Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
When the Texas Rangers placed star third baseman Adrian Beltre on the 15-day disabled list with a left quad injury, some feared Texas would struggle to get offensive production out of the left side of their infield. Thankfully for Texas, they received a gift from the baseball gods, and he goes by the name of Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Kevin Kouzmanoff? That’s right, Kevin Kouzmanoff, the guy that last played in the Major Leagues in 2011 with the Colorado Rockies. He’s come on this season as an injury replacement role for Beltre and has done so valiantly.
His stats through 12 games are as follows: .370 AVG, .630 SLG, 10 RBI, 2 HR, 6 2B, and a 1.039 OPS.
Not too shabby for a 32 year old journeyman. The Rangers have gone 8-2 since Beltre was put on the DL, and a large part of that has to be because of Kouzmanoff. He’s been a catalyst for the Rangers offense and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Rangers manager Ron Washington shared some words of praise on Kevin:
"“He’s been a Godsend to take over for Beltre and perform like that,” Washington said. “He is a pro.” (h/t Jeff Wilson, Star-Telegram)"
After his impressive week, where he had 8 RBIs, 10 hits, 2 home runs, and a .690 slugging percentage, Kouzmanoff was named American League Player of the Week. Kouzmanoff had a few thoughts on the honor:
"“It feels good to come back and have and impact,” said Kouzmanoff, who batted .345 and had a 10-game hitting streak that was snapped Sunday. “It’s not only me, but it’s my teammates around me.” (h/t Jeff Wilson, Star-Telegram)"
A career .258 hitter, it’s unlikely that Kouzmanoff keeps up this torrid pace for much longer. But for now, the Texas Rangers can enjoy the fact that they won’t be losing so much production from the lineup. It’s a long season, and while Beltre will be returning soon, the Rangers will be able to rely on Kouzmanoff as a quality bench infielder and a substitute for when the injury bug reappears as the season progresses.
Kouzmanoff’s story is not only one of success, but of perseverance. He hadn’t played in the majors since 2011, but three years later, he seems to have found a role playing for the Texas Rangers. Kouzmanoff may not be in the direct spotlight for too much longer, with Adrian Beltre on his way back from injury, but he’s done enough to earn a role on this squad, and help them fight for an AL West title.