With the 2019 Texas Rangers season now over, I’m going to do a series of posts handing out grades to every player who appeared for the Rangers this year. I’m starting with pitchers, will go in alphabetical order, and then will do position players in alphabetical order.
Grades will be based on a combination of performance, expectations, and my own whims at the moment I happen to be typing this up. They aren’t to be taken too seriously.
We finally wrapped up pitchers with Part XI...
And then I got distracted and didn’t do any grades for a while.
But fear not...today we continue with Part XIV...
LOGAN FORSYTHE — C
The storyline for Forsythe in 2019 was fairly winding. The original plan, it appeared, was that the Rangers were going to have Asdrubal Cabrera be both the starting third baseman and the backup infielder, allowing the Rangers to keep someone like Matt Davidson or Patrick Wisdom on the bench as the backup infielder, since, if Elvis Andrus or Rougned Odor needed a day off, Cabrera could move over to their position and Davidson or Wisdom could man third base.
But then there were indications that that plan wasn’t something Cabrera and/or the team were comfortable with. Logan Forsythe, coming off a bad year for the Dodgers and Twins, was signed to a minor league deal in late February. Chris Woodward knew Forsythe from his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and liked him and felt he would fit in with what he was seeking to implement with the Rangers.
Forsythe made the team. And he was good for a while! At this point folks may have forgotten, but he was a key contributor to the Rangers’ early success. Playing on a fairly regular basis at a variety of positions, he slashed .278/.376/.468 in April and .333/.444/.483 in May. That’s good! He looked like a great offseason pickup!
Then Forsythe slashed .140/.228/.200 in June. He rebounded to put up a 790 OPS in July, albeit with a .205 batting average, then slashed .162/.225/.203 in August and had a 517 OPS in 16 plate appearances in September. He peaked on June 4, with a .307/.410/,.486 slash line in 167 plate appearances. After that, Forsythe slashed .164/.255/.249 the rest of the way in 200 plate appearances.
So Forsythe was good until he wasn’t, and was around a replacement level player, whose .227/.325/.353 slash line on the season wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t been playing so much first base. As a utility infielder, he was serviceable. Maybe he brought additional value in his ability to steal signs and provide buy-in for Chris Woodward’s way of doing things, but on the field, he was just a random replacement level player.
JOEY GALLO — B+
Joey Gallo was an MVP candidate when he was on the field. The problem, of course, was that he couldn’t stay on the field. He only played 70 games in 2019, due to an oblique injury and then season-ending surgery to remove a hamate bone in his hand. He put up a 3.0 bWAR and a 986 OPS in those 70 games, as well as making the All Star Game, but the injuries made you wonder what could have been.
I’m a Joey Gallo guy and I want the Rangers to lock him up long-term. That being said, I also have some concerns about his ability to stay healthy. He’s huge and swings really hard, and that combination may be difficult for a player to have without missing a lot of time. Giancarlo Stanton, who Gallo gets compared to, played 18 games last season, 74 games in 205, and has missed significant time in several other seasons. Aaron Judge, another Gallo-esque player, played 112 games in 2018 and 102 in 2019. One has to wonder if Gallo is someone who is going to have a month missed per year because of the stress his power and strength puts on his body.
I don’t know, of course. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV. I’m just guessing, and extrapolating based on a tiny set of comparables. But Joey Gallo should be the Rangers’ best player the next half-decade, and his ability to stay off the injured list is probably going to have a lot to do with how successful the team will be going forward.
RONALD GUZMAN — D
Ronald Guzman started off the season well, went on the injured list, came back, didn’t hit, got sent to the minors, then returned in September and hit well again. Overall, his slash line for 2019 (.219/.308/.414) was almost identical to his slash line in 2018 (.235/.306/.416), and in neither year was that enough to make his a viable starting first baseman, even with what everyone seems to agree is sterling glove work at first base.
The Rangers bit the bullet with Guzman and sent him down when he was struggling and appeared to be stagnating, something they haven’t done with his fellow 2011 J-2 signee Nomar Mazara. Guzman has a nice swing and has talked about working to incorporate more loft in his swing to tap into more of his power, which he will need to do if he’s going to be a major league regular.
Guzman just turned 25 in October, so even though it feels like he’s been around for decades and has flamed out, he’s still relatively young. He’s not going to be handed the first base job for 2020, and may end up back in Nashville. There seems to be potential there — not for a star, but for a major league regular — and we should know in the next 24 months whether that’s going to be reached.