Texas Rangers June 2022 recap: The batting order conundrum and more
As we approach the middle of the season and make slow progress on the All-Star break, the Texas Rangers are frustratingly close to .500, sitting 36-38 after dropping the final game of a three-game series against the Kansas Royals. City which would have put them at .500 (more on that later).
The Rangers went 12-14 in June, starting the month by splitting a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays that began in May, then giving up two of three at home to the Seattle Mariners, giving up two of three on the road in Cleveland against the Guardians, taking two of three in Chicago against the White Sox, losing two of three at home against the Astros, splitting a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, sweeping two games against the Phillies at home, dropping two of three to the Washington Nationals later in that same homestand and winning two of three to the Royals in Kansas City.
Notice a pattern? The Rangers have won three games in a row only once in June: the last two games against the White Sox until the first game against the Astros on June 13. Given the extraordinarily poor seasons of the Tigers, Nationals and Royals, the fact that the Rangers couldn’t sweep those three teams and even lost two games to the Tigers and Royals is a source of concern in Arlington. The fact that the Rangers are in such a good position (just two games under .500) compared to this time last year (17 games under .500) is cause for celebration, but the Rangers are giving up games that shouldn’t not be let down by a team of this caliber.
The player who improved the most in June was unsurprisingly Adolis Garcia, who hit .314 with a .929 OPS with seven homers. Those seven homers were matched only by Nathaniel Lowe (beating .307 with an OPS of .910, and why don’t we talk about him more?) and Marcus Semien (beating .287 with an OPS of .849). Leody Taveras, called triple-A, also had a stellar major league experience, batting .289 in his 15 games after losing outfielder Eli White to a broken wrist. Lowe continues to be the dark horse of the team, a constant presence whose All-Star recognition would be much higher if not for the circus that the first base All-Star position is likely to become (something about this kid in Toronto).
Jonah Heim continues his status as one of baseball’s best offensive and defensive receivers, hitting .236 in the month of June with four home runs, bringing his season total to 10, making him the AL’s tied leader in home runs by a catcher (with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Alejandro Kirk), not to mention his excellent pitch-framing skills, consistently atop all MLB rankings. However, given the offensive and defensive strengths of Kirk and (former Ranger) Yankee Jose Trevino, the race for the starting All-Star receiver is bound to be tight. As has been the theme of the month, the vote has its impact.
Sunday’s disastrous game against the Nationals turned competitive in the ninth inning thanks to Heim’s three RBIs and is a testament to the Buffalo Bomber’s value to the Texas Rangers.
One thing that stood out in terms of team management was the Rangers’ upside-down batting order. Lately, the No. 4 cleanup spot went to Kole Calhoun, whose stellar May made him a shoo-in to be the Rangers’ anchor. However, considering Calhoun has only hit one home run while averaging .198 for the month of June, that’s a little odd considering Lowe’s stellar offensive consistency.
Why wouldn’t the person who hit seven home runs get the cleanup spot? Why not put Heim or Semien there recently? Manager Chris Woodward recently said he wants to have two right-handed hitters on either side of southpaw Calhoun, but trading him with southpaw Lowe or hitter Heim seems like a more prudent move.
In the June 27 game at Kansas City, a game that fell on Heim’s (and Woodward’s) birthday, Heim was given the cleanup spot and went 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Lowe ( relegated to 7th place) went 2-for-3 with two walks in what was ultimately a 10-4 blowout. Calhoun, at No. 5, went 2 for 4 with a walk on one of his best nights in June, and was then reinstated at No. 4. I’m not a professional baseball coach, but as the saying goes, “play the hot bat.”
As of this writing, the Rangers are en route to Queens for a weekend against the fierce New York Mets, who despite the absence of monstrous ace pitchers Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, sit atop from the NL East and try not to worry about the Freddie Freeman-less Atlanta Braves clearly trying to prove a point.
Regardless of whether Scherzer returns this weekend, Rangers are going to have to fire on all cylinders. And if they do, it would certainly be nice if they could also do it against teams under .500. It seems like every time the Rangers are within .500 batting distance, they lose two games against a team that is good less than .500 like the Tigers or the Nationals. That’s what we want for our birthdays, Santa: for the Rangers to go over .500. That, and for Jonah Heim to be an All-Star.