We have officially reached “Opening Week” in Major League Baseball with games set to start on Thursday and then the Rangers officially beginning their season on Friday against the Colorado Rockies at Globe Life Field. There are still plenty of questions to be answered about how well MLB’s plan to keep their players safe and healthy will go once they begin regularly traveling around the country for games, but there appears to be nothing that can stop the season from starting this week. For now, we’ll approach this as if things will be able to work out for all of baseball during its shortened 2020 season.
It’s tough to come up with expectations for anyone in this unique season, but it will be even harder to come up with a fair judgement of a players performance once this is all said and done with. Our staff gathered to share our thoughts on what we will or will not take away from this season.
How hard will it be to have an understanding/grasp on a player’s long-term development based off a sixty game season?
Alex Plinck: There are a lot of factors to evaluate any player this season. First, there are even more health questions throughout the season. Teams must deal with either player injuries and player health protocols. Therefore, if a player tests positive, they automatically lose two weeks, which is already a decent chunk of this season. The type of development fans could see is what Chris Woodward talked about last year: evaluate the at-bats themselves rather than the results. If a pitcher shows reasonable control and command but is getting torched, then you can spin a positive analysis rather than writing him off as a bad season. Same goes for hitters if a hitter is working the count and getting good swings, just some bad luck, then there is more forgiveness if the numbers don’t add up.
Corey Douglass: One 162 game season isn’t enough to correctly project players going forward so a 60 game season is nearly impossible, especially with some of the young guys like Nick Solak or Scott Heineman. As a whole, I’m skeptical with the Rangers development staff based on recent results so having a shortened season isn’t ideal for that process.
Darien Clark: I believe this is the question of the shortened season: development in general. The veteran presence will be as crucial as ever as they not only provide consistency, but also a voice to those that are developing within their careers. I see guys like Nick Solak, Scott Heineman and even Rougned Odor who will have to fight day-in and day-our to actually find the development they desire in a season where they will lose 100 in-game reps. Especially with Solak potentially changing positions indefinitely. I’m not saying this is a waste of a season for the young studs. I’m saying even if any of these guys have a good season, it won’t be enough to say they are a long-term addition who’s ready to contribute on a consistent basis across a normal 162-game season.
Whose performance over 60 games will have Rangers fans most excited after this season?
Alex: I’m curious to see how Rougned Odor will fare in the 2020 season. Rougie is one of those players who can carry a team when he gets on a roll. When Odor gets into a stretch (good or bad), it lasts a long time. In camp, Rougie is putting together some good at-bats and making solid contact, a promising aspect. Therefore, if Odor keeps the trend going, he’ll make a profound impact on the roster. The downside is if he slides to the other part of the spectrum. Rougie worked hard this offseason after many questions marks surrounded him; therefore, I think of these sixty games as another audition for Odor that he can make it successfully in the big leagues.
Corey: I am struggling to know how much a 60 game season will help or stunt a players growth. Being accustomed to something for so long as a player and then having over 100 games taken away from you has to be a challenge. With that being said, my guy that I think Rangers fans will be most excited about after this shortened season is Nick Solak. I feel that it’s very important to find him as many at bats as possible in this shortened season and because Chris Woodward is aware of that, Solak is a guy that could head into 2021 as an everyday player.
Darien: I am also very curious to see how Odor’s progress pans out at the end of this season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he bats above .300. Aside from Rougie, I would love to see Corey Kluber have the resurgence he’s destined to have. Coming off an injury-plagued season and extended rest, he should be more than ready to go. A shortened season is perfect for him considering his age, and number of pitches he has. Kluber should only have to start a total of 12 games, so he is in a prime position to display his Cy Young stats that he did a few years ago with the hopes that injuries stay out of the way. His arm will hopefully thank him once October rolls around this year.
Corey Kluber's final line before Opening Weekend, 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 Ks and allowed a home run. But there was little to now fielders so take that into consideration #Rangers. He also threw 76% strikes (87 total, 66 strikes).
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 20, 2020
Whose performance could leave fans and management the most concerned after this season?
Alex: Just like 2020 is an audition for Odor, it’s also an audition for Ronald Guzman. Guzy’s defense hasn’t lost a beat and remains the best defensive option at first base for the Rangers. However, Guzman’s camp hasn’t been as good as the club hoped. Unluckily, Ronald got a late and that gave his competition like Greg Bird more opportunities to show the club what he can do. The Rangers sent Guzman down to AAA in July last season for a month and a half, and once he got back up, he showed poise at the plate.
Corey: No matter what he does in 2020, Rougned Odor is going to present a level of concern going forward. If Odor comes out and tears it up in this 60 game season, that won’t be enough to make up for his last couple of seasons. On the flip side, if he struggles, the concern level won’t just be with fans, there will be concerns in the front office and those concerns will present questions on him as a major league player going forward.
Darien: I’m most concerned for the guys that already had very limited reps. These could consist of the likes of Joe Palumbo and Leody Taveras. Players that are right on the cusp of the Opening Day roster may get a rep or two in a week or so, may now only see the field once or twice this entire season. Injuries are now less likely and the purpose of developing others that are on the Opening Day are much more important. If they already have limited reps due to a shortened season then the guys that are just on the outside certainly won’t have much of an opportunity.
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