Ray Davis, worth $2.6 billion
World Series Titles:
C Ivan Rodriguez
68-94, 4th in AL West
Bruce Bochy, 68; Record: 2003-2029, 3 World Series Titles
Globe Life Field, Capacity: 40.300
SP Jacob deGrom. The best pitcher in baseball now wears red, white, ang blue. After one of the most dominant stretches in baseball history, deGrom has taken his talents to Texas, where he’ll be tasked with headline an expensive rotation and, eventually, mentor their young pitching prospects. Offering an elite fastball and an equally disgusting slider, he only needs two pitches to succeed; but he's shown a quality changeup and curveball in the past, too. The only question mark is his durability. He missed the end of 2021, the first half of 2022, throwing 156.1 innings in the last two years.
RP Matt Moore. The former phenom returned to Texas last year, and was much better in his second go-around. Out of the ‘pen, he pitched to a 1.95 ERA and 2.98 FIP, with the highest K/9 since his rookie season in which he threw 9.1 innings. The Rangers’ bullpen doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, and losing out on a potential strong season from the left side will make life that much difficult for guys like Taylor Hearn and Brock Burke. Expect Danny Duffy to make the team out of camp for extra left-handed flexibility and starting pitching depth.
RP Brett Martin. Another hit to the ‘pen comes in the form of Brett Martin’s shoulder injury. He was placed on the 60-Day IL, which, conflated with his diagnosis, scares the hell out of me. Martin has been able to provide about 50 decent innings per season with the Rangers, boasting a high ground ball rate. It’s just additional depth Texas will be without during the dog days of summer.
3B Josh Jung. Arguably the X-Factor of this Rangers lineup is Josh Jung, the now 25-years-old corner infield prospect. His big bat struggled last season, but injuries took his season out of focus. Now healthy, he’s expected to take the third base job for Opening Day and run with it. Projections vary on his offensive production, ranging from a wRC+ of 94 to 114. The latter gives Texas another strong bat in the infield, and makes their lineup much deeper. Given their lack of depth, Jung’s development can be pivotal to their offensive success.
Well, we certainly can’t say the Rangers are tanking. Last year’s free agent frenzy was fruitless, culminating in a 68-win season. Thankfully, they doubled down. Signing deGrom, retaining Martin Pérez, and bringing in Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney gives Texas one of the most talented, and expensive, rotations in the game. If they felt starting pitching was their downfall last season, they’ve ensured that won’t be the case in 2023.
However, these arms don’t come without their concerns. Andrew Heaney has thrown more than 100 innings a mere three times in nine tries. Can he keep up the jump in performance (13.62 K/9, 3.10 ERA) without the help of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ staff? Perez is a command slump away from an ugly ERA. We’ve long known of deGrom’s health concerns, but Jon Gray’s drop in velocity may be indicative of the same if it doesn’t rebound by Opening Day.
It’s a fairly brittle group of starters, and they’ll be pushed to the limit. This bullpen is likely incapable of the length its elderly rotation may demand. If one unit is going to crash and burn, it’s this one.
Moreover, I’m optimistic about the top of this lineup. Marcus Semien looked good after his slow start, and Corey Seager is still a certified dude. Nathaniel Lowe’s hot streaks can power a small country, and Adolis García is one of the more explosive talents in the sport. They have a bunch of pieces elsewhere, and while I’m not convinced it’s an elite offense, Jonah Heim, Robbie Grossman, and Brad Miller should be good enough to keep them viable.
80-82, 4th in AL West
BetBasics Best Bet:
Looking at their win totals bet, FanDuel has them pegged for 81.5 wins, with -105 odds on the over and -115 on the under. I’d recommend being a bit pessimistic about this Rangers team. There are health concerns, production concerns, and three other teams with as much, if not more, talent than them. The AL West may cannibalize itself and suppress everyone’s win total. Simply put, their floor is a lot farther below 81.5 than their ceiling is above it.
Lastly, deGrom is still deGrom, so it is to say that he’s still the best. If you’re willing to bet on him staying healthy, +500 odds may be the longest his Cy Young line gets.