Rangers 50th season looks promising with new players and clashes

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There was a moment in time in February when America’s favorite pastime may have been in jeopardy, but alas, baseball season is upon us. Lockdown is over and real in-person baseball games are back. As the Texas Rangers celebrate their 50th anniversary with some bright new players and plenty of hope, here are some things to watch between Opening Day Friday and when the rubber hits the road in October. Here are the Rangers players and matchups to watch in 2022.

Corey Seager – SS and Marcus Semien – 2B

“The Half-Billion Dollar Babies,” as sportswriter Evan Grant calls Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, have been described as “baseball’s best midfielder” and dramatically changed public expectations of midfielders. Rangers. Seager, the 2020 World Series MVP, has batted above .300 the past two seasons and currently has a career batting average of .297. Semien hit 45 homers in 2021 with the Blue Jays, the third-most players, behind Blue Jays stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Salvador Perez and Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani. With the duo locked in for what will likely be the best years of the 2020s, and the infield finally set to include slugger Nathaniel Lowe at the start and prospect Josh Jung at third, the Rangers’ future is now. As Timbuk 3 sang, “The future is so bright, I gotta wear sunglasses.”

Adolis Garcia – OF

Rangers’ biggest star of 2021, the rookie known as ‘El Bombi’ has become the franchise’s de facto face following the departure of Joey Gallo. Garcia finished the 2021 season leading with 31 home runs, 90 RBI, .741 batting percentage and 16 stolen bases – both former stats breaking Pete Incaviglia’s 35-year-old record of 30 home runs and 88 RBI for a rookie Rangers. Since 2000, the only other MLB rookies to have 30+ homers, 80+ RBIs and 10+ stolen bases have been Brewers slugger Ryan Braun in 2007, Angels titan Mike Trout in 2012 and Dodgers star Cody Bellinger in 2017. While he was stripped of a Gold Glove Award in right field due to his numerous starts in center field, Garcia isn’t expected to be the Rangers’ only runaway hitter this year. . With the half-billion-dollar babies occupying center field in front of him, Garcia is certainly in good company.

Jonas Heim – C

Supposedly, the people of Buffalo are well balanced, and receiver Jonah Heim is no exception. Highlighted by back-to-back home runs against the Seattle Mariners in home thrillers and an outlier in a series against the Blue Jays, which landed him batting in front of a home crowd, “The Buffalo Bomber “definitely earned its nickname on the big stage. The rest of Heim’s 2021 season was characterized by hot and cold streaks — the memory of which was erased thanks to a stellar spring training performance, including a .368 batting average in 19 at-bats. While the spring training numbers are still a bit inflated, that’s a huge improvement from the 0.148 average he set in spring training 2021. If that improvement translates to a big stage, so Heim is ready to be a bat out of hell. The sailors watch.

Eli White – DE

In the words of Three Dog Night: “Eliiiiiiiii is coming!” Along with being among the fastest sprinters in all of MLB, Eli White’s 2021 year has been characterized by a string of impressive defensive plays on the court, but struggled a bit at home plate. However, White made a significant improvement in spring training, hitting .273 with two homers. Rangers own manager Chris Woodward said White had made the most improvement of any player and went so far as to say he had the most potential in the team if he found his swing.

Andy Ibanez – 3B

With beloved infielder Isaiah Kiner-Falefa traded to the Yankees and third base prospect Josh Jung sidelined with an elbow injury, Andy Ibanez finds himself in the spotlight once again. In 2021, Ibanez hit .277 on 253 at-bats, seven of which came off the field. In spring training, he hit .345 with two homers, so if anything, Josh Jung will have to prove himself worthy of taking over third base from Ibanez if all goes well for the Rangers in the next weeks.

Jon Gray – RHP

Although the Rangers still have a bit of a throwing problem, the first step toward improving that problem came in the form of former Rockies veteran right-hander Jon Gray. He posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1-0 record in lockout-shortened spring training and is set to take the mound for the Rangers’ season opener in Toronto. Rangers have the bats, but now they need the arms. Help us, Jon Gray. You are our only hope (for now).

