The phrase “World Series hangover” is both overused and underused in Major League Baseball. It seems like we are quick to acknowledge it when the defending champs are going through struggles, but we ignore its existence when that team continues to be excellent the following season. This year, though, it definitely applies.

The Texas Rangers, coming off their first World Series in club history, are currently 24-27, having dropped 10 of their last 12 games. They're under .500 for the first time in Bruce Bochy's brief tenure as manager, the offense is nowhere close to reaching its stratospheric heights of a season ago and the pitching staff has been ravaged with injuries, losing another hugely important arm in Jon Gray Thursday night. If they weren't wearing brand-new diamond-encrusted rings, we'd say this was just a middling baseball team.

So when frustrated Rangers fans turn on their TVs to watch these losses pile up, who are the players making their hairs turn gray? These aren't just the most underwhelming players for the 2024 Rangers, but those for whom the fans feel no optimism moving forward. Perhaps one could even say these are the players who are not Deep in the Heart(s) of Texas.

Nathaniel Lowe, 1B

It might not be widely known by the baseball public because of how bad the team was, but Nathaniel Lowe was a machine in 2022. He put up an .851 OPS with 27 home runs and won the Silver Slugger at first base in the American League over the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Only 26 years old at the time, it looked like his career might be headed towards stardom, but that doesn't quite seem to be playing out.

After being named a 2023 All-Star along with six of his teammates, Lowe struggled pretty badly in both the second half and postseason a year ago. This season, he's still not regaining his vintage form. Though his .735 OPS is above league average thanks to the overall offensive environment, he's neither a power threat nor an RBI generator. And unlike Corey Seager, who everyone knew would come out of his slump eventually, he's yet to go through extended hot or cold stretches.

It seems like this might just be who Lowe is now and that puts the Rangers in a difficult position. He's not a bad MLB hitter, but the premise of this lineup being great is centered around him being a solid middle-of-the-order bat. And Rangers fans won't enjoy seeing his name on the lineup graphic for long if this is truly the best he can do.

Andrew Heaney, SP

 Texas Rangers pitcher Andrew Heaney (44) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It's been an up-and-down career for Andrew Heaney, who has had stretches of both dominance and extreme struggle. At times he's looked like a top-of-the-rotation starter and at others, he's pitched so poorly he's been chased out of town. In 2024, the struggles haven't quite been that egregious, but he's pretty clearly been the Rangers' worst starter.

After allowing nine hits in just 3.1 innings in the Rangers' loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, Heaney fell to 0-6 on the season—the most losses of any MLB starter without a win so far. His 4.69 ERA would rank 12th-worst if he had the innings pitched to qualify and he hasn't missed a start, so that lack of innings has been hugely taxing on the Rangers' bullpen.

With so many injuries to the Rangers' starting staff, both the ones we knew about before the season and the ones that have transpired since, it would have been a massive lift for Texas to get consistent performances from Heaney. And in a way, he has been consistent, but not in the way anyone would have hoped. He's simply got to find a way to go deeper into games and turn his high-strikeout stuff into converting more outs.

Jose Leclerc, RP

Rangers fans definitely didn't see this one coming, which only makes it hurt more. After Jose Leclerc stabilized the Texas bullpen in the 2023 postseason, it was pretty fair to assume he would continue to be serviceable as the team's closer in 2024. But instead, he's been downright awful and unfortunately, the bullpen is now anything but stable.

With a 6.41 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and -0.7 bWAR in just 19.2 innings, Leclerc has legitimately been one of the worst relievers in all of baseball. He had never been a team's closer in the regular season before, so in hindsight, perhaps he shouldn't have been expected to take to that role. But he's struggled in any and all situations he's been inserted into and as a result, the Rangers as a team have one of the worst bullpens in the league. That almost kept them out of the playoffs altogether last year, so it had better get fixed quickly.

Evan Carter/Wyatt Langford

The Rangers weren't just supposed to run back the same offense from a season ago. They were supposed to be invigorated by a youthful surge, with two rookies becoming stars instantly for one of the league's best teams. Unfortunately, neither Evan Carter nor Wyatt Langford has delivered on the promises of their preseason hype.

We saw Carter shine as a fresh September callup in the playoffs and it seemed like nothing could faze him. It's been shocking to see him go through an extended slump at the plate, dragging his season average all the way down to .197. Meanwhile, Langford has landed on the injured list, but wasn't hitting at all before his injury, either. He was touted as a prodigious all-around hitter, but thus far has yet to hit a home run over a fence in a regular season game.

Obviously, this article is not a condemnation of either of these rookies' career potential for the Rangers moving forward. They were two of the top six preseason prospects in MLB for a reason and as with any young players, there has to be a grace period in dealing with struggles. But the Rangers were not-so-secretly planning for both of these two to be so big-league ready that the struggles would be negligible. They haven't performed up to the roles carved out for them and it's not crazy to think either or both might need a demotion to AAA at some point to fully get themselves back on track.