The Texas Rangers have had a nice turnaround from a dreadful 2-9 start, going 8-5 since to improve their overall record to 10-14, moving them out of last place in the American League West division.
The pitching staff has played a big role in the turnaround. Since the beginning of this 8-5 run, the pitching staff owns a 2.69 ERA, which is fifth in Major League Baseball. They also own baseball's best BABIP during that span (.228).
After a scorching start to the season, the offense has struggled with consistency. Specifically, the Rangers need more production from their outfielders. Adolis García has arguably been the most productive of the group, but his .675 OPS is far from ideal. Willie Calhoun, the team's primary DH against right-handed pitching, didn't make it to 50 at-bats before being optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.
As a whole, Texas outfielders own a 75 wRC+, which is 23rd in baseball. This isn't going to cut it.
The answer could come from within. At Round Rock, Leody Taveras has had a sensational start to his season. Through 22 games and 91 at-bats, the 23-year-old center fielder is slashing .374/.408/.626/1.034 with four home runs, 14 RBI and four stolen bases. It's a small sample size, but it's a significant improvement over his performance with the Express a season ago.
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Sep 12, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras (3) hits an RBI triple during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum.
Aug 30, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras (3) celebrates with coaches after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Globe Life Field.
Leody Taveras in spring training 2021.
The Rangers coaching staff, including newcomers Donnie Ecker and TIm Hyers, worked with Taveras this spring on making some adjustments at the plate. Among the changes, which entail both mental and mechanical adjustments, Taveras now stands taller and holds the bat lower in his stance than he had in years past.
Woodward saw the changes pay off during camp, but the club challenged Taveras to go to Triple A and stay consistent with these changes.
"He's going to play a long, long time if some of these things stick and he becomes a consistent performer," Woodward said on March 27. "He's going to knock the door down. It doesn't matter if he starts in Triple A for a week, two weeks or however long that takes for him to show, 'I'm the guy.' We all believe he will be."
With Taveras maintaining consistency in Triple A, he's getting closer and closer to a trip back to the big leagues. It's not a question of if, but when.
"I think Leody is going to be here soon," Woodward said on April 30. "I won't say how soon, but we are definitely keeping an eye on him. ... He'll be here at some point."