This Day in Baseball and Rangers History for February 12

* 44 days until the Mar 28, 2024, regular season opener against the Cubs

There's no Rangers-specific or significant general baseball news or Texas signings historically related to Feb 12, but today is Josh Jung's 26th birthday! So today is Josh Jung Day, with a thumbnail profile, even though most LSBers will already know much of it.

Happy 26th Birthday Josh Jung!

Josh Jung (26 years-old: Pre-Arb, 3 waiver opts)

Josh Jung is a native of San Antonio. He committed to Texas Tech, and tried the 2016 MLB draft out of high school, but was not selected. Jung had an outstanding freshman year for Tech in 2017, starting all 62 games at 3B while batting .306. He was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team, as well as being named Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball among other sources. In 2018, Jung again started all 65 of Tech's games at 3B and slashed .392/.491/.639 with 12 HRs and 80 RBIs. In 2018, Jung was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and named an All-American by Baseball America and other sources. In his junior year in 2019, Jung missed two games due to a quadricep strain, but played both 3B and SS during the season. Jung finished his junior year slashing .343/.474/.636 with 15 HRs and 58 RBIs in 64 games. Jung played in the College World Series in both 2018 and 2019. He was named an All-American by virtually every collegiate source at the end of the 2019 season.

On Jun 3, 2019, Texas drafted Jung in the first round as the #8 overall selection, paying Jung a signing bonus of $4.4MM. There was some baseball media and fan grumbling at the time that Jung was something of a reach at that spot (at least 10 spots above his position on most boards), and that Texas overpaid for him.

On Jul 10, 2019, Jung made his professional debut with the AZL Rangers and hit a HR in his first professional at-bat. After only 3 more games in the rookie league, Jung was promoted to Class A Hickory on July 15, where he slashed .287/.363/.389/.752 with 1 HR and 23 RBIs over 40 games. Jung did not play a MiL game in 2020 due to the COVID-19 cancellation of the MiL season. At the start of the 2021 season, Jung had to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot and missed almost 3 months. Jung was activated on Jun 15 and assigned to AA Frisco, where he slashed .308/.366/.544 with 10 HRs and 40 RBIs over 43 games. In mid-Aug, Jung was promoted to AAA Round Rock, where he slashed .348/.436/.652 with 9 HRs and 21 RBIs.

Jung entered his 2022 season as the 9th ranked overall prospect in baseball by FanGraphs, and the 26th by Baseball America. Unfortunately, Jung tore the labrum in his left shoulder during off-season weight training, and underwent surgery on Feb 23. Jung was activated at the end of Jul, initially with rehab games in the AZ Complex League, and then returned to AAA Round Rock in Aug. Over 23 games with Round Rock, he hit .273 with 6 HRs and 24 RBIs. Jung was promoted to the ML team as a late-season call-up on Sept 9, 2022, and hit a HR in his first ML at-bat against Toronto. Jung appeared in 26 ML games for Texas in 2022, slashing .204/.235/.418/.654 with 5 HRs and 14 RBI.

From the outset of the 2023 season, Jung was the starting 3B. His first few games were fairly quiet offensively, but then his batting exploded, and he was named AL RoM in Apr, hitting .270 in 26 games with 4 HRs and 15 RBI, and leading all AL rookies in hits (27), HRs and total bases (44), along with solid defensive work. Jung repeated as RoM in May, ending the month on a 14-game hitting streak, while batting .318 with 4 HRs and 12 RBIs. Although his offensive metrics cooled slightly in June, Jung was voted AL starting 3B for the 2023 All-Star Game -- the first rookie to start in an All-Star game as a Texas Ranger. On Aug 6, Jung's thumb was broken while trying to field a hard-hit line drive. Jung still managed to retrieve the ball and start a DP, but had to leave the game. At that point in the season, Jung was hitting .274 with 22 HRs and 67 RBIs in 109 games. Jung had to undergo surgery on his thumb and did not return to the lineup until Sep 18, with a brace on his thumb. His offensive metrics were decidedly down for the remainder of the regular season, hitting just .208 with 1 HR and 3 RBIs in Sep. But Jung managed to pick up his hitting for the post-season. In WC Game 2 against the Rays, Jung went 3-of-4 with 2 runs, two doubles, a triple and an RBI. Jung had a HR in ALDS Game 1 against the Orioles, went 2-of-4 with 2 runs and a double in Game 2, and went 2-of-4 with 1 run in Game 3. Jung's best game in the ALCS against Houston, unfortunately, came in Game 3, when none of his teammates were hitting. Jung hit 2 2-run HRs in that loss. Otherwise, Jung's offense was relatively quiet in the ALCS. In the 5 WS games, Jung went 7-of-20 with 3 runs.

Year .... G ..... AB .... BA .... OBP .. SLG ... OPS .. OPS+ .. bWAR .. oWAR .. dWAR .. Fld% . lgFld%
2023 .. 122 .. 478 ... .266 ... .315 .. .467 ... .782 .... 109 ....... 2.4 ........ 2.3 ....... 0.4 ..... .988 .... .962
Post .... 17 ..... 65 ... .308 ... .329 .. .338 ... .867 ............ (13 R, 20 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI)

Jung finished the season in 4th position for AL RoY, in part due to his late season injury. Jung's Fielding-%-as-3B and both Range-Factors-as-3B were all the highest in the AL, and his Assists-as-3B and Double-Plays-Turned-as-3B were 3rd and 4th in the AL, respectively. The low dWAR derived by BR and given above is curious.

In an interview last month, Jung listed a couple areas that he was working to improve. "'Don’t swing at the damn slider down and away,' Jung said. 'Why do [I] do that? I know it’s a ball, I still swing at it.' ... Jung, according to Baseball Savant, swung at 157 pitches classified as down and away in 2023. He hit just .179 against sweepers and .195 (with a run value of negative 7) against sliders, the latter of which pitchers used against him nearly 25 percent of the time. He missed 60% of the outside-the-zone breaking pitches that he swung at. ... 'All that just comes with time, it's not going to be perfect right away,' Jung said. 'There’s going to be highs, there’s going to be lows, but you continue to refine your game until you can end up like Corey or somebody. Everything that's on the plate, he hammers. Everything that’s not, he takes.'" [DMN below]

FWIW, Josh Jung's younger brother, Jace Jung, also played his college baseball at Texas Tech, and was a 1st round selection by Detroit (#12 overall) in 2022.

Josh Jung (BR)
Josh Jung (BR Bullpen)
Josh Jung 2023 Game by Game Batting Logs (BA)
AJM, BA with praise for Josh Jung (LSB 2020)
AJM, Jung out 6-8 weeks with foot fracture (LSB 2021)
AJM, 2022 in review: Josh Jung (LSB 2022)
AJM, Jung to undergo surgery, out six weeks (LSB 2023)
Shawn McFarland, After a 'good' rookie season (DMN 2024) (paywall)
Josh Jung (Wikipedia)
Texas Rangers 2024 Payroll (Spotrac)
Josh Jung (Spotrac)