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Is Success Picking up for Rangers’ Leody Taveras?

Photo: Bailey Orr / Texas Rangers

Is Success Picking up for Rangers’ Leody Taveras?

Leody Taveras is entering his fifth season with the Texas Rangers. Last season, Taveras had his best year as a Major Leaguer, hitting .266 with an OPS of .733 and 67 RBI at the bottom of the order. However, the start of 2024 hasn’t gone Leody’s way. Taveras started 2024 going 16 for 80 with six extra-base hits and 16 strikeouts.

“I think the first few weeks, as most hitters want to get out to a good start, he was trying to force the issue a lot with a lot of body and a lot of pull-side ground balls, Rangers hitting coach Tim Hyers said regarding Taveras’s first few weeks. “Recently, we’ve seen him use the whole field, stay on balls, and work on his swing and path to stay through the ball.”

A positive during that stretch was that Taveras’ chase rate was lower than usual. Therefore, according to Rangers’ offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker, the struggles to start the year were more about bat-to-ball than chasing out of the zone. “More movement [and Leody’s] ability to impact the baseball. We’ve seen it on the right trends [and] fully expect that to start to come back for him, Ecker told me.

In his fifth season, the full potential hasn’t quite been reached for Leody Taveras, with Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford in the big leagues, which may have put extra pressure to perform. “It’s human nature, Hyers told me when asked if that contributed to Taveras’s early struggles. I think, first of all, he has high expectations for himself; all of these guys do. Competition and the number of good players in the organization all, to some degree, put pressure on themselves in that matter, and that could play a bit of a part in the start.

Hyers mentioned that in Spring Training, he noticed that Leody wasn’t getting the results and could tell that Taveras was getting frustrated. Hyers felt like this added to the pressure, which carried over to begin the season.

Ecker told me that he felt Taveras wasn’t necessarily searching for results but agreed that Taveras views a high standard for himself. “This game is really hard in general, and players go through certain stretches. I think where the friction comes from for him is that his standard is so high for himself. He had glimpses like last year in the first half, where he rolled a .900 OPS for us for four months. He’s got a really high standard for himself [and] he’s working hard to get back to that.”

Leody is in a stretch where he’s reached base in seven straight games, and Friday’s hitless game ended a five-game hitting streak. Taveras picked up his first home run in Tuesday’s win over the Nationals. It appears that Leody Taveras is hitting his stride. As Bruce Bochy pointed out before the stretch began, Leody hadn’t found his groove but made some hard outs, and it was starting to come around.

It’s strange to think that Leody Taveras is only 25 years old. He made his Major League debut at 21, so the potential and the ceiling are still attainable.

You look across the league, and young players are breaking in the big leagues, and they can’t make it through a month up here. This game is so hard. For Leody, who was rushed to the big leagues really early, he’s doing a nice job. This game is full of challenges and will test you sometimes, Ecker said.

Is it too early to think about moving away from Taveras? Absolutely. With the speed, range, and power, the potential is there. While there isn’t a true celling, Leody Taveras still has a good chance of becoming a force in the Texas Rangers lineup. “He can do all facets of the game, Hyers told me. “He can run, hit for power, hit, switch hitter, I mean, you name it, he can do it.

A lot of players across the league would die to have [Leody’s] physical skills and makeup, Ecker told me.

The key for Leody, and to Hyers’ point, is staying in the middle of the box and using the whole field. That’s where Taveras is at his best. It’s about consistency and minimizing the slumps and valleys. It appears that Leody has started to do that in the past week.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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