Next up on the Uncut MLB Season Preview series, I will preview the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers enter 2021 with expectations on the floor. Most experts predict that they will be at the bottom of the league, with some putting them as low as 29th in the league.
In this article, I will take a deep dive into the Rangers roster and tell fans what they should expect from the team in this MLB Season.
This lineup could sure use some improvement, as the team collectively had a .217 batting average with a .285 OBP last year. The Texas Rangers have several average players who will get hits and land on base, but few significant bats.
One that stands out; however, is slugger Khris Davis. Davis is a known slugger who spent the last five seasons on the Oakland Athletics. His most notable season was 2018 when he launched a league-leading 48 homers, which placed him 8th in MVP voting. He may not have won MVP in 2018, but he’s the MVP of cool stats with a .247 batting average in four straight seasons.
Besides Davis, the Rangers don’t have too many big-name players. One notable player is 5th-year veteran David Dahl. Dahl struggled with a -1.00 WAR in 2020 but appeared in the All-Star game the year prior. In addition, young first baseman Nate Lowe was impressive with a .316 on-base percentage in limited at-bats last MLB Season.
Overall, the Rangers have a few reliable players at the plate, but none of these names blow me away. All their bats seem very capable of getting on base, but just don’t make a significant impact. If Isiah Kiner-Falefa can get his batting average above .300, that would make a significant impact.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is not a good rotation. Kyle Gibson appears to be the number one pitcher; however, he has a career ERA of 4.57. He did throw one complete game shutout last year, but his lack of consistency is alarming. Next, is a spotty veteran in Jordan Lyles. Lyles has been in the league for 10 seasons and has only once had an ERA under 3.00. I really don’t see anything changing this year, not to mention his projected 4.94 ERA.
Nevertheless, there are a few bright spots to look for. Youngster Dane Dunning was 2-0 over 7 stars with the Chicago White Sox last year. He also finished that season with an impressive 1.118 WHIP. Also, former Atlanta Brave Mike Foltynewicz will look to duplicate his stellar 2018 season where he had 202 strikeouts. His career numbers aren’t all that impressive with a 4.33 ERA over 7 seasons, but he was good for the Braves. Each year there is speculation on whether Foltynewicz will put it all together, and maybe a change of scenery will do the trick.
Clearly, this pitching staff won’t keep any coaches up at night. A best-case scenario includes the young arms showing serious life, while the veterans hold average seasons. If Foltynewicz finds consistency I believe he could be an All-Star, but don’t bet on it.
This bullpen has the potential to be the strength of the team this MLB Season. Truly, that isn’t saying much as they have an average lineup and mediocre pitching. But, this bullpen does have a few impressive arms.
Jose Leclerc looks to be the starter this season. Ranger fans should look at Leclerc with cautious optimism as he only had two appearances and one save last year, so his 2020 stats don’t mean much. Leclerc has always had good SO/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) numbers, which makes him extremely fun to watch with the game on the line. If he lowers his walk numbers and maintains his strikeout ability, I think he’ll be a stud this year.
Along with their closer, the Rangers have some good relievers to set up. Demarcus Evans only pitched four innings last year but impressed nonetheless. Taylor Hearn had 11.9 SO/9 in 17.1 innings pitched last year, with a solid 1.385 WHIP. Bullpens are a tricky topic to predict with a multitude of changes over the course of a season.
With that being said, I am optimistic looking at these arms. I believe Evans will struggle a bit with a full-season workload but can hold his own. The rest of the arms have great potential, and if they shut down teams at the end of games they will be the clear strength of this team.
While I see some upside with this team, 2021 will not be their year. The Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros are both good teams who have playoff hopes entering the season.
Additionally, I’ve picked the Los Angeles Angels as a sleeper team going into this year and believe they will have a great season. With that being said, I see the Texas Rangers duking it out with the Seattle Mariners for fourth in the division. I have the Rangers in fourth, and the Mariners falling to the bottom.