Can’t Miss Matchups of the Season

Aside from an abundance of matchups against division rivals Rangers, the Los Angeles Angels with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, an Oakland athletic club under reconstruction, a Seattle Mariners team without Kyle Seager and defending World Series runners-up Houston Astros, the Rangers are set to face formidable opponents among familiar faces. Here are some of our picks for the must-see games of the 2022 season:

Season opener @ Blue Jays

Despite losing a few key players (Semien to the Rangers, pitcher Robbie Ray to the Mariners), the Blue Jays have been the darlings of preseason talk. They have a loaded offensive lineup with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette’s former astro George Springer and a pitching rotation anchored by Kevin Gausman and Hyun-jin Ryu. Vegas agrees: The Blue Jays are ranked second to win the World Series behind the Los Angeles Dodgers by DraftKings. With border issues caused by COVID resolved in 2021, the Blue Jays reclaimed their home ground at Rogers Center in Toronto instead of occupying the team’s minor league ground in Buffalo, thus a healthy Blue Jays team with a good home field advantage is likely to be a scary sight.

Home opener against the Rockies, April 11-12

Jon Gray could get the opportunity to pitch against his former team when the mile-tall club descends at Globe Life Field 604 feet above sea level. traded last year and eventually let Gray and shortstop Trevor Story go in free agency, they caused a stir in the offseason, acquiring third baseman Kris Bryant from the scorching San Francisco Giants of the year last. That alone should wake up the otherwise sleepy Rockies a bit. Hopefully they can handle the thicker air here.

Vs. Braves, April 29 – May 1

The defending World Series champions come to Arlington with an old nemesis in former Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, who replaces Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ cornerstone but perhaps the most Important returning to Arlington on this trip is third base coach Ron Washington, who served as Rangers manager for eight seasons, including two World Series appearances and four consecutive 90-win seasons. Washington remains the winningest manager in Rangers history and can finally wear his ring in the city he called home.

vs. Phillies, June 21-22

Two words: Bryce Harper. The 2021 National League MVP faces Rangers for the first time since Texas swept Harper’s former club the Washington Nationals in 2017. This will be Harper’s first appearance against the Rangers in a Phillies uniform , and the first Rangers v Phillies match in five years as well. . Despite betting .309 in the 2021 season, Harper’s efforts weren’t enough to secure his team a playoff berth, and the Phillies entered the offseason looking to bolster their roster, which led to the addition of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. With Phillies manager Joe Girardi in the hot seat and Harper seeking his second consecutive MVP award and third overall, Rangers fans are set for a five-year battle.

Vs. Nationals, June 24-26

As the Nationals continue to rebuild after the departures of Max Scherzer and Trey Turner, a key part of that rebuild is former Rangers hero Nelson Cruz, fresh off a stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz becomes the first full-time DH to join a National League team following MLB’s new labor deal that includes a universal designated hitter. The Nationals still have Juan Soto, who is a perennial MVP candidate, so while emotions may be building for Nelson’s return, the Rangers shouldn’t let their guard down for even one inning.

@ Mets, July 1-3

In a rare situation, the Rangers will only meet Queens’ best on the road to potentially take on the Mets’ formidable pitching battery led by Jacob deGrom and newly acquired madman Max Scherzer. DeGrom’s historic 2021 season, in which he sported an absurd 1.08 ERA, was cut short by elbow inflammation, and he is now set to miss the first four weeks of the regular season. If all goes well and deGrom picks up where he left off, Rangers will have one hell of a challenge at Citi Field. Oh, and did we mention Max Scherzer is a Met now?

Vs. Twins, July 8-10

The Minnesota club formerly anchored by Rangers hero Nelson Cruz returns to Arlington headlining a less-loved face in Carlos Correa. Former Astros superstar shortstop Correa signed a three-year, $105.3 million contract to become the highest-paid superstar shortstop player of the past year, edging out Corey Seager from about $3 million a year. Additionally, newly acquired Rangers receiver Mitch Garver will face his former club in a three-game series.

vs. Yankees, Oct. 3-5

Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re still the Yankees. The Rangers regular season ends with a three-day, four-game stand against the iconic Bronx baseball club which now sports a few former Rangers in wide receiver Jose Trevino, shortstop Isaiah Kiner-Falefa and outfielder Joey Gallo – all of whom would face their former club at home for the first time, so the series is bound to be an emotional end to the season. That being said, the Yankees still have two of the game’s best hitters in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, as well as ace pitcher Gerrit Cole, so the Rangers’ final home game of 2022 is bound to be a game made in heaven. baseball.

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