Texas Rangers: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: Elvis Andrus /
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What Went Right

Shortstop Elvis Andrus had the best year of his career and he did it in a surprising way, by being an above-average hitter. Andrus was a good-fielding, light-hitting shortstop who stole 20-40 bases per year for the first seven years of his career. He showed a big improvement with the bat in 2016, when he had the highest on-base percentage of his career (.362) and slugged over .400 for the first time.

This year, Andrus ramped up the power to a level he’d never reached before. His previous career high in home runs in a season was eight. This year, he hit 20, while slugging .471. His newfound power and still solid defense made him the most valuable position player on the team in 2017.

National treasure Adrian Beltre had a good year, when he was able to get on the field. Nagging leg injuries kept him off the field all too often. He only played 94 games, but hit .312/.383/.532. One of the highlights of the season was when Beltre ripped a double into left field for the 3000th hit of his career. You know it was a special occasion because Beltre let his teammates touch his head during the ensuing celebration.

Beltre is expected to be back with the Rangers for the final year of his contract, but if the team decides to go into rebuilding mode, they will likely trade him to a contender. Either way, he’ll continue to pile up hits and should pass former teammate Ichiro Suzuki and quite a few others at some point next year. If Beltre is healthy enough to bang out 137 hits, he’ll move into 15th place on the all-time career hits list.

It feels like we’ve been hearing about Joey Gallo for years, but it should be noted that he was only 23 this season. He struggled in brief attempts in the big leagues in 2015 and 2016, hitting .173/.281/.368 in 153 plate appearances and striking out nearly fifty percent of the time. This year, he still struck out often (36.8 percent strikeout rate), but also launched 41 long balls and slugged over .500. His defense was poor at the corner infield spots, but he was still a three-win player.

More from Call to the Pen

At the catcher position, the Rangers got good work from a surprising source. The team acquired Jonathan Lucroy in August of 2016, with the idea that he would be a good-hitting catcher last year and this year. Instead, Lucroy didn’t hit well at all with the Rangers and was traded away this season. Robinson Chirinos, meanwhile, took over catching duties and hit .255/.360/.506. He was a 2-WAR player in just 88 games.

The starting rotation had their struggles, with Cole Hamels starting just 24 games and Yu Darvish being traded, but free agent signee Andrew Cashner came through with 28 starts and a 3.40 ERA. He did it with smoke-and-mirrors, though, as his strikeout rate was just 4.6 strikeouts per nine innings, by far the lowest of his career. His 4.61 FIP suggests he was very fortunate to have an ERA as low as he did. The Rangers may present Cashner with a qualifying offer. If he accepts, he would cost $18.1 million next season. If he declines, the team would get a draft pick as compensation.

In the bullpen, the Rangers had seven different relievers pick up at least one save, which tells you they didn’t have one go-to guy to rely on all year to close out games. As a team, they had a 4.76 ERA in relief, which was 28th in baseball. One guy who did come through was Alex Claudio, who led the team with 11 saves and had a 2.50 ERA in 82.7 innings.