserve backstop an afterthought. That is, any one besides Mitch Garver, who hit .270 with 19 home runs and an .870 OPS in just 87 games. Garver also had three homers and 15 RBI in the playoffs, and eventually signed a two-year deal with the Mariners in free agency.

Herein lies one of the Rangers’ biggest challenges in 2024. Getting double-digit home runs from the backup catcher, let alone 19 of them, is unheard of. Garver now has a chance to form a steady platoon with Cal Raleigh in Seattle, while the Rangers hope Andrew Knizner takes to Globe Life Field.

Greatest Asset: Adolis Garcia. I told too many people the same thing headed into the playoffs last year: “Adolis Garcia is the best player you’ve never heard of.”

Garcia proceeded to bat .323 with eight home runs in the playoffs, including a walk-off in Game 1 of the World Series. He also took home a Gold Glove and slugged a career-high 39 home runs in 2023. This offseason, he signed a new two-year, $14 million contract.

Herein lies why Adolis Garcia is so valuable in Texas. The deal only buys out his first two-years of arbitration and he made less than $1 million in 2023. If he keeps swinging a hot bat, he’ll soon swing himself into way bigger money.

Greatest Liability: Aging pitching. I hope Rangers president Chris Young has a good luck charm of sorts. Texas’ pitching only ranked 18th in MLB with a 4.28 ERA last year before posting a 3.83 mark in the playoffs. If the team wants to get back to the World Series, they’ll need young pitching prospects to develop and debut fast.

The only projected starter under 30 this year is lefty Cody Bradford. Even Dane Dunning is 29. The rest are an effectively aging Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray, the streaky Andrew Heaney, and the collectively injured Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Bochy should be ready to push a lot of bullpen buttons to cover a lot of innings.

Meanwhile, Jack Leiter can’t get his walks under control in the minors, and Kumar Rocker is still rehabbing from elbow surgery. Neither Brock Porter nor Owen White will be ready for regular rotation starts this season. The lineup is strong enough to cover any pitching holes, but an aging staff can still only take on so much work.

Will the Rangers win the West? If they do, it will be for two reasons: The lineup will keep its pace from last year, and the pitching staff will largely avoid injuries. If Young can trade for a young arm, all the better.

Until then, the Rangers will hope that their to-scoring lineup picks up where it left off last year. They’ll power their way into the playoffs and hope the pitching can keep up with the bats. The aging arms alone make a repeat unlikely.

But with all these hitters under contract, the AL West is 100% the Rangers’ to lose. Both this season and perhaps the next few beyond.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.