The body is still warm, but it’s never too early to start the autopsy.
Of course, no single player can torpedo a club’s season, so this isn’t about putting all the blame on one (or five guys). And the issues that have plagued the Rangers this season are more complicated than just singling out players having bad years. Entire areas of their makeup need addressing, such as the rotation, which has huge questions going forward, and their offense, which might need a long look in the mirror over their style of scoring runs.
But those stories are for the off-season. As the Rangers get set to begin a three-game series in Seattle on Tuesday, we identify the five players who most impacted the Rangers’ disappointing season.
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1. Sam Dyson — No one saw this coming. Closer Sam Dyson struggled on Opening Day and never recovered. By June 1, he was designated for assignment before being traded to the Giants. He was demoted after blowing his first three save chances and taking a loss in the season opener. Dyson was 1-6 and allowed 20 earned runs on 31 hits, including six homers, in just 16 2/3 innings for the Rangers. To Dyson’s credit, he rebounded with the Giants and has 13 saves with a 3.21 ERA. He’s allowed one homer in 33 2/3 innings. Good for him. Bad for the Rangers. Dyson’s struggles put Texas in a hole it spent the rest of the season digging out of.
2. Rougned Odor — The young second baseman has been the poster-child for the Rangers’ offensive issues this season and for good reason. Despite 29 homers, he’s hitting .208, fourth-lowest in the majors and the worst among second basemen. Same goes for his .251 on-base percentage, which is even more concerning than the batting average. Oh, by the way, he leads all second baseman with 17 errors. At 23, perhaps 2017 will be a turning point for Odor’s maturity and approach at the plate. Manager Jeff Banister is counting on that and expects Odor to be a devoted student of the game. If not, the Rangers have a long-term mess on their hands at second base.
Rangers veteran Adrian Beltre, who had two RBIs in Sunday's win, joked that he can hit a ball as far Joey Gallo's 490-foot homer, but chooses not to upstage his young teammate. Stefan Stevensonsstevenson@star-telegram.com
3. Martin Perez — The left-hander was supposed to take a step forward this season. Instead, it was a step back. Although he’s only 26, Perez is in his sixth season. Perhaps expectations were too high from the start. There are some positive signs. He won seven consecutive starts before taking a loss in his last outing. He allowed five or more runs in six starts, including eight on July 30. His 4.82 ERA and 21 homers allowed are career-highs.
4. Jonathan Lucroy — The former All-Star catcher got off to a slow start at the plate but even more alarming, he had an oddly rough season behind the plate. Lucroy’s receiving and framing struggles were understandably the subject of much hand-wringing from the analytics crowd. He was hitting .242 with four homers and 27 RBIs before being traded to the Colorado Rockies at the deadline. The only reason Lucroy’s bad first half didn’t loom any larger in the Rangers’ decline is because his backup and eventual replacement Robinson Chirinos helped fill the gap with 17 homers, 38 RBIs and a 77-point higher OBP in only four more games for Texas than Lucroy.
5. Mike Napoli — Odor isn’t the worst-hitting player on the team. That’s because Napoli is hitting .193, the lowest in the majors among qualifiers. Napoli, however, is lower on the list because he came close to giving the Rangers about what they expected. He has 29 homers and 66 RBIs (which is a tad less than desired), but he has 23 more walks than Odor and a little better OBP. His clubhouse presence is a major plus, but more production is always more important. Napoli is unlikely to be on the roster in 2018.
Rangers slugger Joey Gallo, who hit a 490-foot homer in Sunday's 4-2 win, said he's not concerned with distance, as long as it goes out. Stefan Stevensonsstevenson@star-telegram.com
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