By Dan Schlossberg
Signing a new manager doesn’t guarantee instant success.
But signing a manager with a winning pedigree and signing proven players at the same time can prove a winning formula.
Just ask the Texas Rangers.
Over the past two years, they’ve spent $850 million on veteran free agents and coaxed Bruce Bochy, a three-time world champion in San Francisco, out of retirement.
The result is a juggernaut that has dominated the American League West even with Jacob deGrom’s elbow barking again (he needs a second Tommy John surgery).
Shooting from all six cylinders, Texas is tormenting foes with a blend of stalwart starting pitching and a powerful offense.
The earned run average of its starting rotation is second in the majors, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays, and helps compensate for a bullpen that needs to be buttressed.
But that hitting! Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, snatched from other clubs via free agency, have become the most potent double-play tandem in the majors. Semien has even emerged as an MVP candidate, although that trophy seems reserved for Aarin Judge or Shohei Ohtani.
“Their offense is elite,” Pittsburgh Pirates pilot Derek Shelton said after his team faced the Rangers. “It leads the league in a lot of categories.
“They can beat you in a ton of ways and when you’re playing them, it can really happen fast.”
According to New York Post columnist Joel Sherman, the Rangers are scoring more runs per game than any club since the 1950 Boston Red Sox, who finished that 154-game season with an average of 6.7.
Texas is getting contributions up and down the lineup, from people like catcher Jonah Heim, outfielder Adolis Garcia, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, and rookie third baseman Josh Jung, healed after suffering a turn labrum.
In addition to Jung, whom Sherman touts as a favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, shortstop Ezequiel Duran should also help after returning from an oblique injury. The former Yankees prospect has surprising pop.
Texas took two of three from the Yankees at the end of April and has been on a roll since. Nathan Eovaldi, stolen from the Red Sox for two years and $34 million, has been pitching like a potential Cy Young Award winner — just in time to fill the vacuum created by deGrom’s extended absence.
Martín Pérez, retained through a qualifying offer, has also steadied the rotation, along with Jon Gray, glad to escape Colorado, and much-maligned lefty Andrew Heaney.
No wonder the Rangers started the year with the best 55-game record in their history (35-20) and the second-best record in the majors.
Bochy, at 68 the second-oldest manager in the majors, is enjoying the ride. He just passed Walter Alston on the managerial wins list to move into the Top 10 all-time. He can clinch a spot in Cooperstown by taking Texas to its first world championship.
Here’s The Pitch weekend editor Dan Schlossberg also writes for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and other outlets. He’s working on a Hank Aaron book and promoting this year’s Baseball’s Memorable Misses: an Unabashed Look at the Game’s Craziest Zeroes. Not surprisingly, Dan’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.