Ridaught: Wyatt Langford – “Nobody works harder, nobody plays harder”

Texas Rangers' outfielder Wyatt Langford earned American League Rookie of the Month honors for his June performance.
Texas Rangers' outfielder Wyatt Langford was named the American League Rookie of the Month for the month of June.
Courtesy of Texas Rangers

Former Gator baseball star Wyatt Langford is heating up.

The Texas Rangers rookie has caught fire since returning from a hamstring strain.

In his first 129 major league plate appearances before the injury, which spanned three weeks in May, the Trenton native slashed just .224/.295/.293.

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Since then, he became the youngest Rangers rookie ever (22 years old) to hit for the cycle (June 30 vs. the Baltimore Orioles), hit his first career outside-the-park home run (June 18 vs. the New York Mets), hit his first grand slam (June 22 vs. the Kansas City Royals), and earned American League Rookie of the Month honors.

According to Texas Rangers reporter Shawn McFarland of the Dallas Morning News, of his 45 batted balls that’ve carried an exit velocity of 100-plus mph this season, 25 came in the month of June.

He slashed .309/.368/.526 with three home runs in June and led all AL rookies in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS (.894), RBIs (22), extra base hits (12) and total bases (51).

On April 28 against the Cincinnati Reds, Langford gave the Rangers’ fan base something to get excited about when he hit an inside-the-park home run, the first home run of his MLB career.

“I’m a fan too, trust me,” Rangers’ manager Bruce Bochy told 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “I’m in that dugout, and he’s somebody I love watching. I love the way he gets down the line. He’s always thinking double or triple, and he’s just fun to watch play the game.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Langford is the first rookie in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to collect an inside-the-park home run, grand slam and a cycle in a single season.

And he did it in his first 60 games.

“For him to accomplish what he did, those three things to be the first time ever in a player’s first year, that’s incredible,” Bochy said. “I could never think of hitting an inside-the-parker and hitting for the cycle. But it just shows you some amazing things this guy can do and not just with the bat.”

Langford, an early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, became the 11th player in franchise history to hit for the cycle. His cycle was the first by any player in the 35-year history of Sunday Night Baseball.

In addition to the triple to start the cycle, he turned a routine single into a double with his speed and he also beat out a ground ball to shortstop for an infield hit.

“He’s always thinking double,” Bochy said. “Even the ground ball base hits, infielders think they have plenty of time and he beats them out. He’s a powerful runner too. He powers his way. Some guys are gliders, but he’s got such strong legs. I look at Bo Jackson, somebody like that, they were powerful runners, or like Mike Trout. So that’s who he is.”

In his last 10 games, Langford, who was selected fourth overall in last year’s MLB Draft, is batting .389 (14-for-36) with three doubles, a triple and a home run.

That includes a 4-hit performance in a 13-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

But it’s not just his offense.

He robbed the Padres’ Ha-Seong Kim of a home run 
on July 4 and also threw out a runner at home plate.

“He’s a complete baseball player,” Bochy said. “He just gets it. He’s got a passion for the game, nobody works harder, nobody plays harder. I think he’s gonna be a plus outfielder. He’s doing a great job there now.”

It’s the type of effort that just might get the Rangers, who are 42-48 and third in the AL West heading into tonight’s game at the Los Angeles Angels, back in the pennant race.

“I’m not surprised at the beginning,” Bochy said. “Yeah, he’s trying to find his way, you’re always gonna have some growing pains with young players, but this guy’s gonna have a tremendous career. He’s a plus runner. He’s one of the fastest guys in the game. So we’re lucky to have him. He’s one of those exciting players. I certainly would buy a ticket to watch him play.”

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