The Texas Rangers had some success in 2013, but the end result left a familiar bitter taste.
Record: 91-72 (Second place in A.L. West)
What went right?
1.Adrian Beltre:The 34-year old third baseman put up excellent numbers once again for the Rangers. It’s hard not to put Beltre near the top of the list for third basemen in the major leagues; in his three seasons with Texas he has averaged 33 homers and 100 RBI and for his career he has averaged 27/93 per season. Beltre is not a young buck anymore, but he continues to produce at an impressive rate; he led the league in hits (199) and played in 161 games. Durability and consistency are becoming Beltre’s trademarks and those are valuable on any team.
2. Yu Darvish:Darvish is rapidly making a case for himself as the best pitcher in the American League if not in all of baseball. The 26-year old right-hander’s record isn’t special (13-9), but that doesn’t begin to tell the story. With a 2.83 ERA and a league-leading 277 strikeouts (11.9 SO/9 IP), Darvish finished second in the A.L. Cy Young Award voting and it’s just a matter of time before he wins one. He also showed durability while pitching 209 innings.
3. Bullpen:The Rangers had one of the league’s best bullpen as they posted a collective 2.91 ERA and held opponents to a .232 batting average. Led by closer Joe Nathan, who recorded 43 saves, Tanner Scheppers, and Neal Cotts, the main parts of the pen each recorded an ERA under 2.00 while Robbie Ross and Jason Frasor were not weak links by any stretch of the imagination.
What went wrong?
1. Jurickson Profar:Pegged by many as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate, the 20-year old infielder was a disappointment for the Rangers. He played in 85 games and hit an unimpressive .234 with 26 RBI and 63 strikeouts in 324 plate appearances. Profar has shown he struggles with the breaking ball and not swinging at balls in the strike zone. David Golebiewski ofBaseballAnalytics.orgexplained this further:
Profar did an excellent job of taking curves and sliders thrown outside of the strike zone, chasing those pitches less than half as often (14.3 percent) as the major league average (30.8 percent). Unfortunately, his “just looking, thanks” approach extended to breaking balls thrown over the heart of the plate.
Profar will be fine and probable end up being a pretty good player, but him being an immediate impact player appears to have been an unrealistic expectation.
2. David Murphy:Murphy had been with the Rangers since 2007 and developed into a decent player who didn’t put up huge numbers, but he wasn’t a liability either. This past season, Murphy did not do his part in making a suspect outfield better. A .220 batting average and an on-base-percentage of .282 proved to be detrimental for the Rangers. With Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin, the outfield left a little to be desired. Cruz did well in his 109 games following his drug suspension (27 homers, 76 RBI), but as a whole the Rangers never got the numbers that you would like to see from your three outfielders. Murphy was granted his free agency status and has since signed with the Cleveland Indians.
3. Matt Garza:Garza was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Rangers in July. In his 11 starts with the Cubs, Garza was 6-1 and had a respectable ERA of 3.17. However, once he arrived in Texas his numbers fell off considerably: 4-5 record with a 4.38 ERA. The Rangers were unable to catch the Oakland Athletics down the stretch and missed the wild card as well; the signing of Garza which was designed to help make the playoffs failed to deliver. Garza was granted his free agency.
Overall Team Performance
The Rangers were a good team in 2013, but faltered in September. A season-high 7 game losing streak in September put them out of the race. On September 3rd, Texas had a one game lead and by September 23rd they were 8.5 games back of the Athletics. That lead was too much to overtake and the Rangers watched the playoffs.
Winter Meetings Goals
The Rangers made the biggest news of the offseason so far by acquiring Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Ian Kinsler. This signing will provide a little depth in the lineup, however, many believe that the Tigers got the better end of the deal.
Texas is reportedly very interested in Tampa Bay pitcher, David Price. First baseman Mitch Moreland could be used as bait in that trade or another trade they find fit. The Rangers will definitely be seeking other pitching aid if the right guy is willing to negotiate.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.comreportsthat the Rangers will probably have to forgo the goal of signing another big-name outfielder because of the Fielder signing. In addition free agent Nelson Cruz is reportedly seeking a 4-year, $75 million deal which be most likely be too rich for the Rangers’ blood.
Looking Ahead to 2014
The Rangers will continue to compete in the A.L. West. However, with the Athletics already good and the Angels probably improving, it won’t be easy. Texas has some good pieces to build a team around, unfortunately for them, most of their “pretty pieces” are also pretty old. Another second-place finish seems likely.