The Texas Rangers are World Series champions, dispatching the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 on Wednesday night to capture the franchise’s first-ever title. While they were relegated to Wild Card status on the final day of the regular season, Texas stormed through these playoffs, going a perfect 11-0 on the road while eliminating teams that won 90, 99 and 101 games this year. They had an elite one-two punch atop the rotation in Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery, while their lineup proved to be among the deepest in all of baseball.
And here’s a scary thought: Next year, they could be even better.
Sure, there may be some recency bias at play here, and obviously there’s a whole offseason to go through before we start making proclamations about the 2024 season. But it’s hard to believe that the Rangers won’t be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future — and here are three reasons why.
A full season from Evan Carter (and other young studs)
Thrust into the limelight due to injuries in September, Carter — the team’s top prospect — blossomed into a star in the playoffs, slashing .300/.417/.500 with 10 extra-base hits and three stolen bases over 17 games and spending considerable time batting third in Texas’ lineup. He still has work to do learning to hit lefties, but an already-scary Rangers offense should be even better with Carter in a corner spot (or maybe even center, should Leody Taveras get traded) all season.
But Carter isn’t the only stud young outfielder who should make an impact in Arlington in 2024. There’s also Wyatt Langford, the No. 4 pick in this year’s MLB Draft after a ridiculous career at Florida and who should be banging down the door of the Majors at some point next summer. He’s already considered among the top prospects in all of baseball, and his 1.157 OPS across four levels of the Minors did nothing to discourage that optimism. Bottom line: The Rangers aren’t going to stop hitting any time soon, and they could be even better.
Technically, the Rangers had the eighth-fewest days lost to injury of any MLB team during the regular season. But all missed days are not created equal: Jacob deGrom was lost after six starts to Tommy John surgery, while key players like Seager, Eovaldi and Max Scherzer missed chunks of the regular season. And that’s not even considering October, in which Scherzer and Adolis Garcia went down.
deGrom will miss much if not most of 2024 as he rehabs, but if guys like Scherzer, Garcia, Seager and Eovaldi are on the field more consistently next season, that’s bad news for the rest of the league.
A relatively weak division
The Los Angeles Angels are almost certainly about to lose Shohei Ohtani, kicking off what figures to be a long and very painful rebuild. The Oakland Athletics don’t even know where they’ll be playing next season, and should remain a laughingstock. Not having to deal with Ohtani as much is reason alone for optimism, but the AL West will be a three-team race before the season even starts — with the other two ranking as quite possibly the two worst teams in the league. That’s a lot of easy wins on the schedule, without even accounting for the fact that Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto seems terminally incapable of being aggressive in free agency.