In less than two months, the 2014 baseball season will begin. The Texas Rangers are poised to return to the postseason, but there are a good amount of questions surrounding the season.
Question: Will the Rangers get back to their running roots?
We've talked about it on this here blog in several different ways over the past couple of years, but do you remember when the Rangers burst onto the MLB scene in 2010, and more importantly, how they did it? Sure, the Rangers had a freakishly healthy pitching staff that year, and they had an MVP season from Josh Hamilton. But you know what else they did? They put tremendous pressure on opposing pitchers with an aggressive, and more importantly, effective running game.
In 2011, they began to get away from that mentality, and they've gotten more and more away from it the past two years. In 2013, when the Rangers failed to even make the postseason, they were a flat-out bad baserunning team, often running into outs and just being altogether boneheaded.
The Rangers took a lot more bases in 2013 than they had in 2012, when they basically stopped running, as between steals and taking extra bases (first to third), the Rangers swiped 84 more bags than they did in 2012. They also ran into a lot more outs — 15 to be exact — thanks in large part to an unreal amount of pickoffs Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus were victimized on. Kinsler is gone, and say what you want about those pickoffs, but he was one of the best players in baseball at taking first to third successfully.
This year, the Rangers have three players — Andrus, Leonys Martin and Alex Rios — who had at least 30 stolen bases a year ago and they add Shin-Soo Choo, who has had at least 20 stolen bases in four of the past five seasons.
The parts are there for the Rangers to be a tenacious baserunning team once again, it's just going to come down to execution to see if they can do it again.