It wasn’t a season destined for greatness for the Texas Rangers.
Once a team vying a World Series title every year, the Rangers have been stuck teetering between trying to compete and embracing a rebuild. This year was a step in the right direction despite winning just 60 games and missing the playoffs. It was a year that brought a trade deadline sale; a year that saw Adolis García become an All-Star; a year that landed Jack Leiter in the MLB Draft at No. 2 overall.
If the Rangers embrace this rebuild, they can finally establish a sense of direction for the franchise.
But how did 2021 fare for the individuals on the roster?
Note: Neither Joey Gallo nor anyone else traded at the deadline is eligible for team awards. Only players that finished the season on the roster are eligible.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of our MLB Season Recaps.
Manager: Chris Woodward
Finish: Fifth in AL West
Aside from García and Nate Lowe, the Rangers left a lot to be desired in 2021. As a team, they tied for 26th in wRC+ (84), tied for 29th in wOBA (.291) and, despite the Texas air, ranked 28th in slugging percentage (.375).
Aside from Dane Dunning (3.94 FIP) and Brett Martin (3.54 FIP), their pitching staff wasn’t any better. Rotation-wise, they were 28th in FIP (5.19), tied for 26th in xFIP (4.69), and had the third-highest home run per-fly-ball rate in the league (17.0).
Their bullpen was pretty much middle of the pack and their defense ranked second in defensive runs saved. Overall, however, it yielded just 60 wins.
MVP: Adolis García
The young outfielder was not good in the second half. However, his 126 wRC+ and 22 first-half home runs cemented him as an All-Star. He was quite mediocre in the second half (69 wRC+), but he rounded out 2021 with over 30 home runs, 3.8 rWAR (2.9 fWAR) and 16 DRS. From wire to wire, considering Joey Gallo was traded to the Yankees in July, García makes the most sense as Rangers MVP.
Cy Young: Dane Dunning
Dunning had a relatively solid campaign for Texas in 2021. His ERA wasn’t stellar, at 4.51, but he had a 3.94 FIP and a 4.12 SIERA to complement a ground-ball rate over 50 percent. He needs to improve in either striking batters out or limiting ball four because he doesn’t excel at either and it’s going to continue to cost him in the ERA department down the road.
Reliever of the Year: Brett Martin
Aside from Dunning, Martin was the only arm that consistently found success in the Rangers’ pitching staff. In 62.1 innings, the southpaw yielded a 3.54 FIP, 3.91 xFIP, and 3.88 SIERA. Martin pitched to contact more than he did in 2019, striking out 5.2 percent fewer hitters in 2021. Surprisingly, in that ballpark, he was much better off doing so. The Rangers, as previously mentioned, ranked second in team DRS in 2021, so contact pitchers could find success as long as they kept the ball on the ground. Martin followed that mantra to a T, posting a career-best 57.4 ground ball rate.
Gold Glove: Adolis García
García was a wizard in the field this season, netting 16 DRS and 12 outs above average (97th percentile). He also ranked in the 86th percentile in outfielder jump and in the 83rd percentile for sprint speed. On top of that, he was second among all qualifying outfielders in ARM runs—runs saved from a fielder’s arm—with 8.4. It’s an absolute crime that García wasn’t nominated for a Gold Glove among AL right fielders this season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Nate Lowe
Lowe was pretty solid overall for the Texas Rangers offensively. Through 642 plate appearances, the first baseman ranked second on the team in wRC+ (115, Gallo first), second in OBP (.357, Gallo first), and second in walk rate (12.5, Gallo first). As previously mentioned, Joey Gallo isn’t qualifying for the team awards, as he didn’t finish the year on the roster. As for Lowe, being second to Gallo in everything only shows how productive he was in relation to the lineup overall.
Embrace. The. Rebuild.
The Texas Rangers can’t get ahead and try to be competitive in the AL West next season. Seattle will only get better; Houston will find a way even if Carlos Correa leaves; Los Angeles is still a couple of moves away from being competitive. The Rangers are too far behind the eight-ball to risk the future for the sake of clinging to a pipe dream of competing.
However, adding some veteran experience to the pitching could do the likes of Dunning and A.J. Alexy some good. Some names to keep an eye on are Zack Greinke, Danny Duffy, Michael Pineda, and Martín Pérez—veterans who can provide innings and serve as mentors to some of the young arms on the staff.
Also, adding veterans on cheap deals to both the pitching staff and lineup makes them potentially a key seller at the 2022 deadline.
Follow Jordan Leandre on Twitter: @JordanLeandre55
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