Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that the 2017 season wasn't a success and that 2018 won't be a rebuild (video by Jeff Wilson). Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com
Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that the 2017 season wasn't a success and that 2018 won't be a rebuild (video by Jeff Wilson). Jeff Wilson jwilson@star-telegram.com

Texas Rangers

Grading the Rangers: C isn’t for champion this season

October 06, 2017 03:21 PM

UPDATED October 07, 2017 12:28 PM

ARLINGTON

The season is over. The answers are all in.

No. 2 pencils down, everyone.

Grades for the 2017 Texas Rangers are due, and they didn’t pass the test.

The Rangers failed in their attempt at an American League West three-peat and also fell short of a wild-card spot.

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The Rangers were one of 10 teams to finish below .500 in the top-heavy AL. They were a middle-of-the-road team in the worst of the two leagues, so give them a C.

No offense to Phil Gosselin, Mike Hauschild, Pete Kozma, Preston Claiborne, Jhan Marinez and that ilk of minor contributors, but grading them would take up precious column space.

No grades were given the front office or coaching staff. As the architects and stewards of a team that relative to the rest of the league is a C, they get a C, too.

As it is, 33 grades (out of 59 players) are handed out below, A through F. No minuses or pluses. Alphabetical order with each grade. Only three players receive the highest mark, but only five receive the lowest.

As could probably be expected, the most frequently awarded grade is a C. Makes sense for a C of a team, right?

Let’s take a look:

A’s

Elvis Andrus: A career year for the shortstop has him in a position once thought unthinkable — opting out of his eight-year contract after next season. He was the Rangers’ best player from Opening Day to the finale.

Alex Claudio: In a bullpen full of duds, Claudio was the clearly the best. He knows how to pitch with what he has, and became the most trusted reliever the Rangers had.

Joey Gallo: How can someone receive an A while batting .209? Based on where Gallo was after 2016, that’s how. He spent the entire season in the majors, swatting 41 homers and playing three positions. He’s a star in the making.

B’s

Adrian Beltre: He doesn’t get an A because he didn’t play enough, but he doesn’t get the F he feels like he deserves. When he played, he was producing like an MVP on a bum calf and, later, a bum hamstring. And the whole 3,000-hit thing was pretty cool.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx: This 32-year-old rookie was a feel-good story, and an effective pitcher. He helped the Rangers stay in striking distance in May while Cole Hamels was injured and currently stands as one of the Rangers’ top eight returning relievers.

Andrew Cashner: The season was an A for him, aside from a couple of minor injuries. Cashner was the Rangers’ best starting pitcher. He doesn’t strike out hitters anymore, by design, but competes with a power sinker. He’ll get paid this off-season.

Robinson Chirinos: The Rangers felt comfortable trading away Jonathan Lucroy because they had Chirinos, who set career-highs in homers and average while also having the confidence of the pitching staff. He’s tough, too.

Shin-Soo Choo: Though he was upset with his season, Choo stayed healthy and was the Rangers’ leading on-base man (among qualifiers). He also proved to be a steady hand in right field, and he popped 22 homers to match his career-high.

Delino DeShields: The Rangers win games when DeShields starts. They win more games when he scores a run. Though there are concerns about his defense in center field, the spark he gives the offense is invaluable.

Jake Diekman: He pitched only the final month, and was very good. He went through medical hell for six months to make his life and career better. The inspirational left-hander could very well be the Rangers’ closer in 2018.

Nomar Mazara: His average dipped as his quad injury flared in the final month, but Mazara proved to be a run producer. While runs batted in might not be a sexy statistic to numbers freaks, his team-high 101 RBI were lauded by his teammates and manager.

C’s

Matt Bush: His future might well be as a starter after an inconsistent sophomore season that included a bumpy ride in his time at closer.

Willie Calhoun: So, he didn’t contribute much in his first taste of the majors, yet he did good enough offensively and even in left field to be considered for a 2018 roster spot.

Yu Darvish: Traded on July 31, Darvish saw the Rangers lose 10 of his final 12 starts. Loaded with talent, he went out with a whimper by allowing 10 runs in his finale.

Carlos Gomez: The club hasn’t ruled out re-signing a player they have come to love. He brings energy and an edge, and he can do a lot on a baseball field ... when healthy.

Cole Hamels: The staff ace admitted that his season was a miss because he failed to reach his goals. An injury cost him nearly two months. He was very good at times.

