ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The Texas Rangers are currently fighting off the Houston Astros for last place in the AL West. The surging Athletics are a staggering 18 games ahead. And the Wild Card — largely unattainable.
But believe it or not, a number of things have gone WELL for the Rangers in 2014.
Here’s a look at 10 positive items:
1. The Solid Shin-Soo Choo
No, his .250 BA isn’t overwhelming. And it’s hard to justify his less-than-stellar June (.179 BA, .278 OBP). But Choo has continued to do what he does best: get on base. His .373 OBP is bested only by Adrian Beltre among Rangers regulars.
You can question his $14 million price tag this season, but Choo is a productive part of the lineup. You might as well embrace that.
2. The Emergence of Rougned Odor
Injuries forced the Rangers to accelerate the development of Odor, who at 20 years of age, is the youngest player in MLB.
A superstar? Not yet. But Odor has shown surprising pop at the plate and a nice glove.
If Odor can continue to develop into a productive player this season (and Profar recovers), the Rangers have increased flexibility to move shortstop Elvis Andrus — IF the right deal comes along.
3. The 2014 A’s Are All In.
It’s bad for now, and good for the future — right?
After sending Michael Choice to Texas last offseason, Oakland traded Addison Russell (No. 5 prospect in Baseball America’s midseason Top 50) and other prospects to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Samardzija will become a free agent after the 2015 season; Hammel is on a one-year deal.
If the Rangers have written off the 2014 season, who cares if Oakland strengthens its club this season? Does it even matter if they go on to win the World Series?
Though it’s wishful thinking, perhaps the proud occupants of O.co Coliseum surrendered a perennial superstar simply for rental pieces…
4. Darvish is Still a Beast — and That’s a Positive
You can argue that his efforts are futile. You can even argue that they are downright damaging.
Yes, if Darvish wins the Cy Young in the next three seasons, he can opt out of the final season of his contract.
But if Darvish were struggling this season, would we not be panicking? Texas’ ace is having arguably the greatest season of his career, even after opening the season on the DL with neck pain.
He’s healthy; he’s dominating; he’s still an ace. That’s a good thing.
5. Is Colby Lewis Rebounding?
The season has been nothing short of disastrous for Colby Lewis, who failed to collect a quality start in his first 13.
But the 34-year-old has shown improvement in his last two outings — both quality starts. Lewis, who had offseason hip surgery, signed a manageable minor league contract with an invitiation to spring training prior to the season.
If he shows steady improvement and stays healthy, Texas could look to bring the veteran back on a similar contract to compete for a back-of-the rotation spot in 2015.
6. The Growing Legend of Joey Gallo
Though Gallo likely won’t sniff Arlington until 2015, his power has grabbed headlines and created a glimmer of hope among Rangers fans.
Between High-A Myrtle Beach and AA-Frisco, Gallo has hit 31 homeruns with a .441 OBP. Ten of those have come at AA Frisco — in just 25 games.
Could Gallo be the next Justin Smoak? Sure. But if we’re looking for things to celebrate this season, look no further than Frisco.
7. Alex Rios & His Rising Trade Value
Maybe the Rangers will elect to hang on to Rios and exercise his $13.5 million option for 2015. Maybe they trade him.
Either way, Rios has enjoyed a productive 2014 season, batting .305 with 39 RBIs, while stealing 14 bags.
If Texas can’t compete, why not sell? Rios will top the list of available bats at the trade deadline.
8. Standout Performances in the Bullpen
As a whole, the Texas bullpen has been poor (4.46 ERA is 28th in MLB), with a few exceptions.
Joakim Soria has been a bright spot for the club, collecting 16 saves with a 2.83 ERA (.80 WHIP). His club-friendly $7 million team option for 2015 only adds to his value.
For a second consecutive season, Jason Frasor has been solid, appearing in 38 games while maintaining a 2.86 ERA. Look for he — and fellow reliever Neal Cotts — to garner attention around the deadline.
9. Adrian Beltre is Still Among the Best
Though he often runs like a wounded beast, Beltre is an American League All Star yet again at the age of 35.
His .334 average is second in the AL. He leads Rangers hitters in HR (12), RBI (48), OBP (.380) and WAR (3.12).
He’s still very, very good and is under team control through 2016.
10. Top of the Draft?
No one is suggesting that Texas will finish the season with the worst record in baseball, but the No. 1 overall pick is not entirely out of the question. Three teams currently have worse winning percentages than Texas (.427): Houston (.407), Colorado (.411) and Arizona (.418).
Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and David Price — Four prospects chosen first overall in the past 8 drafts.
Is it worth considering… and possibly rooting for?
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