Welcome to 2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Can the Rangers Offense Stay This Hot?
On Monday night, the Texas Rangers polished off their fourth win in a row and their eighth win in the last ten games. But there was something different about this one. The game against the St. Louis Cardinals finished in a 4-3 walk-off win for Texas after a walk and two singles brought in the winning run. Why was this win so unusual? Frankly, because the game was so close. They won their previous three games by a combined score of 30-9, which is more indicative of the type of offense they have produced and the blowouts they have laid on their opponents.
With this elite offense through the first three months, it has produced some tremendous results for fantasy baseball. But what can we expect over the final two-thirds of the season? Can the Rangers possibly keep this up as we move into the dog days of summer? And can Texas prove to be one of the best offenses of this entire century?
2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Can the Rangers Offense Stay Hot?
The Texas Rangers Have One of the Best Starts to a Season Ever
It's not only just the last few games where the Rangers have been blowing out their opponents. Over the course of the 2023 season, the Rangers are +152 in run differential heading into Tuesday's games. That number is 30 runs better than the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. It's almost 90 runs better than the third-place Atlanta Braves.
Their 376 runs and .345 on-base percentage through the team's first 58 games is almost unprecedented. According to Baseball Reference, the 2001 Colorado Rockies are the only other team this century to match both of those numbers. And only two teams since 1950 (the 1999 Cleveland Indians being the other) have accomplished both of those feats. Before 1950, you are talking about all-time teams like the 1931, 1932, and 1936 Yankees and the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates that have reached this feat.
And the Rangers are equally impressive at home and on the road in 2023. They are +79 in home run differential and +73 in road run differential. Compare that to teams like the Rays (+73 home, +49 road) and the Braves (-1 home, +64 away) and you will see the equal opportunity demolition of their opponents.
But the most surprising thing about the entire offensive boom is that the entire Rangers' lineup seems to be getting in on the act.
The Rangers' Offense is Coming From the Entire Lineup
The Rangers and their fans were both supremely disappointed in 2022 when their prized offseason additions started slowly. Both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager struggled in the first half of their debut seasons in Arlington, leading to a lackluster season from Texas. But this season, both have exploded out of a rocket to begin the year.
Semien is hitting .302 with a .371 OBP, both career highs to this point. He has 54 runs in 58 games and is on pace to sail past 160 runs scored this season. Seager is slashing .349/.405/.623 which would all be career highs if he kept up that production. But it's not just those two who are driving the offensive train. The Rangers are getting production up and down the lineup.
ESPN's Player Rater over the last 30 days lists seven Rangers in the top 70 hitters. Six batters fall within the top 75 hitters in Yahoo rankings over the past month. That doesn't even include catcher Jonah Heim who has put up a .287 average with a homer and 23 RBI in that span or Ezequiel Duran who is batting .306 with four homers over the last month.
Perhaps their hottest hitter over the last month has been rookie Josh Jung. He is hitting .324 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 22 runs.
With so many players hitting at the top of their game, can the team possibly expect to keep up this pace? It's possible, but the under-the-hood metrics say it's unlikely.
What to Expect From the Texas Rangers for the Rest of 2023?
The first things that jump out in the team's offensive rankings are the Rangers' oversized batting average and batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Their .278 team average is 12 points higher than the second team (Tampa Bay). It would be the highest the league has seen since the 2017 Houston Astros (.282) who may or may not have had some trash-can-induced assistance with their hitting.
The Rangers' team BABIP is a robust .332 as well. That is 10 points higher than both Colorado and Cincinnati who play in the best hitters' parks. Right now the league average BABIP is .297, or well below what the Rangers are putting up through more than two months.
The park teams play in typically does play a role in how the offense performs, and that's another red mark in the ledger for the Rangers. Their home park (Globe Life Field) has proved to be exactly average for offense since it opened. According to Baseball Savant, the park is a 100 for offensive park factor (where 100 is average), a 100 for runs, and a 105 for home runs.
That's not to say that the Texas offense will completely fall off a cliff during the hot Texas summer but we should temper expectations on many of the Rangers' batters moving forward. Players like Nathanial Lowe (.337 BABIP) and Corey Seager (.373 BABIP) are the biggest offenders.
Our rest of season rankings produced by Keith Lott show a realistic picture of where we can expect the offense to go. He ranks just four Rangers batters in the top 100 for the rest of the season (Semien, Seager, Garcia, and Lowe) while some of the overachievers begin to fall off. This has been a tremendous run for the Texas Rangers' offense, but some of these batters may be getting close to being bucked off the BABIP horse in the weeks to come.
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