When the Texas Rangers lost Yu Darvish for the year before the season began in 2015, most assumed that the they would have a lost season. Texas proved that they were here to play by winning 88 games and the AL West in 2015 with that less than healthy roster. Now heading into the new season, Yu is on the mend, Cole Hamels will be on the team for a full year, and it looks like there are several stud prospects ready to come up and contribute if and when they are needed. It's safe to say that the Rangers should be expected to comete.
Ian Desmond, Tom Wilhelmsen, Ike Davis, Patrick Kivlehan, Justin Ruggiano, Tony Barnette, Michael McKenry, Pedro Ciriaco, Frandy Delarosa, James Jones, Jordan Danks, Garrett Weber, Cesar Ramos, AJ Griffin, Myles Jaye
Leonys Martin, Kyle Blanks, Mike Napoli, Will Venable, Yovanni Gallardo, Spencer Patton, Anthony Bass, Lisalverto Bonillo, Antoan Richardson, Nick Tepesch, Ross Ohlendorf, Carlos Corporan
Biggest Strength - Offense
Last season the Rangers were 3rd in the MLB in runs scored despite the fact that some of their bigger name players didn't look like they had super impressive years. The fact of the matter here is that this lineup does not have a single weak spot and the bench and minor league options they have can all produce as well. On top of that, Texas picked up Ian Desmond this year, who could definitely help bolster an already good offense as long as he doesn't revert to whatever he was doing last season. Elvis Andrus might actually need to watch himself at shortstop if they decide to call up either Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, or Nomar Mazara to play outfield at some point. Desmond, who has played shortstop his entire MLB career, is slated to play left field for the Rangers. Let's also not forget how good Adrian Beltre is. People have written him off a bit due to his age (entering age 37 season), but he showed that he can still hit at an elite level in the second half last year.
Biggest Weakness - Starting Pitching Depth
The Rangers have two very solid starters in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, both of whom are good enough to be considered number one pitchers. After that, there are lots of options, none of which are very intriguing. People have been high on Derek Holland for a long time, but he hasn't performed that well in the time that he's actually been healthy. which has been not very much time at all. The young guys who have a chance to make the team include Martin Perez, Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez. These are guys who Rangers fans are excited about, but the numbers just don't look very good and shouldn't be expected to make a big impact. There's always a chance that one or two of them can take a big step forward and make a solid number 3 guy, but for now it will probably be Colby Lewis, who had a consistent year last year, but probably isn't a good enough pitcher to feel good about potentially starting him in a playoff game. Overall, this team could definitely use another starting pitcher or two to get them over the hump to be a legitimate contender for the World Series.
Something To Keep An Eye On - MLB Ready Big Name Prospects
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are some fairly large name prospects on the brink of making their MLB impact right now. The most well known one, Joey Gallo, made a bit of a splash last season when he got the call, but his strikout rate was too high for him to stay in the bigs. He has hopefully worked on his approach to cut the number down a bit and make it back. Gallo likely has the most power of anyone in the entire minor leagues in any organization, so he has a chance to be a super star. When he comes up, he could play his natural position of third base, or he can fill in at first or outfield if it is needed.
Two guys who need to be on radars at this point as well are Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson. Mazara, who is just 20 years old, profiles to be a huge power potential corner outfielder. He compares to Carlos Gonzalez, but is a larger version. Brinson, on the other hand, looks like he is good enough to hold down center field, and he has all the tools. He could profile as a 5-tool guy who should consistently put up 20/20 seasons with a good average. Both could be game changers for the Rangers sooner rather than later.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Delino DeShields Jr. - CF
- Shin-Soo Choo* - RF
- Prince Fielder* - DH
- Adrian Beltre - 3B
- Mitch Moreland* - 1B
- Ian Desmond - LF
- Rougned Odor* - 2B
- Robinson Chirinos - C
- Elvis Andrus - SS
Chris Gimenez, Hanser Alberto, Ryan Rua, Justin Ruggiano
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Cole Hamels*
- Derek Holland*
- Colby Lewis
- Martin Perez*
- Nick Martinez
Shawn Tolleson - Closer, Keone Kela, Tom Wilhelmsen, Jake Diekman*, Sam Dyson, Sam Freeman*, Tony Barnette
Injured to start the year
Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton*, Tanner Scheppers
Fantasy Bargain - Adrian Beltre
At the age of 36, Beltre put up a very good second half of the season last year. Everyone knows a decline is eventually coming, but he finished the year strong, so there's a good chance he will at least start strong this year. With third base as thin as it is, Beltre still has pretty good value. He will likely out-perform his average draft position near 70.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Rougned Odor
Odor has been hyped for a few years now because he is an energy player who is a ton of fun to watch and he's only 22. While those statements are true, they don't make for the best fantasy player every time. It's always smart to try to take a step back from the emotions when drafting a fantasy team that needs to consistently produce all year. While Odor will likely go on many hot streaks this year, he will probably also go through many slumps, and you end up with an end line production somewhere in the middle. Last year he had a wRC+ of 105, which means he was 5% better than league average as a hitter and he was the 14th best hitter at the second base position. Because of his age, you can expect a bit of an improvement on that, but don't expect too much. Odor has had trouble making consistent contact, so while he has the potential to hit 20 homers, he also has the potential to have an on base percentage under .300. This is not a smart player to reach for in drafts, but he shouldn't be undrafted either.
The Rangers are good. They also play in what is possibly the weakest division in baseball. Because of this, they should like their chances of getting into the playoffs and winning the division. Not only is this team built to win now, but they also have young up and coming talent that should make them a team that can win for years to come. In 2016, Texas should win around 93 games, and have a chance to be the best team in the American League.