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Texas Rangers: 2014 Season Preview

24 Mar

Standing O Sports is previewing all 30 Major League teams seasons, division by division, team by team. Up next in the American League West is the Texas Rangers.

What Happened Last Season

The Texas Rangers were never quite good enough in 2013. Texas won 91 games, and earned a spot in the one-game wild-card playoff. The Tampa Bay Rays and David Price beat the Rangers 5-2 to advance to the Division Series. Yu Darvish was absolutely brilliant leading the AL in strikeouts with 277, and Adrian Beltre was just as good leading the AL in hits. On the other hand, Nelson Cruz receiving a 50-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis was a killer. The pitching was ravaged by injuries. Colby Lewis missed the entire season, Matt Harrison made just 2 starts all year, and the Rangers simply couldn’t overcome those injuries. Following a notable offseason, the Rangers are looking to get back to the World Series.

Offseason Headlines

  • Acquired Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Ian Kinsler
  • Signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a 7-year $130 million dollar deal
  • Signed pitchers Daniel Bard, Armando Galarraga and Tommy Hanson to minor league contracts
  • Lost Nelson Cruz who signed with the Orioles as a free agent

Take: Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels was desperate to find a replacement for Josh Hamilton, and he found that man in Prince Fielder.  Daniels also made a splash by bringing in Shin-Soo Choo who is an on-base machine.  Other than that, Daniels made a bunch of low-risk high reward moves by bringing in Daniel Bard, Tommy Hanson, and Armando Galarraga.  Hanson and Bard both have a vast amount of talent, but for whatever reason, haven’t been able to get it together.  Ever since Jim Joyce missed the play at first base that would have given Galarraga a perfect game, he hasn’t been the same.  Overall, the offense has been upgraded, but how the pitching shapes up remains highly unclear.

Projected Lineup

Shin-Soo Choo (LF)
Elvis Andrus (SS)
Prince Fielder (1B)
Adrian Beltre (3B)
Alex Rios (RF)
Mitch Moreland (DH)
Geovany Soto (C)
Jurickson Profar (2B)
Leonys Martin (CF)

Breakdown: Shin-Soo Choo doesn’t have the speed of a typical leadoff hitter, but he certainly fits the mold. Choo gets on base, and that’s all you can ask of your leadoff hitter.  Last season, he finished with the 4th highest on-base percentage in all of baseball.  Elivs Andrus is talented number 2 hitter, but needs to hit for a higher average.  He did score 91 runs last season which is very good.  The biggest difference from last year’s lineup to this year’s lineup is Prince Fielder.  Fielder had a down year in Detroit, and a move to hitter friendly Ballpark in Arlington should get him back on track.  Adrian Beltre can flat-out rake at the clean-up spot.  Alex Rios is a nice player in the 5-hole and can be penciled in for 15-20 home-runs and 70-80 RBIs.    Mitch Moreland received a ton of criticism for his .232 average and .299 on-base percentage in 2013.  He can occasionally turn around a fastball, but doesn’t do much else.  After Moreland is Geovany Soto is looking to return to his solid form he had with the Cubs.  At the end of the lineup is Jurickson Profar who’s as talented as they come, and Leonys Martin who did a respectable job filling in for the suspended Nelson Cruz.

Projected Pitching Rotation

Yu Darvish
Martin Perez
Joe Saunders
Tommy Hanson
Tanner Scheppers

Aside from Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers pitching rotation is far from a sure thing.  Martin Perez is just 22 and took a nice step forward in 2013.  Joe Saunders had a bad 2013 with the Mariners.  He finished was a record of 11-16 and a 5.26 ERA.  Texas will be relying on Saunders to get back on track in 2014.  Tommy Hanson has gotten worse and worse every season he’s been in the big leagues, and Tanner Scheppers appears to be making the leap from the bullpen to the starting rotation.  Scheppers is the classic case of someone who dominated in the bullpen and a team thinks he should be a starter.  These things don’t usually end well (Think Joba Chamberlain).

X-Factor: Starting Rotation

The Rangers have one of the least reliable starting rotations in all of baseball.  Martin Perez and Tanner Scheppers both have a ton of talent, but are both unproven.  Then there’s Joe Saunders and Tommy Hanson who were both abysmal last season.  Texas’s offense will get the job done, but this team isn’t going anywhere if the pitching rotation struggles.

Season Outlook

In the 2011 World Series, the Texas Rangers were one out away from winning it all.  Since then, the team has taken a step back every year.  As the 2014 season gets set to commence, the Rangers starting rotation doesn’t look to be strong enough to get them back to where they want to go.  Look for the Rangers to take another step back in 2014.

Prediction

Frankel: 83-79 (3rd in AL West)

 
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Posted by on 03/24/2014 in MLB

 

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