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Reasons to watch the 2018 Texas Rangers

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We’ve got Adrian Beltre!

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself, as much as anyone else reading this, but I still plan to watch and enjoy the 2018 Texas Rangers. My assumption is you would also like to do this so let’s figure this out together.

My love for baseball and the Rangers is so deeply woven into the fabric of who I am that those charlatans in Arlington have me by the heartstrings pretty much no matter what — unless Rob Manfred continues his crusade to turn the sport into Calvinball and it is no longer recognizable to me.

For just the second time since Ron Washington’s second season nearly ten years ago, the Rangers are coming off a sub .500 season and the general feeling I get for how things are going to go from the amalgamation of projections, predictions, and fan temperature-taking appears to range from maybe they’ll lose to the Red Sox in the Wild Card game if they’re the luckiest team in history to they’ll definitely lose 150 games.

The reality is probably that the Rangers are just where they’ve been saying (but not really saying) they were all along. They’re going to try to make the playoffs but have made it clear by their transactions that this is something of a transitional season.

Jon Daniels has put together a team that could make the playoffs — mostly because like 20 teams make the playoffs now — or they more likely won’t and we’ve got 162 games to figure out what to do with ourselves while they grab a nice draft pick and get us one year closer to Leody Taveras and Hans Crouse.

But that’s just macroverse problems. You and I, the folks who’ll visit a team-centric blog site, we get to live in the microverse where, hopefully, our pleasure isn’t measured simply by wins and losses. Only mostly.

What I’m getting at here is even if the Rangers lose 150 games, Joey Gallo is going to hit 150 glorious dongs so why should we sweat it?

Let me first list 29 reasons you should care about the 2018 Texas Rangers. This part is easy:

  1. Adrian Beltre
  2. Adrian Beltre
  3. Adrian Beltre
  4. Adrian Beltre
  5. Adrian Beltre
  6. Adrian Beltre
  7. Adrian Beltre
  8. Adrian Beltre
  9. Adrian Beltre
  10. Adrian Beltre
  11. Adrian Beltre
  12. Adrian Beltre
  13. Adrian Beltre
  14. Adrian Beltre
  15. Adrian Beltre
  16. Adrian Beltre
  17. Adrian Beltre
  18. Adrian Beltre
  19. Adrian Beltre
  20. Adrian Beltre
  21. Adrian Beltre
  22. Adrian Beltre
  23. Adrian Beltre
  24. Adrian Beltre
  25. Adrian Beltre
  26. Adrian Beltre
  27. Adrian Beltre
  28. Adrian Beltre
  29. Adrian Beltre

Why 29? That’s the number Beltre wears on his back. You won’t ever see it worn by another Texas Ranger so you might as well get your fill while you can.

If this is a transitional year, which is definitely being taken to mean “we suck,” then there’s a pretty good chance that four months from now Adrian Beltre will have played his last game in a Texas Rangers uniform. If he asks, he’ll be moved from this team when it becomes clear that they’re out of contention to one that can get him the ring that will cap off his career.

So here’s mostly every reason you should care about the Rangers in 2018: Adrian Beltre is a Ranger. He won’t be forever. Savor every moment of it. Adrian Beltre is one of the best baseball players to ever breathe, definitely the most entertaining human to ever live, and he’s yours. But only for now. Don’t waste this.

Did I mention Joey Gallo’s glorious dongs? Gallo exists for two reasons: 1. To entertain us baseball idiots who look for reasons to care by being an absolute freak of nature and 2. To entertain everyone else by definitely being the guy who will finally hit one over the home run porch at The Ballpark.

Gallo is going to bat second in the lineup this season and it’s going to drive people who look at his batting average and strikeouts crazy and he’s going to hit 60 dongs and challenge to be an All-Star who hits .220 and dismantle the game in ways Manfred could never dare. It’s going to be great.

