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ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 1: Manager Chris Woodward #8 of the Texas Rangers reacts in the dugout as the Rangers play the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Globe Life Field on August 1, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ron Jenkins / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

A whirlwind of offseason additions did little to improve the 2022 World Series odds of the Texas Rangers before the MLB lockout. Scott Cullen looks at the team's improvements.

The Rangers finished with the third-worst record in Major League Baseball at 60-102 last season. Going into the 2021 campaign, they had a win total Over/Under of 66.5, which was the fourth-lowest in MLB, so the losing season was not a surprise.

At the same time, the Rangers went into this offseason prepared to spend money to at least make the team competitive in 2022.

Will the Rangers’ early free-agent spending spree and offseason additions have the desired effect? We look at odds to win the 2022 World Series and break down the Rangers' net improvement this offseason.

2022 World Series Odds

Rangers Offseason Additions Roundup

New keystone combination

Shortstop Corey Seager is the big free-agent prize for the Rangers. The 27-year-old signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with Texas. He played only 95 games in 2021 but was good for 3.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs, in that shortened season. Seager’s most productive seasons of 2016 and 2017, brought a WAR of 6.9 and 6.0, respectively. 

Seager was World Series and NLCS MVP on the way to the Dodgers’ 2020 championship win.

Early steamer projections have Seager with a 4.8 WAR in 2022. That’s a star at one of the most important positions on the field.

Combining with Seager in the middle infield is Marcus Semien, the former shortstop who moved to second base with the Toronto Blue Jays last season. Semien is 31 and still secured a seven-year, $175 million contract after a monster season. He slugged a career-high 45 home runs and hit .265 with an .873 OPS. His 6.6 WAR was the second highest of his career, behind only a 7.6 WAR in 2019 with the Oakland Athletics.

Steamer projections peg Semien’s value at 4.6 WAR for 2022. The Rangers have remodeled their middle infield in a big way. For a price tag of $500 million, it ought to be much better.

In the outfield

Thirty-four-year-old OF Kole Calhoun was limited to 51 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks due to multiple injuries in 2021. He had a modest five home runs and a .235 batting average to go with a .670 OPS. His WAR was 0.0, but in 2020 he was worth 1.8 WAR in 54 games and was valued at 2.0 WAR or higher in five of the six seasons before that.

Calhoun hits for power and will strike out. His Steamer projection for 2022 puts him at 1.0 WAR, and he was reasonably priced at $5.2 million for one season.

On the mound

Getting out of Colorado would figure to bring better results but RHP Jon Gray had better numbers at home last season. 

Nevertheless, Gray signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers. He had a WAR of 2.0 or better in five of the last six seasons and his Fielding Independent Pitching was routinely much lower than his ERA. For his career, Gray has a FIP of 3.91 compared to a 4.59 ERA.

Gray’s Steamer projection for 2022 includes 2.1 WAR.

All of this is to suggest that Gray is suitable as a mid-rotation starter on a good team; however, it looks like he is currently projected as the staff ace for the Rangers. This may be the hurdle that the Rangers need to overcome if they are to become legitimately competitive in the American League West.

Rangers' offseason additions net improvement

The difficulty for the Rangers is that if adding Gray is all they do for the pitching staff, he is not likely to even match the impact Kyle Gibson had in 2021 before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the middle infield, Seager and Semien are stars. They will very likely be better than last season’s keystone combination of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nick Solak, a duo that combined for 3.4 WAR in 2021. The Rangers would be about six wins better from the middle infield spots if Seager and Semien hit their Steamer projections.

Calhoun is a capable major leaguer but not much of an improvement over the variety of players the Rangers used in corner outfield spots last season.

As it stands now, it looks like the Rangers might be something in the range of six to 10 wins better than last year. It's a clear improvement, but if they end up winning 67-70 games, there is still some distance to be covered before the Rangers are competitive. Some of that gap can be closed by internal improvement. The Rangers have some young players, especially pitchers, who could develop enough to make this team competitive. 

Behind Gray, the Rangers have Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, A.J. Alexy, and Spencer Howard slotted into the rotation. Unproven pitchers might offer potential optimism, but they also bring significant risk.

As such, when the 2022 win totals come out, don’t be overly optimistic about the Rangers’ chances.

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