Keone Kela: After a demotion to start the season for an attitude adjustment, Kela was the Rangers’ best reliever when healthy. But healthy was an issue for a second straight season.

Jose Leclerc: A surprise for the Opening Day roster, Leclerc found himself in key spots early on. But all the good steps forward he had taken were lost in the second half.

Martin Perez: His second half was B worthy, even though the stats show a lower first-half ERA. Perez finished with a flourish and is riding confidence entering 2018.

Ricky Rodriguez/Nick Gardewine: They’re not the same pitcher, but they are both right-handers called up from Double A Frisco in August. They showed well at times and are candidates for the Opening Day roster.

D’s

Tony Barnette: He might have pitched himself out of a $4 million club option. No pitcher in baseball allowed a higher percent (51.2) of inherited runners to score. 

A.J. Griffin: His ERA was nearly 6 (5.94) despite the only shutout of the season. Always susceptible to the homer, he was especially so this season (20 homer in 77  1/3 innings).

Jonathan Lucroy: High hopes were placed on the former All-Star catcher, and he dashed them all with one of the worst stretches of his career. He was traded July 30 to Colorado.

Nick Martinez: No one gave up more homers than Martinez, who issued 26 in only 111  1/3 innings. But he was better than in 2016 and could be in the rotation next season. 

Jurickson Profar: He didn’t get a chance to overcome his slow start. Then, he didn’t get many chances at all at the big-league level, not even in September.

Drew Robinson: Perhaps a tough grade for a rookie who didn’t get regular playing time. Nevertheless, he was streaky at the plate and defensively. 

Ryan Rua: He was given a chance to be the left fielder, albeit a short look. Some remain curious to see what he would do with regular playing time.

F’s

Sam Dyson: He went 1-6 with a 10.80 ERA in 17 appearances as the incumbent closer, and then had the nerve to go and flourish with the San Francisco Giants.

Jeremy Jeffress: He was rarely effective in 2017 before a trade back to Milwaukee, which sent him to the Rangers in 2016.

Mike Napoli: The fan favorite managed to hit only .193 with 163 strikeouts. Though he hit 29 homers, too often he came up empty in key spots.

Rougned Odor: Odor hit 30 home runs in the first year of his six-year, $49.5 million deal. But he batted .204, had an OPS of .649 ., struck out 162 times and left 265 runners.

Tyson Ross: The worst signing of the winter and one of the worst by general manager Jon Daniels, Ross never shed the rust from a year-long layoff and off-season surgery.

2018 Rangers Awards

In an age of participation trophies, everyone is a winner, but the 2017 Rangers had some players and some moments worthy of some hardware.

Player of the year: Elvis Andrus

This one isn’t even close. The only thing spoiling his career year, which included his first 20-homer season, was falling three points short of a .300 batting average. 

Pitcher of the year: Andrew Cashner

Alex Claudio was a strong candidate as a reliable bullpen workhorse, but teams often go as their rotation goes and Cashner was the Rangers’ best starter.

Rookie of the year: Austin Bibens-Dirkx

One of a few feel-good stories, Bibens-Dirkx was a 32-year-old rookie in a thin class. No, Joey Gallo was not a rookie in 2017.

Best story: Jake Diekman

The sky appears to be the limit for Diekman, who has ridded his body of ulcerative colitis and in September showed that he will be a bullpen force in 2018.

Best under-the-radar season: Shin-Soo Choo

When he’s healthy, the Rangers’ offense is better. Well, he was healthy, posted a .358 on-base percentage, a .780 on-base plus slugging percentage and hit 22 homers. Not bad.

Best should-have-a-job-in-2018 season: Delino DeShields

There are concerns about DeShields’ ability to patrol center field. There is no debate that he makes the offense better and wins games. And he’s cheap. What’s the hold up?

Best single-game performance: A.J. Griffin

The right-hander from San Diego went home and before friends and family held the San Diego Padres to four hits and a walk in the Rangers’ only shutout of the season.

Biggest letdown: Yu Darvish trade

A contender wouldn’t trade a pitcher of his caliber, even if it had lost 10 of his final 12 starts. But dealing him away was the first signal that the club didn’t like its chances.

Biggest disappearance: Jurickson Profar

The former No. 1 prospect hit only .172 in a mere 58 at-bats. The Rangers quickly gave up on him in left field and wanted him to play every day in the minors. But for what? Trade value? If teams were so interested in him, the Rangers would have already pulled the trigger.