Still-Rebuilding Rangers Use 26 Rookies In 102-Loss Season

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, left, looks on from the dugout in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, left, looks on from the dugout in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Chris Woodward and the Texas Rangers certainly knew this was possible with the young and inexperienced roster they had, especially after trading away two All-Star players during the middle of it. That still doesn't take away the sting of a 102-loss season.

“It didn't have to happen, I don’t believe in that like, oh, you have to go through this. you have to go through that," Woodward said. “You don’t have to go through that. But we did. And the fact is, like some things in life you don’t expect, you don’t want to do that.”

The Rangers used a club-record 26 rookies and had their most losses since setting a franchise record with 105 in 1973, only the team's second year in Texas. It was their fifth consecutive losing season since last winning the AL West in 2016.

Chris Young, the former Rangers pitcher and MLB executive who became their general manager last December, has vowed that there won't be another season like this.

While the Rangers should have plenty of money to spend in free agency to add some external pieces, the hard part will be landing players to be part of a far-from-finished rebuilding effort. They need experienced starters for their rotation, and veteran additions to an everyday lineup that routinely had at least four or five rookies.

“I truly believe that we can outline a vision for what we have and people will want to come,” Woodward said. "It's just a matter of getting them here.”

Texas traded resurgent All-Star starter Kyle Gibson and closer Ian Kennedy to the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline after sending homegrown All-Star slugger and Gold Glove-winning right fielder Joey Gallo to the New York Yankees. Gibson and Gallo were both signed through 2022, but the Rangers got seven prospects in those deals made right after a 12-game skid that included 109 consecutive completed innings without holding the lead.

The Rangers were 18-18 in early May before a winless six-game trip during a 1-9 stretch.

Texas was 12-15 in September, its best monthly record this season.

“How do we take this team from where it is right now to being a contender,” Woodward said. “We’ve answered some questions this year, but honestly, it’s really too small of a sample size, until we start to see it on a larger scale.”

ALL-STAR ROOKIE

Adolis Garcia wasn't even on the roster to start the season. But the 28-year-old Cuban outfielder got an early callup after Ronald Guzman's season-ending knee surgery, and was the first Rangers player whose first career homer was a go-ahead shot in extra innings. Garcia was selected to the All-Star Game, and went on to set Rangers rookie records with his 31 homers and 90 RBIs. His 16 outfield assists matched the most in the majors.

OFFENSIVELY CHALLENGED

The Rangers finished 29th in the majors with their .232 team batting average. Their AL-low 625 runs were 34 fewer than Baltimore scored and their fewest in a full 162-game season since 613 in 1994. They were shut out a majors-high 15 times, including 6-0 in their season final e Sunday.

FUTURE YOUTH

Along with all the rookies that played this season, and prospects added in the trades, Texas also got pitcher Jack Leiter with the second overall pick in the July draft. The right-hander from Vanderbilt, and the son of former big league lefty Al Leiter, got a $7,922,000 signing bonus, the largest for a pitcher since Gerrit Cole got $8 million as the first overall pick by Pittsburgh in 2011. The Rangers are in line for the third overall pick in next summer's draft.

Third baseman Josh Jung, their 2019 first-round pick, could be in the lineup on opening day next March 31. Jung likely would have made his big league debut this season if he hadn't suffered a foot injury in spring training that sidelined him until mid-June.

COACHING STAFF

Woodward has a 160-224 record in his three seasons, most of it in a rebuilding mode. His 2022 contract option was exercised by the Rangers last spring, but Woodward acknowledged there could be changes to his staff. He said the evaluations of coaches would be based on full bodies of work, not the second half of this season.

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