The 2021 season has gone pretty much as expected for the Rangers, with a few guys shining through a below .500 season while the club as a whole looks exactly like one in rebuild mode. Texas went 1-4 on the last road trip, an improvement over the 15-game losing streak from the past two trips.
With less than a month until the All-Star Game and the Rangers returning home Friday to open a 10-game homestand, it seems like a perfect time for another Inbox.
Long-term, what position would you say has the clearest outlook, and what has the murkiest outlook?
If all goes according to plan, third base seems to be a lock for years to come. The Rangers haven’t had a solid long-term third baseman since future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre retired in 2018 and top-ranked prospect Josh Jung clearly has a lot of expectation on him to be the next great. In two games at Double-A Frisco, he’s gone 4-for-9 with a home run and four RBIs.
You could also say Isiah Kiner-Falefa has shortstop locked down unless something unexpected happens during the back half of the season. His Gold Glove-caliber defense hasn’t wavered, and he’s delivered in the leadoff spot with a .289/.326/.407 slash line. Things could obviously change if the Rangers want to sign one of the big free-agent shortstops this offseason, or even draft one next month, but manager Chris Woodward and general manager Chris Young have raved about Kiner-Falefa’s leadership and capabilities all season.
Murkiest outlook? That could be a number of positions, but the other side of the infield seems unclear. The point of 2021 for the Rangers is to figure out and establish who will be part of this club in the long term. Will Nick Solak and Nate Lowe be a part of that? They hope so, but both have stumbled through May and June after hot starts this season, with Solak batting .229 and Lowe at .242.
What has made Kyle Gibson so good this season rebounding from his 2020 campaign, especially given he’s already pitched more innings than he did all of last year?
For perspective, Gibson pitched 67 1/3 innings in 2020, posting a 5.35 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. This season, he’s pitched 77 2/3 innings with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP, even after missing a start with a groin strain. Statistically, this has been one of the best seasons of Gibson’s career. He’s even said it’s the longest he’s sustained success since debuting in 2013.
Gibson said after Texas beat the Giants on June 9 that he’s not even sure what to attribute it to outside of having a good game plan every day with pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara. He’s mixed his pitches extremely well this year, especially with the offseason addition of a cutter to his arsenal, and his stuff, from his mechanics to his delivery, has just been better, simple as that.
I think the biggest thing for Gibson has been being 100 percent healthy for maybe the first time in his Major League career. He struggled with E. coli and ulcerative colitis over the past two years, and he said during Spring Training that he’s never had an offseason where he could just work on baseball.
With the ERCOT news regarding the low statewide power supply, are there any contingency plans if there are rolling blackouts this summer? With so many windows, everyone can still see, so … play ball?
For those who don’t know, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking residents to conserve energy and safely reduce electricity use as summer gets into full swing. On Monday, the grid came close to power outages, which is where the conserving-energy part comes in. ERCOT is asking customers to do so in order to prevent rolling blackouts.
The Rangers don’t foresee this being an issue this summer, regardless of what happens with ERCOT. Globe Life Field has backup generators, so the club won’t have to play in the dark. If you remember, Globe Life Field hosted the State Farm College Baseball Showdown the week after the winter storm in February, and it went off without a hitch.
How do the players feel about the coconut turf? Do they feel it plays fairly true, or do they wish it were natural grass?
I’ve talked to a couple of players about this, and they seem to enjoy the turf infield at Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park since they were in Houston this week. I’ve heard no complaints about it, especially because on turf, you know exactly how it plays. You can’t say the same for natural grass.
Are there plans to add anyone to the Rangers Hall of Fame this year? With players from the World Series years like [Adrian] Beltre, [Ian] Kinsler and [Colby] Lewis retired, there are plenty of worthy candidates.
I agree, there are plenty of worthy candidates, and it’s possible the Rangers will continue to add on to the Hall of Fame, but nothing is definitive yet.