MINNEAPOLIS -- There are two main factors that could determine if the Rangers are contenders next year or going through a true rebuilding phase.
One is pitching. It always is with the Rangers, and they obviously have a lot of work ahead of them in that area.
The other is if Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara can continue to make significant strides toward being major run producers. They are not there consistently yet, but they are the types of talents that a retooling team can build an offense around.
"I think that would really help," Gallo said. "It would be really nice, but I don't think of it like that. We have nine guys on the field who are all contributing. If we all continue to progress, we are going to be in good shape. We have a lot of good, young talent here."
Gallo and Mazara clearly head the list.
"Especially that guy," Mazara said, pointing to Gallo. "He can be a really good hitter and not just a guy who can hit home runs. I've seen it before from him and I believe he can do it here. He has the tools and he has the talent."
Gallo had another home run in Thursday's 4-1 victory over the Twins. He is now hitting .205 with 29 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .550 slugging percentage that is among the top 10 in the American League.
Mazara isn't doing bad either, with an RBI single on Thursday. He snapped out of an 0-for-25 skid with 10 hits in his last 29 at-bats and is hitting .246 with 13 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .423 slugging percentage.
"With Gallo, you would love the power trend to continue," manager Jeff Banister said. "I like where the [bat] and the contact are at in the center of the field, and when he is pulling the ball, he is pulling with authority and the right pitch. He is staying out of the chase zone.
"Mazara is similar ... continue to control the strike zone and keep the ball in the middle of the field. If you look at the balance of his swings, some of that power is going to show up."
Banister said he would like to get Gallo higher in the order as the season progresses and see how he handles it. After Thursday, Gallo and Mazara have 54 games -- one-third of a season -- to finish strong and build momentum for what could be a big year for both in 2018.
"I believe in myself and I trust what I can do," Mazara said. "I just need to keep working hard. It's always important to finish strong."
It's something to watch over the final two months of the season.
"I'm still learning and taking what I can to get better every day," Gallo said. "I felt I've made huge strides and I want to continue that."