2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Texas Rangers

The Rangers to target and avoid this draft season.

After more than fifty years without a title in Arlington, the Texas Rangers are World Series champs. It was a postseason worth remembering, including a perfect 11-0 record in away games — especially for a team that once went four decades without winning a playoff series.

After losing more than a hundred games in 2020, the Rangers brought Chris Young on board as their General Manager — and the rebuild began. The former MLB pitcher immediately signed Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to lucrative free-agent contracts. In subsequent years he acquired pitchers Jacob DeGrom and Nathan Eovaldi and traded for Max Scherzer at the deadline in 2023.

Perhaps Young’s biggest move didn’t involve a player. Young and Bruce Bochy have a history together going back to the Padres in the mid-2000s, where Bochy managed for 12 seasons before moving north to San Francisco (and three World Series titles over another 13 seasons). But though Bochy had hung up his spurs in 2019, his former player and friend came calling. Bochy agreed to don a uniform once again and the rest is history.

Now, what’s in store for the Texas Rangers a season after their historic championship? Quite possibly, their offense could even be better than last year, though they led the AL in Hits, Runs, Home Runs (though tying with the Twins), RBIs, and OPS. But some new talent in the outfield should more than offset their biggest free agency loss (Mitch Garver) and put this team in line for at least another pennant. The question will be if their pitching can back up all the run support the offense will provide — if they can do that, they have another chance to beat whoever comes out of the NL for a repeat title.



Regardless of their team outcome in 2024, the Rangers have a bevy of fantasy stars in the batter’s box, many of whom are still somehow underrated.


Corey Seager

2023 stats (536 PA): .327 AVG, 88 R, 33 HR, 96 RBI, 2 SB

It’s hard to believe the World Series champs have only 3 batters in the top 75 in NFBC rankings and no pitchers. A case could be made that almost every hitter in the Rangers lineup is a sleeper. But let’s start with Seager.

As a second-round pick, it’s easy to wonder how Seager could be considered undervalued. But there’s a case to be made he should be considered a top-5 bat, or at minimum a first-round pick.

Corey Seager is good at everything except being fast

Seager played in 119 games in 2023 but still put up monster stats. If you extrapolated his season to 150 games and 675 plate appearances (Marcus Semien, hitting just ahead of him, had 753 PAs, so this is well within the realm of possibility), this is what his season could have been:

If Corey Seager played 150 games in 2023:

PA Runs RBI Home Runs Stolen Bases
Actual stats 536 88 96 33 2
Projected stats 675 111 121 43 still 2

As you can see, there is a hole in Seager’s game, and that is his lack of running. Going into his age 30 season this is not going to get better, but thankfully steals are an easier hole to fill thanks to the larger bases and limited pick-off moves. And Seager’s dominance in the other 4 categories — as a middle infielder, no less — should more than offset any initial SB paucity.

Seager’s .327 average and power output are all repeatable due to a top 1% WOBA and top 4% Hard Hit rate, along with an insane 15.2% barrel rate. Simply put, he smashes the ball. He also showed remarkable consistency last year — his worst month was September when he still had a .885 OPS and hit .277.

Perhaps the biggest ding on Seager is his health, and you may be taking a risk here. But the same could be said for the other shortstops in this tier (Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor). Seager will likely be more productive than both of these players and should be among the first 10 players selected.


Josh Jung

2023 stats (515 PA): .266 AVG, 75 R, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB

It’s tempting to put Wyatt Langford here, or Evan Carter, or even Jonah Heim. As mentioned, the whole lineup might be sleepers — especially Carter, who after his amazing postseason isn’t getting hyped as much as he could be. You could also make the case for the perennially underrated Adolis Garcia. But among all these candidates, in our opinion, Jung is the sleeper-iest of the bunch.

A former first-rounder out of Texas Tech, Jung joined the big club in late 2022 and played well enough to land on a lot of sleeper lists last year. By all accounts, he acquitted himself well as the everyday third basemen and batted fifth in the order. A thumb injury in August cost him about six weeks, and he didn’t quite look the same in September, slashing .208/.292/.547 for the month. Then came the postseason, though, and he bounced back to hit .308 with 3 home runs, 13 runs scored, and 8 RBIs in the 17-game October stretch.

Jung’s hitter profile compares a lot to Corey Seager, though his metrics aren’t as elite. But he makes hard contact with an 11.9% barrel rate, has an optimal 15% launch angle, and a 41.9% sweet-spot rate (top 3% in the league). And one correction could turn these ratios into better outcomes: Jung pulls the ball less than 90% of the league, so a few more balls to left field could turn some long outs into homers.

Also like Seager, Jung won’t do anything for you in the steals department — but he did swipe 7 bags in his short minor-league career so his 36th-percentile sprint speed might net a couple more this season.

Jung’s biggest weakness is his strikeouts, which at 29.3% last year ranks in the lower tier of third basemen — but he was a career .311 hitter in the minors with a sub-25% k-rate, so this could improve. Given the levels of hard contact, he can still hit for a moderate-to-good batting average even if his whiff issues continue.

