Diamonds in the Rough - The Continued Texas Rangers Experience
Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Adolis Garcia look a bit out of place on a roster full of underachieving
With their new stadium, hopes were high for the Texas Rangers to turn over a new leaf and return to their form from the 2000s. Shelling out the money was difficult for the organization to pull off, but with some convincing, Globe Life Field was greenlit and finished quickly. The stadium, however nice, has been unable to reflect the success or lack thereof on the field by one of the most underperforming teams in the MLB today. As of today, the Rangers sit 13.5 games back from the division lead and to be completely honest, I'm not very surprised.
If there were a word to describe the approach taken by Manager Chris Woodward and GM Chris Young it would have to be LACKADAISICAL. As far as returning cast members, Joey Gallo and Nick Solak were expected to shoulder the load that they pieced together last season and so far that just hasn't been the case. Gallo, though a monster power bat, has been plagued with injuries and maintains his all-or-nothing approach at the plate. Nick Solak on the other hand has regressed to being a middle of the pack second baseman with a less than league average OPS+.
As far as major FA signings, Mike Foltynewicz has been less than desirable, to say the least. His ERA now tops 5 and only has one win to his name for the season. The rest of the pitching staff has remained duds as well apart from Kyle Gibson who is sitting at a pretty good 2.13 ERA. Charlie Culberson has also remained in the red as far as OPS+ and hasn't returned to his normal form. It may be possible for him to regain some of his confidence as a bench bat but otherwise he just hasn't produced.
This team just does not have the depth to make any sort of meaningful run the rest of this season. Once again the Rangers are not worth the effort it takes to sit through one of their games. Article over...
...wait why are you still here? C'mon guys there really is nothing good about this team. I'm serious. Unless I'm forgetting someone...or two.
Its incredible to think that Isiah Kiner-Falefa started and played most of his Major League Baseball career as a catcher. Although he did perform decently well, its hard to stand out when your team consistently sits at the bottom of perhaps the worst division in baseball. Last year however, Kiner-Falefa finally got the respect he deserved for his gold glove performance in a defensive switch to shortstop that is almost unheard of. Bent on proving doubters wrong about his powers at the 6, he has ramped his production up a whole other level this season.
Not only has Kiner-Falefa played all of his innings this season as the Rangers starting shortstop, he has done so with incredible production and capability. He currently leads all shortstops in defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement), and for someone who has stayed with the Rangers very cheap (2 Million/Yr) has had fantastic overall production. Not only does he lead shortstops in defensive war, but he has also managed to lead his team in Batting Average and has risen to second on the Rangers in Slugging Percentage.
Which brings me to the other standout from this squad...
Adolis. Garcia. RAKES.
Adolis has just been a flat-out pleasure to watch this season. It is so unlikely we get the chance to see him even on this team right now. This past off-season, Adolis was DFA'd to make room for the aforementioned Mike Foltynewicz, and likely should have been snatched up by some other organization. The result of those teams passing has been one of the biggest breakout stars of the year on a team with little potential otherwise.
Adolis sits in the top 10% of the league in Weighted On-Base Average, Expected Weighted On-Base Average, and Barrel%. Simply put, when he makes contact with the ball, it refuses to stay touchable most of the time. Dude has put on an absolute hitting clinic so far this year, including leading the Rangers in Homeruns, Runs Batted In, Slugging Percentage, OPS, OPS+, etc. Not to mention he sits at second in Stolen Bases for the Rangers and has a 70% success rate when stealing so far this season.
What Does the Future Hold?
Its safe to say the Rangers likely will not be making the playoffs this season and if by some miracle the team turns over a new leaf, I'll make a public apology and shave El Bombi into my head. For now, the Texas Rangers steep in a pool of underperformance that only few have been able to escape. In any case, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Adolis Garcia are going to continue to see their value increase and once free agency makes its way into their contracts, will likely see a pretty penny.
Personally, I hope that these two continue to perform and spark motivation for guys like Joey Gallo to return to his usual self. In reality, this is extremely unlikely to happen. One thing is for sure, if you have time this season give Kiner-Falefa and Garcia a watch. Whether it be going to a game where your team plays Texas or just turning on a game, I promise you will not be disappointed.
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