Looking back on Rangers' tumultuous 2022 season

October 12th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry's Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Rangers capped off their sixth straight losing season last week, finishing 68-94, good for fourth place in the American League West as the top two finishers in the division -- the Astros and Mariners -- face each other in the AL Division Series.  

General manager Chris Young said the eight-win improvement from 2021 to ‘22 was about half of what the internal expectations were coming into this season. Young has consistently emphasized that the front office didn’t expect the Rangers to go from worst to first in the AL West in one offseason, but it’s clear they underachieved.

Defining moment

The firings of manager Chris Woodward and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels

This may seem obvious, but the week of firings in mid-August signaled to everybody inside and outside the organization that the Rangers are tired of losing. Owner and managing partner Ray Davis said as much in a press conference on Aug. 12 and Young echoed the sentiment at his end-of-season presser.

What we learned

The Rangers have a solid offensive core to work with and build around

Corey Seager and Marcus Semien were brought in for this exact reason, and when you add in that both Nathaniel Lowe (more on him later) and Adolis García continued to take steps forward, the Rangers could potentially solidify the top half of the lineup for the foreseeable future.

Final slash lines for the first four spots in the Rangers’ lineup

  • • Semien: .248/.304/.429/.733 (26 homers)
  • • Seager: .245/.317/.455/.772 (33 homers)
  • • Lowe: .302/.358/.492/.850 (27 homers)
  • • García: .250/.300/.456/.756 (27 homers)

Texas is no doubt in need of another solid, middle-of-the-order bat heading into 2023, but the team has a solid foundation to work with down the line.

Best development

Lowe being a legitimate offensive threat

Lowe entered 2022 needing to prove he could be a long-term piece of the Rangers' future infield alongside Seager, Semien and top prospect Josh Jung. He did that and more.

Lowe led all qualified Rangers hitters in batting average (.302) and OPS (.850) and became the first qualified Texas batter to bat over .300 since Elvis Andrus (.302) and Adrián Beltré (.300) both did it in 2016. Lowe’s development gives the Rangers one fewer question mark as they head into 2023 and the journey back into contention continues.

Area for improvement

Pitching, pitching, pitching

It's not a shock, considering the Rangers parted ways with pitching coach Doug Mathis late last week. There’s no doubt the few bright spots were not enough to keep the pitching staff afloat.

The Rangers finished 22nd in MLB with a 4.22 team ERA this season, only a slight improvement from 23rd (4.79 ERA) in 2021. Outside of Martín Pérez (2.89 ERA) and Jon Gray (3.96), no other Rangers starter had an ERA under 4.00. Texas relievers ranked 12th in MLB in ERA (3.72) and 22nd in BB/9 (3.70).

On the rise

The Rangers’ Opening Day outfield consisted of García, Kole Calhoun and Brad Miller. Come August, it wasn’t shocking to see an outfield configuration of Leody Taveras, Bubba Thompson and Josh Smith -- two rookies and a second-year player in Taveras.

Thompson thrived after his callup, finishing the season with a .265 average and 18 stolen bases in 55 games. Taveras slashed .261/.309/.366 but was working through a slump as the season came to an end, while Smith proved to be an solid utilityman off the bench.

There’s no telling if Taveras and Thompson are truly the cornerstone outfielders to play alongside García, but they’ve put themselves on the frontlines of the competition heading into 2023.

Team MVP

It could have been Lowe if not for his defense, which has improved but is still well below average. Semien also played like an MVP candidate from June on and led the team in bWAR (5.7). But the real Rangers MVP was no doubt Pérez. 

Pérez had a career year in his second stint with the Rangers. He posted a career-best 2.89 ERA over 196 1/3 innings, finishing 2 1/3 innings shy of his career high in 2016 (198 2/3) and one win shy of his career best in ‘17 (13). He also logged a personal best in strikeouts (169). He carried the pitching staff by consistently going deep into games and delivered 23 quality starts.