Without a doubt, the Texas Rangers have had a history of maintaining solid first basemen buckled up down the right field line.
Those glimpses of individual success include the legendary Rafael Palmeiro, the only player in team history aside from Juan Gonzàlez to hit more than 300 home runs and over 1,000 RBIs, Mark Teixeira, a player who ranks second in team history in slugging percentage at .533 and OPS at .901, and Will Clark, a guy who played an integral role in helping the Rangers make their first ever postseason appearance in 1996.
Earlier this season, the Rangers did some experimenting at first base with infielder Joey Gallo. Though Gallo’s stint at first base was decent to some extent, first base wasn’t the part of diamond in which Gallo wanted to be playing defense. Fortunately for the Rangers, a team that ranks No. 28 in both team batting average at .230 and fielding percentage at .980, Ronald Guzmàn happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The 6’5″ 23-year-old rookie from the Dominican Republic originally signed with the Rangers as an international free agent alongside Nomar Mazara in 2011. After making his professional debut in 2012 with the Arizona Rangers of the Rookie-level Arizona League, Guzmàn bounced around the Rangers’ farm system numerous times before finally getting called up to the MLB on April 13 for the start of a three-game weekend series in Houston against the Astros. Guzmàn’s first big league game featured him going 1-for-3 at the plate, which isn’t bad for anyone’s debut.
While his debut wasn’t terrible, it was the very next game in which Guzmàn broke through. In the top-of-the-8th inning with the Rangers trailing 4-5 with 2 outs, Guzmàn annihilated Brad Peacock’s 2-2 pitch deep to right field for a solo homer that tied the game 5-5.
The game then headed into extra innings. Fortunately for both Guzmàn and his teammates, the fun wasn’t over just yet. Back up to the plate in the top-of-the-10th inning with the bases loaded, Guzmàn delivered again for the Rangers with a go-ahead infield single off Will Harris that resulted in a 6-5 victory. From that point on, it was evident that the Rangers potentially had a dependable first baseman.
Thus far, Guzmàn is batting .229 with 7 homers and 29 RBIs on 36 total hits in 47 games while his OBP sits at .301. Not to mention, Guzmàn remarkably hit 4 home runs over a five game home game stretch from May 21-25. Although Guzmàn has been struggling a bit in his last seven games with only 5 hits in 22 at-bats to go with eight strikeouts, it’s important to note that his OBP has consistently been around the .300 mark since the beginning of the Rangers-Mariners series in Seattle that kicked off on May 28.
Defensively, Guzmàn is listed as the No. 1 first baseman on the Rangers’ depth chart and has played in that position in 45 of his 47 games played this season. At this point, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Rangers fans see Guzmàn stay put at first base given that his fielding percentage currently stands at .988.
There’s still 94 games left to be played, and though being in last place in the AL West with a 27-41 record isn’t very fun, watching Ronald Guzmàn develop right in front of our eyes certainly is.
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