The Texas Rangers (94-65) have clinched the AL West, and their midseason acquisitions are a big reason why.
“It has them where they are right now,” Fox Sports Southwest Rangers analyst Mark McLemore said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Their No. 1 priority was getting a starting pitcher or two at the trade deadline. When that didn’t happen, their next best thing was hey, let’s get some offense.”
So they did.
“They were able to get Jonathan Lucroy, a great catcher not only offensively, but a guy who can actually call a game, a signal-caller who can take control of a pitching staff – and he’s done that,” McLemore said. “He’s done a tremendous job of doing that. But we can’t forget the acquisition of Carlos Beltran.”
Beltran, 39 was acquired from the Yankees. He’s hitting .278 with six home runs, 28 RBIs and 22 runs in 50 games for the Rangers.
“He’s helped Adrian Beltre out, No. 1, being able to hit in front of him effectively – drive in runs, come up with big hits, home runs, great plays,” McLemore said. “So his leadership helps Beltre out and the ball club.”
Carlos Gomez has paid dividends as well. The 30-year-old is hitting .291 with a .371 OBP and has eight home runs, 24 RBIs and five steals in 31 games for Texas.
“He’s basically rejuvenated his career,” McLemore said. “He’s playing like that All-Star player he was in Milwaukee just a few years ago. He hit a huge home run tonight – a three-run bomb. He hit a three-run bomb last night as well and helped the Rangers win both of these games. He’s jumped into that leadoff spot, something that he’s familiar with. So the acquisitions that Jon Daniels was able to make have gotten this team to where they are right now. Without those acquisitions, I don’t know where they’d be.”
Gomez’s turnaround is especially noteworthy, as he simply did not produce with the Astros. He hit .242 in 41 games in Houston in 2015 and .210 in 85 games earlier this season.
“When he was in Houston, he was pretty much the veteran guy for that team,” McLemore said. “There wasn’t really anybody that had the years that Carlos Gomez had, so he was looked at as that leader, the guy who helped lead that ball club. I don’t think that’s a role for him just yet. Maybe a few more years down the road but not just yet. Now fast-forward to being here with the Rangers. He doesn’t have to worry about being that veteran player. The Rangers are full of veteran players. You’ve got Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre. Carlos Beltran is basically a father figure to Carlos Gomez. They played together when Carlos first came up with the Mets, and that was a story I didn’t really know. But Carlos actually was part of the reason the Rangers were able to get him. So not having to worry about being the leader on a team, he’s just come right in, fit in and he’s another cog in the wheel – and that’s all he really wants to be.”
The Rangers have also been motivated by their playoff fate last postseason; they just don’t want it to define them.
“It’s over with. It’s done with,” McLemore said of the crushing loss to the Blue Jays. “We are in 2016, not ’15. They really can’t go back and relive that. If you do it as a player, that’s going to interfere what you’re doing right now. Some of the guys, especially Elvis Andrus, have used that as a motivation for this year to be better, and believe me, this is his best year all-around by far. So I think some of the guys have used that as motivation for this year. It’s great to use it as motivation. You just can’t harp on it. You can’t focus on it. You’ve got to move forward and say, ‘Hey, here we are right now. This is a different year, different circumstances. Let’s go beyond that.’”