It has been 12 years since Texas has been to the WS. It was Bruce Bochy’s SF Giants who bested Texas 4 games to 1 in their very first visit to the Fall Classic in 2010. Ron Washington was the manager of the Rangers. Texas had some pretty good bats in 2010: Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, and Vlad Guerrero. The top 2 pitchers were CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis.
In 2011, most of the Rangers core was back with the exception of Vlad Guerrero. Vlad signed a FA deal with Baltimore, but Texas signed a FA of their own…Adrián Beltré. In addition, Derek Holland had a breakout season to build up the rotation. They won 96 games in 2011, 2nd only to NYY’s 97. They beat Tampa Bay in the ALDS and Justin Verlander’s Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
They faced St. Louis in the WS and if it were not for the heroics of David Freese, they might have won their 1st WS in 2011. In Game 6, 9th inning down 2 runs, with a 2 runners on, 2 outs, and 2 strikes, David Freese hit a 2 run triple to tie the score. Both teams scored a pair in the 10th. The leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 11th, David Freese, hit a walk off HR to push it to Game 7 where RHSP Chris Carpenter took over for the Cardinals, and Texas lost 6-2 in Game 7.
Texas made the playoffs three out of the next five years, but could not win a series. Following the 2016 season, Texas went into a tailspin:
- 2017 – 78-84
- 2018 – 67-95
- 2019 – 78-84
- 2020 – 22-38
- 2021 – 60-102
- 2022 – 68-94
Chris Young (AKA CY), was named Executive VP, General Manager. The team lost 102 games in 2021, and Texas’ Owners (Ray Davis and Bob Simpson) told CY to go get players. They spent $500MM on 2 SS, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. They spent another $56MM for RHSP Jon Gray.
CY also signed Donnie Ecker as the bench coach and Offensive Coordinator.
They did not get the results they were hoping for. So CY was told to go get pitching. For 2023, Texas signed Jacob deGrom for 5 years $185MM, Nathan Eovaldi for 2 years $34MM, Andrew Heaney for 2 years $25MM, and gave Martin Perez a QO and he accepted.
More importantly, CY flew to Nashville to meet with the retired Bruce Bochy and convinced him to take the Texas managerial job.
Texas lost deGrom very early to TJ surgery. In spite of that, Texas got out to a big start and were up by 6.0 games on June 28. Their offense took off under Ecker. Their offense was so good that Texas had 4 starters named to the 2023 All Star Game… Corey Seager (SS), Marcus Semien (2B), Jonah Heim (C), and rookie Josh Jung (3B). Adolis Garcia was named a starter replacing injured players. 5 All Star starters. This is a good team, but will they have enough pitching?
CY was not done. At the deadline, Texas traded for Max Scherzer that cost them elite OF prospect Luisangel Acuña (NYM #1 prospect, #38 overall), They also traded for LHSP Jordan Montgomery and that cost was MLB reliever John King, and two non elite prospects, infielder Thomas Saggese and RHP Tekoah Roby. While the Dodgers were spending a lot of time trying to acquire Nolan Arenado and Eduardo Rodriguez, Texas stepped in and traded for Montgomery. While AF traded for Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Ryan Yarbrough7, and Amed Rosario, CY went big and acquired Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. Scherzer was hurt near the end of the season, but came back for the ALCS. He improved a great deal from Game 3 to Game 7, and he should help Texas in the WS.
They fell out of the lead on August 27. The reclaimed the AL West lead on September 22. They were 2.5 games ahead of Texas before entering a four game series with Seattle to end the season. They lost 3 out of 4 to Seattle at the same time as Houston was beating Arizona 3 straight to win the AL West thanks to their 9-4 record against Texas in 2023.
Texas entered the playoffs with one of the best playoffs manager of all time. Bochy was the manager for two teams that reached the WS (Padres and Giants), winning three with San Francisco. Texas has a good analytics department, but Bochy manages with his eyes.
They dispatched Tampa Bay 2 games to 0 in the Wild Card series to reach the ALDS. They followed that up with a sweep of the 101 win Baltimore Orioles to play divisional foe Houston.
Texas won the 1st two games in Houston and lost the next three in Arlington. The third one (Game 5) was a heartbreaker. Up 4-2 in the 9th with José Leclerc trying to close, Houston got the first two runners on and the current Mr. October, Jose Altuve, hit a 3-run HR and a 5-4 lead.
The ALCS went back to Houston. After the loss, Texas certainly could have folded. Instead they scored 20 runs thanks largely to Adolis Garcia (ALCS MVP). Garcia hit 3 HRs and plated 9 RBIs in the final 2 games. Bochy pulled his MadBum relief act with Jordan Montgomery relieving Max Scherzer in the 3rd. Montgomery pitched through the 5th without allowing a run. Texas needed help with a dilapidated bullpen, and Montgomery delivered.
Bruce Bochy is now going to be managing his third different team in the WS. He is the first MLB manager to accomplish that feat. A couple of years ago (before Roberts’ latest contract), to some I had the unmitigated gall to say that I was hoping the Dodgers would sign Bruce Bochy. How dare I? A Giants manager? He was nothing compared to Dave Roberts. Didn’t I realize that Doc had the best winning percentage of any MLB manager. Bochy? He was a below .500 manager. Yeah, but he had been to the WS four times and won 3 of them, obviously with inferior teams, including the 2014 Giants team.
SF dispatched Bochy for Gabe Kapler because it was believed that Kapler was more analytical. Bochy would have been happy staying in retirement waiting for his HOF induction.
Instead he is going back to the WS. We do not yet know who the Rangers will be facing, as Philadelphia and Arizona are tied up 3 games each. Philadelphia will be pitching LHSP Ranger Suarez while Arizona will be starting their rookie SP Brandon Pfaadt. Pfaadt has been the surprise pitcher throughout their NLDS and NLCS. Can he do it in a Game 7?
I know we will get into it in more detail later during the Hot Stove League, but I am convinced that it is better than a 50-50 chance that Clayton Kershaw will join his friend Chris Young in Texas next year.