Since April 29th things have been trending in an upward direction for the Texas Rangers. The club has a 7-4 record since that point, and only sit 7 games out of first place in the AL West.
However, they haven’t gotten there in the way that you would expect. The stars haven’t exactly stepped up to the plate, Marcus Semien, Adolis Garcia, and, Corey Seager, are all hitting below .250
Instead, it has been a string of pleasant surprises that has propelled the Rangers to this point. Here are the three biggest surprises for the Rangers in 2022!
#1 Bench Production – In 2022 the Rangers have gotten bench production early and often. The Rangers have 11 pinch-hit hits, 3 pinch-hit home runs, and 9 pinch-hit RBIs, All of those statistics rank at or near the top of Major League Baseball.
Manager Chis Woodward has stuck to the plan of platooning in the 2022 season. This managerial strategy leads to a lot of pinch-hit opportunities, once the opposing team changes to an opposite arm pitcher. Despite all of the heat that Woody receives from some fans, he tends to press the right buttons in these situations.
#2 Bullpen Success – After the first week of the season which included a 7-run-blown lead to the Blue Jays on Opening Day, many Rangers fans questioned the legitimacy of the Texas bullpen. The Rangers have five relievers with an ERA below three, and three below one. Not only have the Rangers gotten good relief from the pen, but they’ve also gotten it late in ball games in clutch situations.
The Rangers have seemed to get shut down pitching from arms that you would not expect.
Matt Moore has completely reinvented his career and has become one of the most reliable arms in the pen. Morre has appeared in nine games and has an ERA of 2.45
Brock Burke is another example of a former starter who is finding his footing coming in late in games. In his first taste of big-league action since 2019, Burke has appeared in nine games and has an ERA of 1.62. Burke looks as healthy as ever and has been attacking hitters and getting outs while providing multiple inning flexibility.
The Rangers pen has also been lights out in late-game situations.
Dennis Santana has proven to be able to come in and strand runners on base in key situations. In-game two of the Mothers Day doubleheader against the Yankees, Santana came in with runners on base and retired Aaron Judge to preserve a 4-2 lead. That type of clutch pitching has gotten Santana off to a solid start to the 2022 season.
Closer Joe Barlow has also been a staple for the Rangers late in games. Barlow has an ERA of 1.74, with five saves, and zero blown saves. Barlow has provided consistency in the closer role for Texas which they have not had in the past few seasons.
#3 Unlikely Heroes – Throughout this season it hasn’t exactly been Marcus Semien and Corey Seager carrying the load for the offense. Marcus Semien is still hitting below the Mendoza line and Corey Seager is just now starting to heat up. Once again it has been a string of unlikely heroes that have propelled the offense
Backup catcher Jonah Heim has been one of the best offensive players this season. Heim is batting at an astronomical .356 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs.
Jonah is not the only unexpected hero of the lineup. Guys like Brad Miller, Eli White, and Andy Ibanez have all picked up the offensive workload and provided clutch play.
Overall this season has not started to the Rangers liking but they are starting to show flashes. The pitching is starting to come around and prove themselves, and the offense can hold its own. This Rangers team is starting to win different types of games and is staying afloat in the AL West.