What went right for the World Series Champion Texas Rangers?
In the words of Frodo Baggins “It’s over.” The 2023 MLB season has seen the final curtain fall as the Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games to win their first-ever World Series title. The Rangers organization has existed since 1961 when they were the Washington Senators and were one of six current MLB teams that have never won a title. As they now hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy, we ask the question: what went right for the Rangers?
The Rangers had an unblemished 11-0 record on the road this postseason, setting a new MLB record after surpassing the New York Yankees 8-0 record in 1996. The key to their success was to score runs and lots of them on the road. In total, they scored 71 runs with the next closest team being the Diamondbacks at 52 runs scored. They belted 18 home runs and batted .264/.345/.470 in those 11 games. Sure they struck out over 100 times on the road, but they drew 45 walks in total, more than any of the four teams to reach the LCS.
Then there was the pitching on the road. At a 2.55 ERA, the Rangers had the best staff away from home. The Diamondbacks arguably kept pace in the postseason in their own right, but the Rangers were just dominant enough in most categories that it pushed them over the edge and gave them the advantage by the time the final strike was called in Arizona on Wednesday night.
Nathan Eovaldi Was The Man
In the postseason you need your pitching staff to step things up and Nathan Eovaldi did just that for the starting rotation of the Rangers. He made six starts in the postseason, pitching to the tune of a 2.95 ERA across 36.2 innings of work. He tallied up 41 strikeouts to lead the postseason and issued just 10 walks, five of which came in Game Five of the World Series. He limited opposing batters to a .225 AVG and lasted at least six innings in all but one start. His mettle was proven in the clinching game of the World Series when he navigated six scoreless innings giving up just four hits with five strikeouts to help navigate the traffic he allowed. He matched Zac Gallen’s no-hit bid pitch for pitch and held on long enough to give the Rangers offense a chance to kick in.
The Middle Infield Came Through
Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are the star-free agents on the team with the sole purpose of driving the offense and being key contributors when the moment arises.
Seager, the World Series MVP, was phenomenal throughout the postseason. Across 17 games he slashed .318/.451/.682 with six home runs and just 12 RBI. He drew an impressive 15 walks to just 12 strikeouts and was constantly in the thick of each Rangers victory. He turned things up a notch in the World Series posting an OPS of 1.137 and slugging three home runs while driving in six runs in total. The question kept coming up “Why did the Diamondbacks pitch to Seager?” Well, no one may ever know but the Rangers are glad that they did.
Semien on the other hand had not been much of a factor offensively in the postseason this year. Up until the start of the World Series, Semien was batting just .192/.276/.231 going 10-for-52 with six strikeouts and six walks. His number indicates just a slow start and unlucky results from putting the ball in play, but that changed when the World Series started. As pointed out in an earlier article the Rangers needed Semien to kick into high gear for the biggest series of the season. He did just that by slashing .292/.292/.625 with two home runs, a triple, and eight RBI in 24 at-bats. Sure he didn’t draw any walks but when you strikeout out just six times after putting up that production, it’s not a bad trade-off.
The Gray Wolf Produced
One of the unsung heroes for the Rangers in the World Series was none other than Jon Gray. For the most part the bullpen was solid for the Rangers as Bruce Bochy managed it perfectly, but it was Gray that shined the brightest. Joining the team for the ALCS after injuries had kept him out for the end of the regular season, Gray was moved to the bullpen as a result of not being stretched out.
In Game One of the World Series, he tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball in relief with four strikeouts but his big moment game in Game Three. Max Scherzer started the game while Gray was scheduled to be the opener for Game Four the next day. Instead, Scherzer exited the game early with a back spasm and Gray was called upon to fill in the gap. He proceeded to throw three scoreless innings having allowed just one hit while striking out three. The former first-round pick was finally in a situation the Colorado Rockies had hoped he’d be in with them one day, but instead, the Rangers got to reap the benefits.
Evan Carter Contributed
In August he was playing in Double-A, by November 1 he was a World Series champion. Evan Carter was every bit of help you’d hope a top prospect rookie would be able to provide down the stretch. The 21-year-old batted .300 over the course of the postseason and posted .776 OPS in the World Series itself. He went 6-for-21 with three doubles and had two games in which he had multiple hits. If he is already providing this kind of offense in the World Series at that age, it should leave the Rangers quite happy moving forward.
Can You Take Me Higher?
Somehow, the Rangers ultimately found a way to band together and play the same brand of baseball that had kept them relevant all season long. The offense produced in a big way in all rounds of the playoffs and even though they lost Adolis García for the final two games, they managed to fill in the gap with ease and unleash on Diamondbacks pitching. Bochy earned his four World Series victories as a manager and further cemented his greatness as a manager by winning the title in his first season with the Rangers. Every move that Chris Young made as general manager paid off in one way or another. Plus, it never hurts to have a rallying cry like the dulcet tones of the band Creed fueling your clubhouse. The Rangers finally got their championship and it feels like they are in a good spot to continue competing for years to come.
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