Sports

Texas Rangers June 2022 Recap: The Batting Order Conundrum and More

Texas Ranger Jonah Heim with Adolis Garcia, No. 53.
Texas Ranger Jonah Heim with Adolis Garcia, No. 53. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
As we approach the midpoint of the season and slowly creep up on the All-Star break, the Texas Rangers are frustratingly close to .500,  sitting at 36-38 after dropping the final game of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals 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 started in May, then dropping two out of three at home against the Seattle Mariners, dropping two out of three on the road in Cleveland against the Guardians, taking two out of three in Chicago against the White Sox, losing two out 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 out of three against the Washington Nationals later in that same homestand and winning two out of three against the Royals in Kansas City.

Notice a pattern? The Rangers only won three games in a row once in June: the last two games against the White Sox into the first game against the Astros on June 13. Given the extraordinarily middling seasons by the Tigers, Nationals, and Royals, the fact that the Rangers could not sweep those three teams and even lost two games against the Tigers and Royals is some cause for worry in Arlington. The fact that the Rangers are in such a good spot (only two games under .500) as opposed to this time last year (17 games under .500) is cause for some celebration, but the Rangers are dropping games that should not be dropped by a team of this caliber.

The player to step up the most in the month of June has unsurprisingly been Adolis Garcia, who batted .314 with an OPS of .929 along with seven home runs. Those seven home runs have been equaled only by Nathaniel Lowe (batting .307 with an OPS of .910, and why aren’t we talking about him more?) and Marcus Semien (batting .287 with an OPS of .849). Triple-A call-up Leody Taveras has also had a stellar major league experience, batting .289 in his 15 games played after the loss of outfielder Eli White to a fractured wrist. Lowe continues to be the team’s dark horse, a consistent slugging 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 that kid in Toronto).

Jonah Heim continues his status of one of baseball’s best offensive and defensive catchers, hitting .236 in the month of June with four home runs, bringing his season total to 10, making him the tied AL leader in home runs by a catcher (with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Alejandro Kirk), not to mention his stellar pitch-framing skills consistently at the top of all MLB leaderboards. However, given the offensive and defensive strengths of Kirk and (former Ranger) Yankee Jose Trevino, the race for All-Star starting catcher is bound to be a close one. As has been the theme of the month, voting has its impact.

The catastrophic Sunday game against the Nationals became 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 has stuck out in terms of team management has been the Rangers' topsy-turvy batting order. As of late, the No. 4 cleanup spot has been given to Kole Calhoun, whose stellar May made him a shoo-in to be the Rangers’ slugging anchor. However, given that Calhoun has only hit one home run with a .198 average for the month of June, it is a little strange given Lowe’s stellar offensive consistency.

Why would the person who has hit seven home runs not be given the cleanup spot? Why not put Heim or Semien in that spot as of late? Manager Chris Woodward recently said that he wanted to have two right-handed batters on either side of lefty Calhoun, but swapping him with the lefty Lowe or the switch-hitting Heim seems like a more prudent move.

During the June 27 game in Kansas City, a game that fell on Heim (and Woodward’s) birthday, Heim was given the cleanup spot and went 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Lowe (relegated to the 7 spot) went 2-for-3 with two walks in what was eventually a 10-4 blowout. Calhoun, in the 5 spot, went 2-for-4 with a walk in one of his best nights of June, and was subsequently reinstated into the 4 spot. I’m not a professional baseball manager, but as the saying goes: “play the hot bat.”

At the time of writing, the Rangers are en route to Queens for a weekend stint against the ferocious New York Mets, who despite missing monstrous ace pitchers Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, are sitting mighty atop the NL East and trying not to worry about the Freddie Freeman-less Atlanta Braves who are clearly trying to prove a point.

Regardless of whether Scherzer returns this weekend, the Rangers are going to have to fire on all cylinders. And if they do, it would certainly be nice if they could do that against teams under .500 as well. It seems like every time the Rangers are within striking distance of .500, they drop two games against a team that is well under .500 like the Tigers or Nationals. That’s what we want for our birthdays, Santa: for the Rangers to get above .500. That, and for Jonah Heim to be an All-Star.
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Vincent Arrieta
Contact: Vincent Arrieta