2017 Fantasy Season Recap: Texas Rangers
As recently as mid-August, there was hope that the Texas Rangers could emerge from the huddled mass of mediocre struggling to separate themselves in the American League wild card race. After climbing to a .500 record for the first time since the All Star break, the Rangers then went 18-24 down the remainder of the season, quickly ending any dreams of playoff baseball.
The team will bring back manager Jeff Banister for another season, and expect him to get the Rangers back to the postseason. Banister has a 261-225 record over three seasons in his first managerial job. The Rangers were AL West champions his first two seasons but missed the playoffs this year with a 78-84 record, though they weren’t eliminated from wild card contention until the 157th game.
The big question is what will Banister be working with next season.
The team wants to bring back right handed pitcher Andrew Cashner, who had the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher on the team last year. Cashner finished the 2017 campaign with a solid 3.40 ERA, although fantasy owners should be ready for some regression in 2018 given his 4.65 FIP. His fantasy value heading into next season will also vary depending on where he lands in free agency. He doesn’t strike out hitters anymore, by design, but competes with a power sinker. He’ll get paid this off-season.
A career year for shortstop Elvis Andrus has him in a position once thought unthinkable — opting out of his eight-year contract after next season, meaning he could be trade bait for the team between now and next year’s trade deadline. He was the Rangers’ best player from Opening Day to the finale. His .297 batting average was the best on the team, and he ranked seventh in the American League in runs (100) and sixth in stolen bases (25).
Young third baseman Joey Gallo was one of the bright spots for Texas this year, even though he finished the season with a .209 batting average. So why the optimism? How about the fact that he hit 41 homers, finished 8th in the American League in slugging percentage (.537) and played three positions. He’s a star in the making.
And of course, it looks like 2018 will be the swansong season for third baseman Adrian Beltre. When he played, he was producing like an MVP on a bum calf and, later, a bum hamstring. Still, Beltre got his 3,000th hit with a double July 30 at home against Baltimore Orioles. The third baseman has 3,035 career hits, but at 38 years old, he’s no longer the same player.
In terms of the Rangers much-maligned relief pitching staff, Jake Diekman pitched only the final month, and was very good. He went through medical hell for six months to make his life and career better. Diekman was solid in his other six outings since returning from the 60-day disabled list (no runs, no hits, eight strikeouts over 6.7 innings). Given his solid performance, look for the Rangers to continue to use the big southpaw in high-leverage situations in the future. The inspirational left-hander could very well be the Rangers’ closer in 2018.