There’s not much to be said about the 2023 Texas Rangers that hasn’t already been repeated over and over. The club was the best in the game, period. Their 90 regular season wins ranked fifth in baseball, but they got hot at the right time, ultimately winning the World Series.
Now, the key is for them to follow it up with another deep run into next October.
Fortunately, the roster is looking largely the same as it did last season. Jordan Montgomery is still a free agent, but the offensive corps remains intact. Tyler Mahle, David Robertson and Kirby Yates were brought aboard to shore up the pitching staff.
Helping us to form expectations for the 2024 season is the ZiPS projection system. For those unfamiliar, a full breakdown of Dan Szymborski’s system can be found here.
ZiPS is banking on Wyatt Langford to make the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and play a key role. Notably, the expectation is that he’ll earn and keep a hold on a roster spot in the big leagues. Szymborski writes that if the promising prospect is able to touch the output ZiPS projects, it’ll make much more sense why Texas didn’t add any big bats this offseason.
Without giving anything more away, let’s dive into the projections. How will this Texas Rangers club follow up a championship-winning season?
ZiPS really likes the Rangers’ offense, and it’s easy to see why. Led by Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Adolis Garcia, this unit is dangerous. Pair them with the rookies coming up, and you’ve got yourself an annual contender for rings.
- All eyes on Langford – Entering his rookie year, Wyatt Langford’s got a ton of hype surrounding him. Projections for him vary across different outlets, but ZiPS loves him. He’s projected to hit 24 home runs with over 80 driven in to go along with a 118 wRC+. Roster Resource has him batting 8th on a daily basis as the Rangers’ designated hitter.
- Home runs, home runs and more home runs – The Rangers hit 233 home runs, tied for third in the league last year. ZiPS has every player in the lineup projected to top 15 home runs in 2024. Garcia’s 32 as well as Seager and Josh Jung’s 28 lead the way.
- Evan Carter is due for a huge season – The standout rookie is going to have his work cut out for him as he follows up his 23-game cameo from last year. He hit .306 with a 182 OPS+ in 75 plate appearances, even hitting .300 in 17 postseason games. He won’t maintain those ridiculous numbers, but ZiPS does not foresee serious regression across a full season of games. In fact, Carter is projected to hit 15 homers with 79 driven in, 79 runs scored, 19 stolen bases and a 113 wRC+. Carter and Langford represent two legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates for the Rangers.
- Ezequiel Duran is a bit of a question mark – One of the more obvious trade candidates on the Rangers, Duran hit well last season but is without a position entering 2024. ZiPS sees just a 90 wRC+ with a strikeout rate of almost 27%. His value is still high from last year’s performance, so maybe now is the time to try and move him for a starting pitcher.
While the offense is deadly, the pitching staff — at least the group that will start the season — could use some work. Jacob deGrom, Mahle and Max Scherzer are all going to open the year on the long-term injured list. How will the rest of the rotation fare until they return?
- The entire Rangers rotation is expected to underperform – Not that they’ll all be below-average starters, but the numbers aren’t pretty. Each of Jon Gray, Nathan Eovaldi, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford are projected to post ERAs north of 4.00.
- Dangerous deGrom will provide a second-half boost – Unsurprisingly, ZiPS thinks deGrom is going to make one hell of a comeback. In 12 starts, he’s projected to post an ERA of 2.89 while striking out over 13 batters per nine innings. That’ll play.
- Max Scherzer will come back down to earth but will still excel – Another pitcher expected to miss time, Scherzer is projected to make 24 starts. The Hall of Fame-bound hurler has struck out over 10 batters per nine every year since 2012, but ZiPS thinks 2024 will see him fall just short of that number. However, a 3.85 ERA from a 39-year-old is nothing to scoff at.
ZiPS loves left-hander Brock Burke, who has looked both excellent and so-so over the past few years. He is in line for more high-leverage innings, per Szymborski, a change that he should take to nicely.
- The year of Brock Burke – The 27-year-old projects to make 52 appearances out of the Rangers’ bullpen. In those outings, he’s expected to post a 3.69 ERA while seeing a spike in both strikeouts and walks compared to his career norms.
- Josh Sborz will get a boost in playing time – One of the more underrated relievers out of the Rangers’ pen, Sborz is best known as the final pitcher used in the 2023 World Series. The right-hander, like Burke, is also projected to see many more high-leverage innings in 2024. According to ZiPS, Sborz is tabbed to post a 4.00 ERA in 61 outings.
- José Leclerc will take a huge step back – Projected to be the primary closer, Leclerc is headed for some regression. After posting a 2.68 ERA with 4 saves in 57 outings last year, ZiPS has him crashing back down to earth. In 57 games, he projects to earn 19 saves while seeing his ERA climb all the way to 4.26, which is not a typical closer’s ERA.
The Texas Rangers are going to compete for another World Series ring in 2024. ZiPS projections are so high on the offense that the pitching staff can fake it until Scherzer and deGrom return to action. A reunion with Montgomery would address uncertainties in the rotation, which should top the team’s priority list for the remainder of the offseason.