It’s safe to say that the 2022 season did not go as planned for the Texas Rangers as they finished 68-94, missing the playoffs for the 6th straight season. However, in 2022 we saw some Rangers have breakout years and emerge as key pieces of the club’s future.
When Martin Perez signed a 1-year 4 million dollar contract to rejoin the Rangers last offseason no one expected him to have a 2022 campaign quite as he did. Perez went 12-8 with a .289 ERA and was named to the American League All-Star Team in July. That effort resulted in Perez being offered the qualifying offer and being awarded a spot in the Rangers rotation in 2023 as the team looks ready to compete for the first time in years.
Following Nathaniel Lowe’s 2021 season where he hit 18 home runs and 72 RBIs, Rangers fans were left questioning whether or not the left-handed hitting first baseman could follow that with a successful 2022 campaign. Lowe was able to do that and some as he went on to bat a team-leading .302 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs to go with it.
Now that the Rangers have finally put losing behind them and are ready to compete, the question is who will be this year’s breakout star. Today we’re gonna look at 5 breakout candidates for the Rangers in 2023.
1.Jon Gray – To say that I’m a huge believer in Jon Gray this season would probably be an understatement. Last year when Gray was healthy he was lights on, he finished at 7-7 with a 3.96 ERA. Gray’s stuff is second to none, his slider which he uses 36.1% of the time, is one of the best in the league. If Gray can stay healthy, the sky’s the limit for him in 2023.
2. Josh Jung – When the Rangers called up Josh Jung on September 9th of this season, instantly the spotlight was shined on the former Texas Tech Red Raider. Jung didn’t disappoint as he would go on to homer in his first big league game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Due to the date, he was called up Jung only got 98 ABs in the big leagues last year but 2023 will be different. With Jung likely to be the Opening Day 3rd baseman, a breakout season could be on the horizon.
3. Andrew Heaney – When Rangers GM Chris Young went out and signed Andrew Heaney to a 2-year 25 million dollar deal on December 6th, one of the more underrated signings this offseason was completed. Heaney’s advanced stats are some of the best in baseball. The tall lefty ranks higher than the 95th percentile in Whiff%, K%, and chase rate. Heaney’s ERA with the Dodgers last season with 3.10 in his bounceback 2022 season. Now that he’s found a home here in Texas, I think Heaney could be poised for a breakout season coming out of the number-five spot in the rotation.
4. Mitch Garver – When the Rangers acquired Mitch Garver from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and two prospects they certainly didn’t expect him to only play 54 games. Earlier this week Rangers GM Chris Young said that Garver would be ready to catch when Spring Training begins on February 15th. Graver won’t be catching every single day, in fact, Jonah Heim will probably get the bulk of the time behind the plate in 2023. However, with regular ABs coming at both catchers and DH, Garver could break out this upcoming season.
5. Jonathan Hernandez – I think that most people who follow the Rangers know that Jonathan Hernandez has closer type stuff but can he actually break out as the closer? After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2022, Hernandez posted a 2.97 ERA in 29 games. If I were Bruce Bochy, I’d give Hernandez the first nod at being the 9th inning guy but even if that’s not the case Hernandez has the potential to be a lights out late inning reliever.