Will the Rangers be sellers and finish under .500? It’s fathomable.

Chip Stewart
4 min readJul 10, 2023

Since the Texas Rangers announced that the cavalry was not coming — ace Jacob deGrom would be out for all of this year and most of next with an elbow injury after just 6 pretty good starts — the wheels have fallen off. Texas has gone 12–19, while getting another round of national embarrassment for thumbing their nose at Pride Month, and then inviting the wrath of the baseball gods further by trading for domestic abuser Aroldis Chapman.

After the Chapman trade, the Rangers have gone 2–7, with two spectacular bullpen collapses (neither his fault, but nothing matters, leave me alone). They limped into the All Star break with what otherwise, context-free, looks like pretty good first half: 52–39 record (13 games over .500) and a 2-game lead on Houston for the AL West lead.

The other day, as Rangers fans continued to get antsy, Dallas Morning News beat writer Evan Grant punched back at their exasperation on Twitter, posting the following:

I don’t do Twitter any more, so here’s his Mastodon bot

As a Rangers fan long predating Grant’s tenure covering the team, I’m here to tell you — I can absolutely fathom such a world. Because exactly 40 years ago, we lived in that world.

I’m 10 years old, and after living the entirety of my life in Arlington Texas, just a couple of miles from the old Turnpike Stadium, we moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, for my dad’s work. It was the summer of 1983. And the Texas Rangers were doing something magical.

Manager Doug Rader had the team playing its best. Coming off a 98-loss season, the Rangers were in first place at the All Star break with a 44–34 record, 2 games up on second place California and 3.5 ahead of the Chicago White Sox that Rader had infamously accused of “winning ugly.” Rick Honeycutt was leading the league in ERA and made the All Star team. Veterans Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Bucky Dent, Billy Sample, Jim Sundberg and even Mickey Rivers headed up a lineup otherwise made up of youngsters (centerfielder George Wright, rookies Wayne Tolleson and Pete O’Brien, and DH Mike Hostetler). Charlie Hough and Frank Tanana joined Honeycutt in the rotation, as did rookie Mike Smithson. It was a pretty good team, overachieving a bit, but plausibly a contender.

This, for 10-year-old me just getting into baseball cards and box scores, was a first. A contending Texas Rangers team in July? Unfathomable!

I devoured the box scores in the newspaper each morning. I watched the All Star game and cheered for Rick Honeycutt’s 2 shaky innings in support of the AL’s monstrous 13–3 win.

Then the second half started, and the heartbreak began. The Rangers got swept in Toronto, falling to a tie for first with the Angels just three games in. It was the beginning of the end, and I learned how Texas teams wilt in the second half. By the end of July, the Rangers were 49–53 and in third place, 4.5 games back.

Then they lost some more, ultimately going 5–21 after the break and getting into sell mode. On August 19, with a 57–61 record and 8 games out of first, they traded eventual AL ERA champion Honeycutt to the Dodgers for Dave Stewart.

Honeycutt was 14–8 and led the AL with a 2.42 ERA in 1983 in his 25 starts for the Rangers

Honeycutt pitched in the playoffs. The Rangers finished 77–83, in third place, 22 games behind Chicago.

So yeah, I can fathom the Rangers being a seller after a surprising and exciting first half. I remember it again in 1991, when the Rangers were tied for first place at the All Star break with Minnesota with a 44–33 record, only to go 1–8 after the break to begin a spiral that was not aided by the addition of Oil Can Boyd in a July trade.

By the end of August, at 67–60 and 8.5 games out of first, Texas traded third baseman Steve Buechele to the Pirates for prospects (you’ll never believe this, but they didn’t work out) so he could go play for an actual contender.

It’s still not right

Fathomable!

Let’s say that the Rangers keep playing at the 12–19 pace they’ve been on since officially losing deGrom. That’s a .387 winning percentage. With 71 games remaining, that would mean a record of 28–43, if we’re kind and round up from 27.48 wins. That means Texas would finish 80–82 to finish under .500 for a franchise-record seventh straight season.

Allow us fans our despair. This is what the Texas Rangers have made us.

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Chip Stewart

Lawyer. Journalist. TCU professor. Viewer discretion is advised.