Can Texas Rangers Turn Hot Start Into Postseason Appearance?

Can Texas Rangers Turn Hot Start Into Postseason Appearance?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

For a franchise that lost 196 games the previous two years, the Texas Rangers look like they have figured out how to turn things around.

Sixty games into the 2023 season, the Rangers sit atop the American League West at 40-20, leading the defending World Series champion Houston Astros by 4.5 games with the best run-differential in all of Major League Baseball. And it’s not close. The Rangers sit at 155 and the Tampa Bay Rays are second at 132. The Atlanta Braves are next with a 63-run margin, followed by the Astros at 61.

Unfortunately for those wanting to wager on Major League Baseball, there are no legal Texas sportsbooks. Bills in support of betting died during the most recent session of the Texas Legislature, which won’t meet again to take up the topic until 2025.

The Rangers started the season tied for the 20th-best World Series odds at +5000.

Since then, Texas has relied on a balanced performance from its offense and pitching staff to rise to the sixth-best odds at +1400 according to BetMGM SportsBook (you can expect BetMGM Sportsbook Texas promo codes when wagering does become legal in the state).

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Starting Rotation Takes a Hit

The Rangers got bad news Tuesday when they learned key offseason acquisition Jacob deGrom would need to have Tommy John surgery on his right arm. He signed a five-year, $185 million deal in December, and the best arm in baseball was supposed to anchor Texas’ quest to return to one of baseball’s top teams.

While the news was devastating, he was only 2-0 in six starts as he’s dealt with injuries all season. The rest of the rotation has sparkled, as Nathan Eovaldi, Martín Pérez, Jon Gray and Andrew Heaney have combined to go 24-7 so far this season. Spot starter Dane Dunning is 3-1 in games he has started and 5-1 with a 2.52 ERA overall.

Eovaldi has proven to be the most critical offseason addition when he signed a two-year deal for $34 million three weeks after deGrom in December. Eovaldi is 8-2 with 2.24 ERA, while Gray has stepped up his game during his second year in Texas at 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA.

Although there are no Texas sports betting apps, national operators list Eovaldi at +1000 for American League Cy Young Award odds, sixth on the list.

Where the Texas pitching staff’s overall ranking shines brightly is its wOBA ranking of No. 2 in baseball. Weighted on-base average is designed to measure a player’s offensive contributions per plate appearance. The Rangers are limiting the opposition to .293 and only the Minnesota Twins are better at .287.

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Offense Stands Tall With Balanced Attack

Once upon a time, the Rangers’ best teams relied on crushing home runs, but right now they are only ninth in the majors with 78. Meanwhile, their wOBA ranking also sits at No. 2 at .348 as only the Tampa Bay Rays have been better at .353.

Outfielder Adolis Garcia’s growth in his third full season is evident in his team-leading 14 homers and 51 RBIs as well as his .260 average lifting his career mark to .246. New third baseman Josh Jung is a Rookie of the Year candidate with 12 homers, 38 RBIs and a .293 average. There is no FanDuel Sportsbook Texas, but nationally the operator lists Jung second in AL Rookie of the Year odds at +400.

Shortstop Marcus Semien has stepped up his play in his second year in Texas, batting .306 with nine homers and 48 RBIs. He came to the Rangers after a 45-homer season in Toronto and fell off to 26 with a .248 average in 2022. 

Catcher Jonah Heim is having his best season, batting a career best .293 so far and his 46 RBIs are just two away from his total last year in 127 games.

All of this has happened under the watchful eye of the Rangers’ first season with Bruce Bochy as manager. The three-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants now has 2,042 victories in 26 years as a manager, which ranks No. 10 all-time after he passed Walter Alston at 2,040.

Bochy’s arrival might be the most important. He has instilled confidence not seen in Arlington since 2016 when the Rangers advanced to the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons by winning the AL West at 95-67. They followed that with seasons of 78, 67, 78, 60 and 68 wins in the non-pandemic seasons.

“I’m not surprised how well they’ve been doing,” Bochy told the Mercury News on the Rangers’ trip to Oakland in May. “I saw them in spring training. I saw them before spring training. This is a talented club, and we added some starting pitching, these guys feel like they have a chance to win every day. That’s how they should feel and that’s how they’re playing.”

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Author

Douglas Pils has been a sports journalist for 30 years in Texas, Arkansas and New York having worked for the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News and Newsday. He most recently ran the Student Media Department at Texas A&M for eight years.

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