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Texas Rangers’ Hanser Alberto Excelling in Dominican Winter League


The Texas Rangers signed Hanser Alberto back in 2009, and last season the 23-year-old utility infielder made his Major League debut. Now Alberto is showing he may have big league staying power with his performance in the Dominican Winter League.

On May 27, Alberto was batting .303 on the season in Triple-A after a torrid month of hitting .357 helped raise his average and earn him his first call to the Major Leagues. While the versatile infielder will not provide much pop at the plate, his defensive skills in the field and ability to make contact at the dish could make him a solid utility option for Texas looking ahead to 2016. He has a career .284 minor league batting average and has struck out in less than ten percent of his 2,094 at-bats.

With Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor blocking his positions at the big league level and Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar potentially being obstacles in the minors, Alberto doesn’t look to be getting much regular playing time with the Rangers any time soon.

With that said, he is having quite the season in Winter Ball, batting a league-high .348 through 25 games to go along with a .388 on-base percentage, one homer, 17 RBIs and four steals. His .833 OPS (on-base plus slugging) is currently sixth in the league behind Major League free agent Matt Joyce at .952 and Astros potential first base fill-in Tyler White at .917.

Aside from the home run list, Hanser Alberto’s name shows up near the top in many important categories including RBI (4th) and OBP (4th) to go along with the aforementioned batting average (1st) and OPS (6th). Alberto is staying ready for the 2016 season because he knows there is a decent shot that he will be able to make the Texas Rangers when camp breaks.

If he does make the club, one facet of his game he will have to work on will be his approach at the plate if he wants to work himself into more playing time. Alberto hit just .222 in 104 plate appearances with the Rangers last season. According to FanGraphs, Alberto was down 0-1 to start an at-bat 65.4% of the time and only 52.9% of the pitches he saw went for strikes. While his contact percentage was good (90.3 inside the strike zone) those batted balls didn’t translate into hits very often. Alberto’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) stood at .268 as a member of the Rangers.

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The bright side for Alberto is that he is a solid defender, which could warrant playing time on its own. FanGraphs has Alberto saving eight runs (DRS) above average from second and one above average from shortstop in his limited playing time. Second baseman Rougned Odor has been a lackluster defender, allowing 11 and 7 runs more than average in his first two seasons. Andrus has been all over the place in his career, but last season he was just a tick below average at -1. Baseball Reference had Alberto as a 1.1 dWAR defender last year in 190 innings. If he were to play nine innings in 162 games he would have an 8.44 dWAR. Obviously that much playing time won’t happen, but if he plays in half that amount that is a solid option to have coming off the bench.

The skill set that Alberto brings to the Texas Rangers offsets those of Odor and Andrus nicely, which could turn into some late-inning defensive work for the utility infielder in 2016.