For the record, I love the baseball website Fangraphs, and refer to their content on a frequent basis. But sometimes they can get a little too by the numbers on some of their takes. Their first shot at the 2024 power rankings is a perfect example. Fangraphs has the World Series champion Texas Rangers ranked as the 12th best team in MLB and the ninth in the American League. That is a bit laughable and shows no respect for the playoff appearance and subsequent run through the postseason that ended with the franchise’s first ever Fall Classic series victory.
Power rankings in general are hard to do, and especially this far out from the beginning of the new season. With roster spots still to be filled on most teams, the overall makeup of any given team can be much different coming out of spring training as opposed to the middle of November. The questionable part of this particular first crack at a power ranking is that it seems to not give a ton of credit to the huge amount of Rangers players that are returning.
Last season’s Texas Rangers offense scored the most runs in the American League (881) and was third overall behind only the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Not only did the Rangers offense do well last year, but they will be returning all of their regular starters with the lone exception at designated hitter. The team will have a new DH in 2024 and it is yet to be determined who will fill that role, but with all of the other pieces in place, it is hard to believe that the Rangers will fall off very far offensively.
One of the hardest parts of baseball to measure is defense. There have been numerous attempts over the years, and while it is better than it used to be, there is still a disconnect between how a defense plays and a numerical value that is placed on it. But one thing that can’t be argued, is the fact that the Rangers were one of the best defensive teams in MLB last season. With all eight of the regular defenders coming back for 2024, that will prove to be a strength yet again.
Pitching, its always about the pitching. The Rangers do have some holes that need to be filled in the rotation and the bullpen needs a few arms added as well. With that being said, when a team can start with a core base of Nathan Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, and Jon Gray and still have Dane Dunning and Andrew Heaney as possible fifth starters, things are not all that bad. And in the bullpen, the Rangers have found that a healthy Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc can handle the best lineups in the biggest situations in baseball.
Chris Young will be adding to the pitching side of the roster and when he does, I am sure that the Rangers will move up this power rankings a bit. It just seems disrespectful to what the Rangers were able to do in 2023, to predict that they will do so much worse in 2024. The Rangers had 90 wins in 2023, with a Pythagorean win total of 96. Fangraphs currently has the Rangers accumulating only 83 wins. That seems on the light side to me.
Do I think that they will win the World Series next year? No way am I going to go there. I would say that the Rangers have a legit shot at making the playoffs, and yet we should realize that even that isn’t a guarantee (see the 2023 Mets and Padres). Time will tell, and I am sure that it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.