Slumping Rangers setting personal goals for stretch run
BOSTON -- The 2022 Rangers know they’re not playing for a spot in the postseason. Their 0.00 percent playoff odds, according to FanGraphs, are not exactly a shock given their 58-75 record. But regardless, Texas still has one month of baseball left to play.
A 5-2 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday extended the Rangers’ skid to a season-high eight games, putting them 27 games back in the American League West. As it heads for Houston to open a three-game set against the Astros, Texas must find a way to push forward and close out what has been a grueling season.
“That's the challenge, is to stay motivated when you don't see a prize,” interim manager Tony Beasley said ahead of Sunday’s loss. “But at the same time, it's who we are as far as competitors. Guys have personal goals that they're reaching, and guys are still playing for something.
“A lot of guys are playing for a spot next year. So there's a lot of things still up in the air. We're still evaluating this team and who's a winning player, who's not, who can go forward with us and who can't. So the guys still have a lot to play for.”
Though personal goals may prove to be the biggest wins for the Rangers through the remainder of the 2022 season, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player fully soaking in the glory of an individual accomplishment during a losing streak.
After a personal milestone amid a team skid, a player will often defer to “but we didn’t win” when asked about his achievement. Though Beasley suggested that answer might just be the “right” thing to say, “individual goals and accolades, they never could trump the team's success.”
“When guys tell you that, that just tells you that winning is what they really care about more than anything else. And that's a good thing.”
So what are some of the personal goals Beasley is referring to? Take, for example, Marcus Semien, who last week joined Adolis García as the second Ranger this year to reach the 20-homer, 20-stolen base club. Or García himself, putting together a 23-game hit streak, which at the time was the longest in the Majors this season.
Nathaniel Lowe has taken advantage of the opportunity to prove himself as an everyday player in his second season with Texas. Lowe -- who was unanimously voted the Rangers’ Player of the Month in August and was named MLB’s Player of the Week last Monday -- ranks near the top of multiple offensive categories in the AL, including average (.305), slugging (.504), OPS (.861) and hits (148).
And then there are the players stepping onto the field looking to secure a spot in 2023. On the pitching side, left-handed rookie Brock Burke has a 1.55 ERA in 45 relief appearances for the Rangers. Fellow rookies Bubba Thompson and Ezequiel Duran are seeing a lot of big league game action since their callups.
On Saturday, Thompson set a career high with three hits. He’s 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts, and his 30.3 feet-per-second sprint speed is tied for third best in the Majors. In Thursday’s finale against the Astros, Thompson -- the Rangers’ No. 28 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- hit his first career homer.
The goal will always be to win, and even one victory can have a major impact on the attitude within a clubhouse. But as wins have been hard to come by for the Rangers, they’ve had to reframe their day-to-day outlook in order to reach the finish line of a trying season.
“We can't start from Day 1 and try to revamp everything that we do and change all the narratives right now,” Beasley said. “But we can recognize them and still not say, ‘Hey, this is OK.’ It's not OK. So we have to make sure that we keep stressing that every day.
“I want them to feel good about today. And if we can just feel good about today and do something great today and believe that something good is going to happen today, and then tomorrow, let's do it again. And then let's do it the day after tomorrow, and let's keep doing it until the end. That's kind of where we are right now. We've got to take it one day at a time.”