Rangers have chance to repeat improbable feat

By David Mullen

For the first time in the 53-season history of the Texas Rangers, fans can forthrightly ask, “Will the Rangers repeat as World Champions this season?”

The answer is: “Yes, they can. But they probably won’t.” No team has repeated as World Series Champions since the 1999-2000 New York Yankees. The American League is loaded with good teams. And even when Rangers’ manager Bruce Bochy won three World Series crowns with the San Francisco Giants, he won them every other year (2020, 2012 and 2014).

The 2024 Rangers provide plenty of reasons for optimism, but half of their starting pitching staff won’t be ready until later in the season. Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and newcomer Tyler Mahle start the season on the shelf.

Rangers’ rookie Wyatt Langford is waiting for his chance.
Photo courtesy of the Texas Rangers/Facebook

Stars Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Adolis García turned the Rangers from laughable failures to loveable winners. Rookie Evan Carter excelled in the playoffs, and rookie Wyatt Langford is waiting for his chance. David Robertson was added for bullpen help. With a late season run, the Rangers will be a 95-win team.

Texas finally has a hated division rival in the Houston Astros — the Hoodlums of Harris County. Despite the Rangers’ reigning championship and improvements in the offseason, the Astros are the favorites to win the AL West. 

They are perennial division winners and have seven consecutive trips to the ALCS. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez are Ranger killers. In the offseason, Houston added Josh Hader to an already stellar bullpen. The Seattle Mariners are a consistent 90-win team and have an impressive starting rotation with Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert. Don’t lose sight of the Mariners. 

Ex-Rangers coach Ron Washington takes over as manager of the Los Angeles Angels, still reeling in the loss of Shohei Ohtani to the crosstown LA Dodgers. The Angels must rely on superstar Mike Trout to carry the team. The Oakland A’s, a once proud franchise, are reluctantly leaving home. Owner John Fisher rebuffs offers to sell the team and is trying to lose games to justify his universally unpopular decision to move to Las Vegas. 

Even Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman said, “I personally think they’ve got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland.” She may be the first politician ever unwilling to accept a gift.

In the AL East, as always, all eyes are on the vastly overrated Yankees. They didn’t even make the playoffs in 2023, yet Vegas oddsmakers have the Yankees favored over the Rangers to win the AL pennant. Derek Jeter retired 10 years ago. Get over it. 

New York acquired Juan Soto, which makes their lineup better, but Aaron Judge and 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole are battling injuries. The beasts of the East are the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles improved by 49 games from 2021 to 2023 and are only getting better with age. They have Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson, catcher Adley Rutschman, outfielders Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins and a budding star in 20-year-old Jackson Holliday. Needing a starter, the O’s got ace Corbin Burnes.

The Toronto Blue Jays seem to underwhelm each year, despite a roster full of talent. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and Alejandro Kirk remain the core. The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to come out of nowhere to win. Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz are All-Stars. The Boston Red Sox ownership is wealthy but continue to be coupon clippers while the rest of the division pays full retail.

No division is more up for grabs than the AL Central. Teams will beat each other up within the division and be regularly beaten by teams in the AL West and AL East. It is the AL Mess.

Last season, the Minnesota Twins ran away with the division by nine games. They finished six games over .500, and then slashed their already anemic payroll by $30 million this season. 

They decimated their starting pitching and hope that oft injured players like Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton stay healthy. The Cleveland Guardians did nothing to get better in the off season. 

Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor are the only players with pop. In recent years, the Chicago White Sox were a trendy pick. In 2024, they are starting to rebuild using inferior resources. Baseball waits for outfielders Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jimenez to have breakout seasons.

Two division teams that are worth watching are the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. Youngsters Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene and a solid bullpen could have the Tigers roaring again. Son of former Ranger hurler Bobby Witt, the Royals have budding superstar SS Bobby Witt Jr. Coming off a 106 loss 2023 season, by September, the Royals may be the turnaround story in baseball.

Texas must get by hated Houston and barnstorming Baltimore to repeat as AL Champions. A lot has to go right, but this Rangers team is excellent and even better than 2023. There is no reason that they can’t repeat as World Series Champions even if the odds — and oddsmakers — are against them.