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Looking Back: 2019 Rangers Infield

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Reviewing the infield for last year’s Rangers team

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

First, I’d like to apologize for the infield roster breakdown in which I put “projected OPS” when I meant OBP and used OBP numbers. I fixed that in this post but I see how that was probably extremely confusing. Anyway, on to looking at the 2019 Rangers infield.

C Jeff Mathis

When the Rangers got Mathis, the front office admitted it wasn’t about his offense but about his value as a mentor for the young catchers (IK-F and Trevino). Even with that disclaimer, his bat still managed to disappoint; to be fair to Mathis, though, that might have been the result of a huge jump in workload. He appeared in 86 games in 2019, the most since his 2011 season where he appeared in 93 games. Now that Chirinos is back in the fold for 2020, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers drop Mathis or try to make a Mathis/Chirinos time share work.

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .193
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .258
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .283

2019 AVG: .158
2019 OBP: .209
2019 SLG: .224
Games played: 86

C/3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Kiner-Falefa started 2019 as a catcher, he ended up totaling 38 games behind the plate. But his offensive numbers took a hit. In June he landed on the injured list for a sprained ligament in his right middle finger. By the time he was recalled in August, he was almost exclusively at third base. During the season, he mentioned it was difficult to focus on offense while learning a new position, so after returning to a position he was more familiar with, his offense rebounded a little bit. 2020 will be an interesting year. Is the catching experiment truly over? Will he and newly signed veteran Todd Fraizer form a new platoon? Is there a new position on the horizon for him?

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .252
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .315
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .333

2019 AVG: .238
2019 OBP: .299
2019 SLG: .322
Games played: 65 (38 games at catcher, 25 at third base)

C Jose Trevino

I thought Trevino was really fun to watch for the 40 games he played; he looked really sharp on defense which for me, makes it easier to watch so-so at-bats. Personally, I’d love to see the Rangers make him the primary backup catcher to Chirinos in 2020, and let Mathis walk.

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .219
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .250
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .314

2019 AVG: .258
2019 OBP: ..272
2019 SLG: .383
Games played: 40

1B Ronald Guzman

2019 was an offensive struggle for Guzman; he even admitted to feeling lost during ABs during the season. All the time he missed probably didn’t help: his early season was interrupted by a strained right hamstring and he sent lots of time during the summer (some of July and all of August) toiling in Nashville, trying to cure whatever was ailing his swing . I think he’s one of the guys that will be looked at hard at Spring Training, especially if the Rangers don’t make another move that would provide more help at first base.

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .247
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .314
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .403

2019 AVG: .219
2019 OBP: .308
2019 SLG: .414
Games played: 87

2B Rougned Odor

What’s left to say about his season that doesn’t feel like piling on at this point? 2019 was awful for Rougie and, like Guzman, I think he’ll be looked at hard during Spring Training and I really hope he’ll have a much shorter leash in 2020, especially if it starts as rough as 2019. Nick Solak, Rangers 2019 rookie of the year, is more than capable, so it could be an interesting year at second base.

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .249
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .307
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .445

2019 AVG: .205
2019 OBP: .283
2019 SLG: .439
Games Played: 145

SS Elvis Andrus

For the second year in a row, Elvis looked primed for a breakout year with his bat , but got derailed by an early injury (right hamstring strain). One thing I’ve noticed specifically with Elvis, is when he comes back from injury he’s not the same. The injury just seems to throw him off and I wonder if that’s because he consistently played between 145-160 games since being called up in 2009 and had never missed extended time until he only played 97 games in 2018.

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .272
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .322
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .403

2019 AVG: .275
2019 OBP: .313
2019 SLG: .393
Games played: 147

3B Asdrubal Cabrera

Replacing a legend is never easy, especially the first year. So, it was going to an almost impossible task to play third for the Rangers the first season post Adrian Beltre. And, while those expectations are not fair, it is fair to say that Cabrera just didn’t come anywhere close to being what the team needed. So the Rangers dropped him on August 3, and the Nats picked him up three days later and got him ring (because OF FREAKING COURSE).

ZiPS Projected 2019 AVG: .268
ZiPS Projected 2019 OBP: .325
ZiPS Projected 2019 SLG: .461

2019 AVG: .235 with Rangers (.260 overall)
2019 OBP: .318 with Rangers (.342 overall)
2019 SLG: .393 with Rangers (.441 overall)
Games played : 93 (with Rangers, all at third base)

1B, CF, 2B, RF, LF, 2B, SS Danny Santana

I think Santana was probably the biggest surprise of the Rangers season? You can argue Hunter Pence and I wouldn’t push back too hard but Santana didn’t miss time with an injury and was very reliable at-bat to at-bat and defensively, he could play pretty much everywhere. He added so much, ESPECIALLY for a guy who was pegged for mostly bench role, spot starter. He was pretty much the only one that didn’t slump in July (his slump came a month later but how nice of him to wait to slump until other bats started going!) It seems as though instead of bouncing around, he’ll most likely be playing center field this season and it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue what he had last season at the plate.

2019 AVG: .283
2019 OBP: .324
2019 SLG: .534
Games played: 130 (44 games at 1B, 17 games at 2B, eight games at 3B, nine games at SS, 16 games at LF, 27 games at CF, 15 games at RF)

1B, 3B, SS, 2B Logan Forsythe

Again, like Santana, Forsythe was expected to be just a general bench player…a classic “let’s just see what he does for a month or two” kind of signing. At the beginning of the season, they both proved to be very valuable. Especially when Elvis, Guzman, and IKF all had injuries that overlapped. He’s a free agent and as of January 14 hasn’t signed anywhere.

2019 AVG: .227
2019 OBP: .325
2019 SLG: .353
Games played: 101 (46 games at 1B, eight games at 2B, 33 games at 3B, 15 games at SS)

2B/3B Nick Solak

The Rangers 2019 Rookie of the Year who is keeping Rougie on his toes because, while he only played five games at 2B, JD said Solak looked like a major league ready second baseman as soon as he entered the Rangers organization in July. And when he got his chance in August with the big club, Solak’s bat proved JD right.

2019 AVG: .293
2019 OBP: .393
2019 SLG: .491
Games played: 33 (Five games at 2B, 11 games at 3B)