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Friday newsletter time: Despite strong first two months, not everyone sold on Rangers

 (AP photo/Carlos Osorio)

 

The best team in baseball in May was the Texas Rangers, who went 18-9. Thirteen of those wins came on the road.

They have several deserving candidates for the All-Star Game, and they should have the American League Pitcher of the Month for May in Nathan Eovaldi. Josh Jung could repeat as Rookie of the Month.

The Rangers, though, still haven’t convinced some nationally that they could win the AL West.

The Astros are coming, some pundits have said. They played much of the season without Jose Altuve and are without three starting pitchers, and yet they are only 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Rangers.

Never mind that the Rangers have played most of the season without their best hitter, shortstop Corey Seager, and have been without the best starting pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, for more than a month.

Of course, more than 100 games are left this season. The Astros might catch the Rangers. The Mariners, who visit Globe Life Field this weekend, might catch the Rangers.

But to just casually cast the Rangers aside is a dismissal of how well they played the first two months of the season.

They aren’t 35-20 because they’re lucky. They have one of the best offenses in baseball, one of the best rotations in baseball and have enough prospects to make a deal for any reliever at the trade deadline.

Oh, and deGrom is going to come back.

The Rangers have everything they need to stay in the hunt and to win the division.

It’s OK to admit it.

Jung repeat?

Rangers Today has already declared Eovaldi the AL Pitcher of the Month for May. It’s obvious, though, an MLB.com writer said that Rangers righty Jon Gray was the best pitcher in May. Interesting.

Jung has put himself in position to open the season with two straight Rookie of the Month honors, but this one isn’t as easy as Pitcher of the Month should be.

The Red Sox have a “rookie,” 29-year-old Japanese star Masakta Yoshida, who batted .354 last month with a .962 OPS. Only three of his 12 extra-base hits were homers.

Jung collected six home runs among 13 extra-base hits while batting a very respectible .318 with a .918 OPS. Jung had a higher slugging percentage than Yoshida, though narrowly at .561 to .552.

Two pitchers might draw some interest — Seattle’s Bryce Miller (3-2, 3.00 ERA, 31 strikeouts, 3 walks) and Minnesota’s Louie Varland (3-1, 3.34 ERA, 31 strikeouts, 7 walks).

This one, though, should be tight between Jung and Yoshida.

Card of the Week

The Card of the Week is a repeat, though from nearly two years ago. This is a timely one, however.

Which player had the highest batting average in May in the AL?

Leody Taveras did, and his 2017 Bowman Draft 1st Bowman green fractor auto is the Card of the Week

The Rangers have been waiting for Taveras to blossom into a quality major-league contributor, and he did in May after a slump to start the season after missing much of spring training. He’s not a finished product at the plate, with his power still missing, but the Rangers aren’t complaining.

Throw in his terrific defense in center field, and Taveras is starting to look like a fixture in center field even with top prospect Evan Carter also a center fielder.

The key for Taveras is if he can continue his hot hitting. Teams will adjust how they pitch him, and he will have to adjust back. While not the most experienced player, he has seen enough to help him figure a way out of a potential slump.

If he can do that, the sales price on the Card of the Week might soar.

Doggy video!

Enjoy your weekend.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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