The thoughts of preparing for a long, hot summer and the Texas Rangers struggling are hard to bear for the North Texas baseball fan.
If you have been a baseball fan for more than a few years, you understand how difficult it is to reach the playoffs and be a winning team. In baseball more than other sports, it is a process that sometimes needs to reset itself to get on track. The Rangers' front office knows what it takes to create a winning team and rest assure they are already thinking about 2015 and beyond. For fans, there are still reasons to go to Globe Life Park this season and watch the current Rangers.
1. Yu Darvish: Despite his recent struggles, he is one of three pitchers for this franchise in my lifetime that I can say is must watch (Nolan Ryan and Cliff Lee being the others). He is sixth in the AL in strikeouts, fourth in ERA and fourth in rWAR with 3.1. Since he joined the Rangers in 2012, he leads the MLB in K/9 (11.15) and is sixth in fWAR (12.7). While the rest of the rotation is barely held together, we are guaranteed poetry in motion every fifth day with Yu.
2. Hall of Famer: When you go to the ballpark to watch a game, you are watching one of the best third basemen to ever play the game wearing home team colors. Adrian Beltre is having another fine season as leads all hot corner players in batting average (.328) and OPS (.867). He is also sixth in rWAR (2.0), third in OBP (.371) and second in slugging percentage (.496). Even at 35, Beltre is showing All-Star quality and is the leader of this ballclub.
***All you really need are those top two reasons to go see the Rangers, but I'll give you a few more below.***
3. Roogie: The 20-year-old at second base is having an impressive rookie season as he is hitting .282/.316/.445. He is drawing comparisons to Michael Young for his ability at a position the former Ranger great once manned. Odor is having the type of season many of us thought Jurickson Profar would have, but Roogie is doing it without the benefit of ever playing above Double-A ball prior to being called up. The future is very bright for a kid that won't be able to legally buy a beer until 2015.
4. Second-half Elvis: While Andrus got off to another slow start this season, it appears that he is starting to figure it out offensively as he is hitting .293/.327/.348 over the last 28 days. Over his career, Elvis has a .705 OPS for the second half of the season compared to a .672 OPS in the first half. This was certainly evident last season when Andrus posted a .580 OPS before the All-Star break and a .774 OPS afterwards. As a ballplayer, Andrus' value is in his defense and baserunning, but when he is able to get on an offensive hot streak, this is when he soars.
5. Maturation of Leonys: Which position player has been consistently the most valuable on the team in 2014? That would be Martin who has been inconsistent at the plate, but plays exceptional defense and is second on the team in stolen bases with 17. He hasn't developed the power that many scouts thought he would display (20 home run potential) and struggles vs. LHP (.521 OPS), but he is on pace for a four-win season and is auditioning for a spot in the leadoff position (.306/.405/.417 in 10 games).
This season may also be our last chance to see Colby Lewis in uniform, witness the continued development of Nick Martinez and possibly see Luke Jackson called up in September. Does Joey Gallo get a cup of coffee with the team late in the year? There are dozens of reasons to go out and enjoy baseball this summer no matter what the record indicates.
If you really love baseball, then you understand there is no such thing as a lost season, but rather one that allows us to see development of younger players and brilliance of veterans.
Win or lose, this is a great game and should not be taken for granted.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be on Twitter@emiddlebrook.