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Texas Rangers 2014 season preview


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2013 Recap

91-72, 2nd in AL West

Another potential late season collapse was somewhat avoided with a seven-game winning streak during the season’s final week. Texas did lead the division for a decent portion of the season. After a sizzling August (20-7), the Rangers fell posted a 12-16 record during the season’s final month.

Sure, they made the postseason, in a sense, dropping a one-game playoff for the AL’s final wild card spot. A few calls for Ron Washington to be sent packing were unanswered as the Rangers inked him to an extension through 2015.

Key Transactions

Additions: 1B Prince Fielder, OF Shin-Soo Choo, C J.P. Arencibia, OF Michael Choice, P Tommy Hanson, P Joe Saunders

Departures: 2B Ian Kinsler, C A.J. Pierzynski, IF/OF Jeff Baker, OF David Murphy, DH/OF Nelson Cruz, P Matt Garza, P Josh Lindblom, P Joe Nathan

Added some thump in getting Fielder from Detroit. I do foresee a bounce back for him.

Payroll

Cot’s Contracts shows the Rangers have $130.9MM committed for this season.  That’s only $6MM more than last year’s Opening Day number. Shouldn’t go any higher unless there’s an arm to add. Maybe Ervin Santana? I can see that if the reports that Santana could settle for a one-year deal.

Player to watch

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Shin-Soo Choo

So were the past two seasons legit? The Rangers had better hope so since they inked him to a seven-year, $130MM deal.

Over those past two seasons, Choo has constructed a triple slash of .284/.399/.452. The majority of that has come as a leadoff hitter. In any season where Choo has played more than 140 games, his lowest OBP is .373 (2012). Let that sink in for a minute. Last season, Rangers leadoff hitters combined for a .336 OBP. Now let that .373 number really sink into your noggin.

Choo faces another position switch as he heads to left field after manning center for the Cincinnati Reds last season. The previous year saw him in right field for the Cleveland Indians. The Rangers should be ecstatic they already have an excellent defensive center fielder in Leonys Martin. Last season Choo’s defense, according to defensive metrics among all qualifying center fielders, was the worst in all of baseball.

Must improve

Jurickson Profar

In 1,532 PA as a minor leaguer, Profar produced a batting average of .276 and a OBP of .367. That’s a far cry from the .231 and .301 respectively he has as a big league player, but he’s only had 341 PA. I think the learning curve has just kicked into a higher gear.

Now’s the time to shine for last year’s #1 overall prospect. The Kinsler trade opened up second base for Profar. Again, he had some struggles at the plate last season, but those struggles could change into fortune knowing he now has an everyday spot. Sometimes that’s all a player needs.

Regression?

Adrian Beltre

How is he producing all those numbers at 34 (he’ll be 35 the first week of April)? Wait. I don’t want to know some of the answers because I have an inkling what a few will say.

Anyway, he led baseball in hits last year with 199. After a handful of seemingly lackluster (or disappointing?) seasons in Seattle, Beltre roared back in 2010 with Boston. Add that season in with the three he has spent in Texas and you have this: .314/.358/.545, 32 HR, 100 RBI per season.

Yikes. That’s some production, but can he keep this up forever? He has to fall back sometime, right? Or is that why he doesn’t like people messing with his cranium? A superstition?

Maybe what I should ask is this: Will Adrian Beltre ever regress?

Question for 2014

Can the starting rotation hold up while the Rangers wait for Harrison and Holland to get healthy?

Harrison has already experienced back stiffness this spring, but he appears to have that issue in hand. He dealt with a bulging disc last season, limiting him to only two starts. It was a bad mattress? Heard that before. Holland had an issue with his pooch and needed surgery on his knee. He’s out until around mid-season.

If Harrison isn’t ready to go at the onset of the season, the Rangers rotation could look like this:

- Yu Darvish
- Alexi Ogando
- Martin Perez
- Joe Saunders
- Tommy Hanson

They also have Colby Lewis, but health is an issue there due to hip surgery he had last August, but this would look more formidable with Harrison and Holland listed. If Harrison is able to start the season with the club and not have any other health issues develop, things should certainly not be as bad.

This team will not go 0-162 despite Ian Kinsler’s recent comments. Then again, I might be taken out of context in regards to any further comments I make, too. Bovada sees the AL West as a tight race with the Rangers, the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They do have the Rangers as the division favorite even though the A’s odds of winning the AL and the World Series are better.

The Davenport projections see Texas at 85-77. That would have them in third place according to those projections (behind Oakland and LA). The over/under on wins is 86.5 (also provided by Bovada), so those are close, maybe for a reason. I’m on the fence about this team making the postseason, but I do lean toward it.

87-75 won’t win this division unless the Rangers, A’s and Angels beat up on each other. And that might be a safe bet.

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