Jung is currently going around 100 overall, around the same range as Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, and Spencer Steer. But Jung’s upside is considerably higher than these players and is entrenched in a superior lineup that should allow for more counting stats. A 30-90-90 season is not out of the question and he should be considered in the top-75.



Again, the Rangers aren’t flying up the draft boards after their prolific 2023 season, leaving little room for bust candidates. But here are a couple of players who may not reach their expectations in ’24:


Nathan Eovaldi

2023 stats (144.0 IP): 3.63 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 132 K, 12 W

No player contributed more to the Rangers’ World Series run than Eovaldi, winning 5 games in the postseason and memorably out-dueling Zac Gallen in the deciding Game 5. With DeGrom shelved and Scherzer not panning out, the role of Number One Starter fell on Eovaldi’s shoulders and he gritted his way to a 3.05 ERA with 42 K’s in 36.2 playoff innings.

So why would we consider this World Series hero a bust? Aside from his postseason performance, Eovaldi’s season was uneven. He started in stellar fashion, giving up only 4 earned runs the entire month of May and making his second All-Star team with 10 wins by the break. A forearm strain shelved him in late July, however, and he struggled mightily after a 5-week DL stint. His forgettable September included a 9.30 ERA and 13 walks in 21 IP.

He found it again once the season ended, of course, and the rest is history. But a long playoff stretch can tire an arm and Eovaldi will turn 34 in February.

There are some other worrying signs, most notably a declining K-rate over the last few years:

Season IP K K/9
2021 182.1 195 9.6
2022 109.1 103 8.5
2023 144 132 8.3

For all his 2023 success, Eovaldi was below average in CSW and Hard Contact against. His expected ERA was considerably higher than his actual ERA, 3.98 to 3.63. And his walk rate nearly doubled from 4.3% in 2022 to 8.1% in 2023.

Eovaldi relied more on his splitter last year than ever before, throwing it 28% of the time compared to 15% earlier in his career. It only has a 27% CSW but an impressive 70% ground ball rate. As he learns to pitch more to contact later in his career, Eovaldi will continue to rely on the splitter for outs, but you can expect the K-rate to continue to decline.

The main thing to keep an eye on will be velocity. If he’s just a tick or two below 96 mph on his fastball, you can expect a lot fewer whiffs and even more hard contact. The past few seasons have shown a pattern of eroding velocity as the season wears on, and chances are his superhuman playoff exertion will drive fatigue into the 2024 year. For this and the other reasons outlined above, the Rangers starter should be drafted outside the top 40 pitchers.



Leody Taveras

2023 stats (554 PA): .266 AVG, 67 R, 14 HR, 67 RBI, 14 SB

Taveras signed with the Rangers as a 17-year-old in 2015, fetching $2.6M as an international free agent. At one point the club’s best prospect, the switch-hitter steadily moved through the minors and debuted as a September call-up in 2020.

Things got rocky from there. A popular fantasy sleeper candidate in 2021, Taveras had an anemic April and was swiftly relegated to the minors. He acquitted himself well enough there (.275 BA with 17 home runs and 13 steals for the Round Rock Express) to get a callback in August, but struggled again with MLB pitching and finished 2021 with a paltry .161/.207/.477 slash line. Taveras then spent the first few months of ’22 in AAA before the Rangers gave him another chance.

He’s since found a full-time job in Center, batting at the bottom of a stacked lineup. Though an oblique injury cost him a couple of weeks out of the gate in 2023, Taveras ended up close to a 15-15 season with decent counting stats for someone usually hitting out of the nine-hole.

Perhaps most interesting, Taveras fared much better when injuries to Adolis Garcia and others started pushing him up in the order:

Leody Taveras, batting 9th versus not

PA BA RBI Home Runs BB
Batting 9th 353 .229 39 8 18
Batting elsewhere 201 .335 28 6 17

The issue with Taveras is that the Rangers have Wyatt Langford waiting in the wings, and it was just announced that the stud prospect will attend Major League camp in the spring. It’s possible he could play his way into a roster spot out of the gate, but even if not Taveras will remain entrenched at the bottom of the order with a possibility of losing his Center Field job at some point in the season. And there’s nowhere else to play with Evan Carter will play every day in Left, Garcia in Right, and Ezequiel Duran figuring to get playing time as the DH.

Taveras as a switch-hitter seems to fare better from the left side, slashing .275/.318/.767 with all but 2 of his home runs, and a pedestrian .638 batting as a righty. Texas doesn’t platoon often and likes to have the same group in the lineup every day, but barring any injuries Bruce Bochy will have some decisions to make, and most of them will involve Taveras seeing fewer opportunities than last year. He could have a 15-15 season if he does play, but that’s the ceiling and not the floor. Depending on the depth of your league, Taveras can likely stay off your draft boards.

Scott McDermott

Scott lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, two daughters, and a couple of furballs. When he’s not dissecting box scores and pondering over the optimal starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds, he covers fantasy baseball for Pitcher List. He’s also the author of the award-winning book series 'Election 2064', available on Amazon.

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