The Texas Rangers season has been filled with highs and lows. Along this roller coaster of a ride, there have been some surprises and some disappointments.
As a whole, the Rangers are expected to win the AL West. Yet with the end of the season near, the Rangers trail the Oakland Athletics for sole possession of first place and aren't a lock for the 2013 MLB playoffs.
Setting the expectations high can lead to a big letdown.
One player who has had such high expectations and who has underperformed is Matt Garza. The right-hander acquired at the MLB trade deadline has not fulfilled the role of as a valuable starter for this Rangers staff. Garza has five losses with the club after a 6-1 record with the Cubs.
However, some players have been a big surprise this season. Whether they are coming off injury or they exceeded expectations, these guys have made huge contributions to the team.
Here's a look the Rangers who have surprised and disappointed in the 2013 season.
Joe Nathan's second excellent season in a row is certainly a surprise for the Rangers. The 38-year-old closer should end up with at least 40 saves on the year after earning 37 saves the year before. In 2013, his ERA under 1.60 is vastly greater than 2012's ERA of 2.80.
Nathan wasn't expected to exceed his production from last year.
If you look at his preseason projections, Nathan has surpassed them all. According to RotoChamp, a fantasy baseball draft management software that posts projections, Nathan's composite projected saves were 32 and his composite projected ERA was 3.10. He easily surpassed those expectations.
Nathan also found himself back in the All-Star Game and secured home-field advantage for the AL by earning a save in 2013's rubber match.
Another pitcher who was almost a part of that 2013 MLB All-Star Game and who has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Rangers is Tanner Scheppers.
Scheppers has more than doubled his innings pitched from 2012 and has significantly lowered his ERA. His ERA, around 2.00 this season, is miles better than last year's ERA of 4.45.
Another surprise in the Rangers bullpen is Neal Cotts.
Before this season, Cotts last pitched in MLB in 2009 with the Chicago Cubs. Cotts also wasn't a valuable part of any MLB rotation in his previous tenures. He consistently posted ERAs over 4.00. Except for a great year in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox, Cotts was a non-factor.
In 2013, Cotts is having his best year to date.
He'll end up the season pitching over 50 innings and striking out at least 55 batters. Cotts also has a chance to end up with an ERA lower than 1.09. After coming off an injury and his previous statistical seasons, Cotts is the biggest surprise for the 2013 Rangers.
As highlighted earlier, Matt Garza has been a rather large disappointment for the Rangers.
Garza has already lost three starts in September. During this crunch period, Garza only lasted 4.1 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and four innings at home versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave up nine hits in a 6-5 loss against the Los Angeles Angels.
Garza is 3-5 with a 4.94 ERA since joining the Rangers.
Reid Hanson of Sport DFW believes that trading for Garza was a mistake. The Rangers gave up Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards for Garza, and Hanson highlighted his disapproval of the trade in a September article.
He hasn’t pitched great but the Rangers are losing primarily because of their non-existent offense. Regardless of the reason, the trade so far has been a catastrophic failure. To make it worthwhile the Rangers would need to make a deep playoff run and/or resign Garza to a contract in the offseason.
Garza was traded to help the Rangers solidify a rotation for a deep playoff run. If the Rangers don't make the playoffs while he continues pitch poorly, the trade could be one of the worst in recent history. Why? Garza is a free agent and could sign elsewhere, and the Rangers gave up three young players to get him.
That potentially makes the trade an even more gigantic disappointment
Another player that fits in the category of disappointment is Lance Berkman. While the expectations for Berkman were not at an all-time high, he was expected to make some type of valuable contribution to the team.
Per RotoChamp, Berkman's 2013 composite projections were a .274 batting average, 19 home runs and 67 RBI. Berkman hit the disabled list on July 6 and finally returned in September.
However, his return has been anything but triumphant. He is hitless in 12 at-bats since getting activated and has been benched, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Who has been the biggest disappointment for the Rangers in 2013?
On the year, Berkman has a .242 average with six home runs and 34 RBI.
Expected to replace the likes of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, Berkman's contributions to the Rangers have been a huge failure.
Honorable mentions: Mitch Moreland, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Matt Harrison, Robbie Ross