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New Rangers Approach Paying Dividends on Offense

Photo: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers

New Rangers Approach Paying Dividends on Offense

The Rangers’ offense is on a mission in the first 30 games of the season. It’s an offense averaging more than six runs a game, second in MLB in runs scored, tops in OPS with runners in scoring position, and fifth in overall OPS. The ironic thing about that is, from a roster standpoint, you’re dealing with more of the same players from 2022. Granted, Josh Jung (the 2023 April Rookie of the Month in the American League) got into the Majors in September, but 12 of the 15 position players taking at-bats were on the roster in 2022.

In a deeper look into the numbers, the Rangers are taking a more selective approach at the plate. Their chase rate lowered by 6% between 2022 and 2023, and 11 of the 12 players on last year’s roster all dropped their chase rate (Ezequiel Duran being the exception). They’re also swinging at a much lower percentage (37% in 2022 and 30% in 2023) with fewer swings and misses. The strikeout per game slightly decreased (8.8 this season to 8.9 last season), but the Rangers are walking a lot more, which equates to more damage hitting the ball out of the ballpark.

There could be a couple of reasons for the vast change with little turnover. First, guys like Travis Jankowski and Robbie Grossman only chased a little, while Charlie Culberson had a chase rate of over 40% in 2022. Second, guys like Jung, Duran, Josh Smith, and Bubba Thompson are getting more playing time and adding comfort in the big leagues. Remember, the 2022 total includes players like Kole Calhoun, Nick Solak, Culberson, and others. Jung said that last year’s September was essential for the success he’s having right now.

“I was able to come in Opening Day comfortable and not have to go through all those emotions I went through that first month last year,” Jung said. “It set the table for myself to breathe and have some fun with it.”

Two factors influence the numbers the most. First, it’s the starting pitching. There’s a thought going in knowing that you don’t need to score five or more runs every game because of the trust of whose taking the mound. Starting pitching indirectly influences other aspects of the team, like offense and defense. Second is the overall approach the team took in the offseason.

Selectivity was an approach that specifically Adolis García took in Spring Training. With that, García is chasing an 11% decrease from last season, making hard contact at a 50% rate and swinging at the first pitch 10% less than last season. It’s helped his walk rate increase by 1.1% but significantly decreased his strikeout percentage between seasons by 6.6%. It appears a lot of the team is following suit.

“I know it was an area that all wanted to get better at,” Bruce Bochy told me when asked about the change from last season to this season on the offensive side. “[Donnie Ecker], [Tim Hyers], and a lot of our hitting guys, that was an area that they wanted these guys to improve on is cut down the chase and look for a good pitch to hit. These guys are doing a good job at sticking with the game plan, taking their walks when they’re given the walks, and passing the baton to the next guy. I think it works best.”

The momentum started on Tuesday, tagging Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen for his first runs in a month, along with seven runs on Wednesday (despite the loss). Now the club will hit the road for a three-city west coast trip in May with one homestand. It’s time to take the Rangers’ offense on a road trip.

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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