It’s an open secret to all in Major League Baseball that 2018 is a season the Texas Rangers want to quickly forget: they lost 95 games, fired Jeff Banister, and were in the cellar in almost every relevant statistical category in baseball.
They saw arguably their most beloved player since Nolan Ryan retire over the offseason, and while the front office was busy trying to revive a bullpen, did not make any major headlines in the winter during free agency.
Their most major news was of course the hiring of Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward. He will enter his new job with large pressure from the fanbase despite nearly the worst season for the club in 25 years.
Many fans wre miffed with the firing of Banister while Jon Daniels received a multi-year extension. However, Woodward did leave the Dodgers very popular with his players and is ready for the pressure in the Lone Star State.
“I love that… I embrace expectations,” Woodward said when introduced as the Rangers manager back in November.
“You will hear me say that with our players. I want our players to have expectations of winning a world series. You have to establish that belief now.”
With the departure of Adrian Beltre, the club now turns fully to its youth to try and lead the team into the future.
Second baseman Rougned Odor dazzled fans with his much improved batting performance compared to a subpar 2017 season. He also had a much better season on defense as he is now ready to enter his prime years at the age of 25.
Outfielder Joey Gallo could very well be in a do-or-die year with the team when it comes to his hitting as he enters the final year of his contract. His power hitting has dazzled highlight reels but his astronomical strikeout rate and his inability to put a ball in play that isn’t over a fence could place him on the trading block come July.
Fellow outfielder Delino Deshields will look to bounce back in 2019 as injuries crippled him for much of last season. His speed has made him an effective weapon in center field, but also on the basepaths.
The Rangers offense will need to make serious improvements to keep up with the division leaders Houston Astros and the competitive Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics. They were second worst in the AL last year in batting average with the team hitting .240.
The pitching also has a long climb up as well. The Rangers had the third highest ERA in the American League in 2018 at 4.92.
Of course, this potential rebuilding season for the Rangers, will occur in the (literal) shadow of what’s happening next door. The club will be playing their last year in Globe Life Park as its replacement Globe Life Field starts to take shape.
Globe Life Park is known as one of the best ballparks in baseball and was built in the 1990s for just over $190 million, a figure that is incredibly cheap by today’s standards.
However, one thing the park could not provide was protection from was the brutal Texas sun. Day games in the summer could easily reach triple digits and was an absolute nightmare for fans, especially for small children.
In fact, one of the park’s most memorable moments was Beltre’s 3,000 hit against the Baltimore Orioles in July of 2017. It was during a day game with a first pitch temperature of near 100 degrees. Despite the historic moment, the ballpark was notably empty.
Globe Life Field will provide a retractable roof and protection from the dreaded heat that should draw fans to games regardless of weather.
The Rangers enter the 2018 campaign with a new leader, many fresh faces on the roster, but their little inexpierience in a brutal division could prove a lot to handle.