I have been slacking in my writing duties due to the beginning of the school year and my last second life change of becoming an assistant football coach (the kids who swing the tackling dummies at the RBs suddenly have excellent form, focused hips, and drive their targets opposite field). With that said, here are my recent Rangers observations in no particular order:
Rougned Odor might be 5'10", 190, but he is a grown-ass man. So much of the recent upturn in the Rangers' season is due to his return from a brief stint in AAA and the hustle, effort, and confidence that he brings to the field every single game. I would put a team of 9 Roogies on the field if it were possible (fortunately, we have two of them). He is quickly becoming my favorite player, with everything from his ABs, to his baserunning, to turning double plays becoming can't miss TV. Since his return from the minors, Odor has a swing and miss rate of 6.6%, which explains the meteoric rise in his batting average (could you imagine what life would be like if Hamilton sported that same rate?).
Derek Holland is an star on and off of the field. It is hard to not root for a guy who does so much good off of the field. Yes, I understand that people have become frustrated with Holland's frequent injuries, but do you know who is the most frustrated? Derek Holland. The man wants to compete, he loves his team, he loves his teammates, and he loves the Dallas area. I expect big things for him over the next few months; his fresh arm can be a difference maker down the stretch. When Holland is healthy, he is a #2 starter, and it truly seems like he is much more snake-bitten than injury prone (think of Matthew Stafford's bad luck).
Delino DeShields is second on my rookie of the year ballot. Carlos Correa is the clear runaway here, but the case has been made that DeShields is second, and I strongly agree. He has become on offense what we all hoped Leonys would become, and he matured into that role almost immediately. Sure, he is not the defender and does not have the arm of Martin, but he has such mature, patient at bats and has become a pest that distracts opposing pitchers, increasing the chances that mistakes are made against Beltre and Fielder. The man is making things go, with an oWAR of 1.8.
Good Elvis is back in the building (at least with the bat). I honestly don't know what has caused the sudden resurgence of Elvis Andrus on offense, but I love it. (I am indirectly crediting trading him away in my fantasy league. You're welcome, Rangers fans). Andrus suddenly has a confidence at the plate that has been missing for two years, and with this poise, he is being selective and attacking the correct pitches.
Cole Hamels will be fine. Stop looking for things to complain about and reasons to publicly shame JD. He is a workhorse ace and his role will be huge this season and for years to come.
Josh Hamilton cannot stay healthy and no one should be surprised. Josh couldn't stay on the field five years ago, so it should be expected that he struggles to stay on the field now. That's ok though. If you think about it as the Rangers paying him for the time he is on the field and the Angels paying for the time he can't play, it is still a win. Plus it seems that he has added something to this team in regard to team morale (which honestly surprises me, I am a Hamilton fan, but I kind of feel like he would always just be the annoying kid who tries to hard to fit in).
Choo sucks less. That's really about it. He will never reach the levels that we hoped to find when he signed his deal, but at least he is playing above replacement level, and we should all hope he keeps that up.
Speaking of things sucking less; your 2015 Rangers bullpen! No, they are still not a force to be reckoned with, but at least I do not get the immediate feeling of impending doom when they enter the game.
Football is not baseball. I signed up to coach football kind of last minute due to the resignation of another coach, so much of the time I would be using to post here is now taken by football practice and grading papers. As I get accustomed to the schedule change, hopefully I will contribute more and we can discuss all things Rangers as they continue their stunning playoff push.
Four games with Detroit starting today. Win the series.