4. Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Key stat: 14% K rate (top 8% in MLB) / Gold Glove winner
Kiner-Falefa was the Rangers best position player in 2020. His .699 OPS was well below the league average (.740). But, that was good enough to lead the team.
The Hawaii-native landed a full-time job for the first time this season, locking down 3rd base. Falefa appeared in 58 of 60 games this season.
Isiah does not hit the ball hard. He connected on just 4 HRs and his 23.7% hard-hit rate placed him in the bottom 4% of the league. But, he did hit. If you don’t dig too deep, his stats looks good. Kiner-Falefa lead the team in most major offensive categories.
- AVG: .280 (1st on the Rangers)
- Runs: 28 (1st)
- OBP: .329 (1st)
- OPS: .699 (1st)
It will be interesting to see how the Rangers use Isiah moving forward. He was just recognized as the best defensive third baseman in American League. But, the hitting numbers have to improve, especially the power numbers, if he wants the job for the extended future.
3. Rafael Montero
Key stat: 8/8 in save opportunities
Rafael’s 4.08 ERA in not impressive. But, that spotlighted stat never tells the whole story with relief pitchers. To get a better feel for Montero’s success this season, we need to take a lot at some other numbers.
WHIP (Walks + hits / IP) tells us how many hitters reached base per inning. Montero’s posted an impressive 1.02. Beyond that, the righty stuck out 19 in 17 innings and opposing batters hit just .190 against him. Serving as the Ranger’s primary closer, Montero completed all 8 save chances he was faced with.
The Rangers signed Montero as a free agent in 2019. Since then, he has been a massive piece of the Rangers bullpen, pitching high leverage situations in late innings. You can expect him to do much of the same in 2021.