I don’t think Nomar Mazara is ever going to be the loud superstar type. They call him The Big Chill for a reason. Joey Gallo is going to play that role for the Rangers. However, Mazara is still going to be good for like 15 years and this is probably the year that kicks off.

Mazara has so many believers that he even made the grandfather of sabermetrics Bill James kind of lose his mind on Twitter and I don’t know that he ever regained it. But others such as Keith Law see Mazara as ready for a breakout season, as well. Mazara’s got that preseason juice.

The next time the Rangers are a likely playoff team, Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara will be the feared hitters in the lineup and it feels like this is the season that it begins to coalesce. I’m not missing out on that.

Of course, the Rangers thought Rougned Odor was going to be one of those young core player types and locked him up to a big extension last spring and then he went out and was perhaps the worst everyday position player in baseball. So who knows, right?

I would bet that Odor won’t be the worst everyday position player in baseball in 2018 if only because he still has the talent and a heckton of pride, and though he might have lost the luster of being a player that can be counted on as being a big part of the future, the hope is he bounces back to being a useful player for the Rangers going forward.

That’s certainly something to watch because right behind Odor, for the 100th consecutive season, is Jurickson Profar quietly hoping to finally become a big leaguer of any noteworthy repute.

After a million trials and tribulations, gone are the days of being the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball but Profar will be on the big league club all year with an eye on usurping Odor should Rougie continue to stink.

Profar won’t get that shot this season of being the everyday shortstop that we envisioned he would be by this point because Elvis Andrus has finally shrugged off the years of Ron Washington indoctrination and has become the player we hoped Profar would become.

If Elvis doesn’t opt out after this season, he’s likely going to end up at the top of virtually every non-power stat category in Rangers history before he hangs it up. As it stands now, the eternally youthful SS will be entering his tenth season and has played in nearly one of every five games the Rangers have ever played since coming to Texas, including the playoffs.

Elvis Andrus is the definition of a franchise stalwart and he hit 20 home runs in 2017 which was just about the most unlikely thing that has ever happened.

I want to watch Robinson Chirinos play a full, healthy season and make the All-Star team. No one deserves it more than him.

I want to watch Delino DeShields blossom into a center fielder. I don’t have full confidence that he’ll get there defensively, but I’m looking forward to watching him try because I think he’s a lot of fun on the bases and his eye at the plate is a joy to watch when he’s drawing walks.

But no one on the Rangers does it better than Shin-Soo Choo when it comes to making a pitcher work and getting on base. I am not now nor have I ever been a big fan of Choo’s contract but his style at the plate is exactly the kind that I admire. I think his ability to discern the strike zone with such a precise eye also pisses off opposing pitchers as he’ll often takes a base for free after getting plunked.

Also, there’s Ryan Rua, I guess.

Maybe JD remade the pitching staff not to be good but for weirdos like me to have fun with the fact that he acquired a Moore, Minor, and Fister, to go along with his ‘Teen and Bush. Not satisfied that we were getting the joke, he brings in Colon and Lincecum.

Or, there’s this:

Yeah, JD is just having his own fun. I respect it.

Look man, I don’t know what’s going to happen this season but I know I’ll find my own joy if things go south and it won’t even be all that difficult because the Rangers have Adrian Beltre.

Secret bonus option*: Hate watching! If the Rangers plummet to 20 games under by mid-May, you think I’m going to be sunny about seeing Matt Moore and his 6.66 ERA out there? Perhaps at that point only some visceral indignation will get you through the season. That’s fair. The Rangers signed Bartolo Colon instead of Yu Darvish. You’ll only be giving them what they deserve. *Secret bonus option does not extend to Adrian Beltre who is the last and only pure thing on this terrible earth.

If nothing else gets you going in 2018, at the very least you can grab a hot dog stuffed inside a hollowed out pickle, coated with cornmeal, and deep fried to a piping hot, golden brown crunch. Mmm boy! Come for Adrian Beltre, stay for a Dilly Dog.