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Texas Rangers Preview


 

The Texas Rangers are the biggest mystery of a team in Major League Baseball going into the 2015 season.  It would be easy to say they are going to be in the cellar of the American League West after finishing with a 67-95 record in 2014 and already losing ace Yu Darvish for the entire season to Tommy John Surgery.  That would be very easy; but not necessarily called for.  This is a team that used a Major League record 64 players last season due to countless injuries.  Several players they projected as starters at the beginning of last season went down with season ending injuries in the first half of last season.  The season was essentially lost before the middle of June.

There are a lot of players returning this season with alleged clean bills of health and there’s a new manager in tow in Jeff Banister.  Pairing this with a really up-for-grabs A.L. West, and this season may not be the disaster many national writers project it to be.  It will take some bounce back performances from the likes of Prince Fielder, Elvis Andrus and Shin Soo Choo, but a winning season where they contend for a division championship or (less likely) wild card spot is within their grasps.  Here are my projections for their starting lineup, starting rotation and closer Neftali Feliz.

  1. CF Leonys Martin: .272 BA, .330 OBP, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 34 Stolen Bases
    Martin is going to get the opportunity to excel in the leadoff spot to start the season. He’s had a solid spring training where he has shown an improved ability to hit left handed pitching.  Expect him to take a measurable step forward this season.
  2. 2B Rougned Odor: .275 BA, .321 OBP, 17 HR, 66 RBI
    Odor earned the starting second baseman position after his performance in his rookie season last year. He showed some impressive signs of power last season and even had 7 triples in just 114 games last year.  Perhaps his overall contact and speed will improve in his second season.
  3. RF Shin-Soo Choo: .280 BA, .380 OBP, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 16 Stolen Bases (3 in 2014)
    Choo was battling many injuries thoughout the season and likely would have shut it down sooner than he did in late August of last year had the Rangers not needed his name/body in the lineup so badly. The Rangers should definitely expect a big time improvement from Choo if he is able to be healthier this year.
  4. 3B Adrian Beltre: .311 BA, 27 HR, 96 RBI, .900+ OPS
    Adrian Beltre wasn’t a Hall of Fame-level player when he arrived in Texas.  He has definitely cemented his status in Cooperstown with four incredible seasons where he has become the face of the Rangers franchise.  He’s had three All-Star seasons and finished in the top 15 of MVP voting (including a 3rd place finish in 2012) in all four seasons in a Ranger uniform.
  5. 1B Prince Fielder: .280 BA, 28 HR, 91 RBI
    Fielder was done for the season by the middle of May last season. Entering this season healthy and rejuvenated, there’s no reason Fielder can’t put up these kinds of numbers with a full season of hitting in Arlington.
  6. DH Mitch Moreland: .247 BA, 9 HR, 42 RBI
    Moreland is the guy I don’t expect to finish the year in the lineup. He has been given countless opportunities to take the next step in his career but has never fully taken advantage.
  7. LF Ryan Rua: .251, 8 HR, 39 RBI
    While Rua won the LF job out of spring training, it would seem that fellow young outfielder Jake Smolinski will eventually overtake Rua for the starting spot.
  8. SS Elvis Andrus: .273, 3 HR, 61 RBI
    This is the first year of his monster extension he agreed to before Opening Day two years ago. Here’s to hoping he has a bounceback year that doesn’t make Rangers management nauseous for giving Andrus that contract.
  9. C Robinson Chirinos: .242 BA, 11 HR, 42 RBI
    Chirinos is a slightly above average starting catcher who will likely get plenty of days off in favor of the other backstop on the roster, Carlos Corporan.

RHP Yovanni Gallardo: 202 IP, 3.72 ERA, 13W-10L
Gallardo won’t be Yu Darvish this year, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a very solid season for Texas.
LHP Derek Holland: 212 IP, 3.30 ERA, 16W-9L
Following his strong performance to end last season, this should be the season Holland solidifies his spot as a premier starting pitcher.
RHP Colby Lewis: 142 IP, 4.65 ERA, 10W-12L
By golly did Lewis fight through some innings last season.  Not necessarily successfully, but he was a guy Ron Washington/Tim Bogar were able to just keep out there to save the bullpen.  He won’t have as long of a leash this season.
LHP Ross Detwiler: 182 IP, 3.77 ERA, 14W-11L
Pitching in the American League and with a set role for the first time in his career, Detwiler should prove to be a very solid rotation arm for the Rangers.  In his one year of 20+ starts, he had a 3.40 ERA back in 2012.
RHP Nick Martinez: 160 IP, 4.22 ERA, 9W-6L
Martinez didn’t exactly get his 24 starts in 2014 because that was the Rangers plan.  Injuries destroyed the team and he was forced to be that #5 guy all year long.  He earned the spot this spring after Darvish’s injury freed up another spot in the rotation.  He should take a few baby steps forward in his sophomore season.

RHP Neftali Feliz: 1.09 WHIP, 2.98 ERA, 36 Saves
Feliz doesn’t have to throw 100 MPH to be a successful closer in this league.  He turns 27 in May and still people act like he is done.  While his stint as closer last year was nerve-wracking at times, it was still great at other times.

Rangers record: 85-77, third in the AL West.  Count me in as one of the optimists about this team.  This team is not a high 60s or low 70s team.  It still has too many solid players to not at least hover around .500 for the year.  In a division without a clear favorite, this team can hang around.

 

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