With the first month of the season finally wrapped up, expectations and reality either diverge or begin to align. In the case of the Texas Rangers, they are starting to merge. They sit atop the AL West with a record of 17-11, and having took a series from both the Astros and the Yankees.
The Texas Rangers have seen contributions from all 28 players on the roster
This has come on the back of some excellent pitching led by Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. The Texas Rangers pitching staff is currently fifth in BA (.227), fifth in Whiff% (27.8%) and 4th in BB (74). In 2022, the Rangers struggled mightily with limiting contact and throwing strikes. Martin Perez was excellent but his contribution alone was not enough last season to make a difference. Then Chris Young adds one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and Eovaldi with his 4.3% BB% change will occur.
Combine that with the 2nd-highest amount of runs scored and 6th-lowest runs against and you have yourself a winning ball club.
But the best teams get help from some of the least expected sources. This years team has seen legitimate contribution from Josh Jung, Jonah Heim, and Ezequiel Duran. Josh Jung has started to prove why he is the top rated prospect in the Texas Rangers organization. Yesterday he hit a grand slam in the 1st inning to set the tone for the remainder of a 15-2 beatdown of the Yankees.
Beyond a single moment, Jung has performed well in the first month with a wRC+ of 114 and an average launch angle of 18 degrees, there is legit pop in that bat. His launch angle is 4 degrees higher which explains a dramatic increase in HardHit% at 42.6%, up 12.1% from 2022.
The most pleasant surprise as by far been Ezequiel Duran who has filled in very nicely for an injured Corey Seager. After having a less than excited season last year, he has reminded fans why the Rangers traded for him at the deadline for Joey Gallo.
Duran sits in the 91st percentile of Max EV and is hitting .310 while primarily hitting in the 6-7 spot in the order. Duran’s mix of speed and contact has made him a valuable asset. He needs to start working counts better with a BB/K of .06 but so far it has not affected his approach. His BA-xBA sits at -.074 so he is certainly due for regression, also indicated by a .400 BABIP. But he is been an excellent placeholder for Seager while he’s been out.
Is it a long season? Absolutely. But have the Texas Rangers set their standard for May and beyond? Also yes. In order to maintain success the Rangers will need contributions from guys like Duran and limiting walks.
I loved what I’ve seen so far and there are few indications that they can’t continue and insert themselves into the playoff picture.