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The Texas Rangers are suddenly baseball’s biggest story.
For most of the start of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, the Tampa Bay Rays dominated discussion. The Rays have hit, collectively, as well as Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts has throughout this career.
They’ve used elite pitching from a group of mostly unknowns to get to baseball’s best record.
And yet, using run differential, they’re no longer the league’s best team.
That description somehow now belongs to the surprising Texas Rangers.
The Rangers blew out the Baltimore Orioles 12-2 at Camden Yards on Friday. That pushed their run differential to +122 on the season, now the top mark in baseball.
Even in one of baseball’s best divisions, lame duck Oakland A’s excluded, the Rangers have opened up a three game lead over the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
The Rangers are now 32-18, the second best record in MLB. They’ve scored the most runs in baseball, outpacing the Rays. Incredibly, they’ve now scored 104 runs more than the division rival Astros.
But what’s even more impressive is that they’ve been this good despite a rash of injuries to key players.
Texas Rangers Benefitting From Unlikely Contributions
The team’s brought up a number of young players to go along with stars like Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
But even though Seager’s played just 19 games, the under the radar youth movement has paid off.
- 25-year-old Josh Jung has a 130 wRC+, meaning he’s been 30% better than league average
- 24-year-old Ezequial Duran has a 135 wRC+
- 24-year-old Leody Taveras has been 28% better than league average
- 27-year-old Nathaniel Lowe has 30% better than league average
The obvious question is how sustainable these performances will be down the road. And there is some indication that luck on batted balls is playing a significant part.
But the Rangers are getting contributions from everyone; they haven’t relied on just one player to carry the team.
Jacob deGrom has made just six starts, so Dane Dunning and Nathan Eovaldi pick up the slack.
Corey Seager’s missed most of the season, only for Josh Jung and Marcus Semien to break out.
The fact that so many players are contributing means they can weather some regression from one or two down the road.
And Seager finally returned to the field not long ago, only to launch a game changing grand slam against Baltimore. As good as things are in Arlington, they may be getting even better.