Previewing The AL West: Texas Rangers

USA TODAY Sports

Caution. Looking directly at Lance Berkman may burn your eyes.

2013 Texas Rangers

How the mighty have fallen? The Rangers seemed poised to be the class of the American League. Repeat AL champions, losing in the World Series to the Cardinals in 7 games. Fast-forward to 2012, the Rangers were swept by the Athletics in the final series of the season. Forcing the Rangers to the new wild card game with the Orioles, the Rangers were out before the playoffs even really started. Now, the Rangers are without Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young. Where do they go from here? Reload with young talent like Jurickson Profar or wonder what could have been, as Josh Hamilton and the Angles take the west.

TEAM OVERVIEW

Manager: Ron Washington (7th season, 520 - 452)

Hitting coach: Dave Magadan

Pitching coach: Mike Maddux

Projected Lineup

1. Ian Kinsler 2B
2. Elvis Andrus SS
3. Lance Berkman DH
4. Adrian Beltre 3B
5. David Murphy LF
6. Nelson Cruz RF
7. A.J. Pierzynski C
8. Mitch Moreland 1B
9. Leonys Martin CF

Rotation

Matt Harrison LHP
Yu Darvish RHP
Derek Holland LHP
Alexi Ogando RHP
Nick Tepesch RHP

Bull Pen

Closer: RHP Joe Nathan

Offseason Additions

Lance Berkman DH
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jeff Baker 3B
Jason Frasor RHP
Joakim Soria RHP

Offseason Losses

Josh Hamilton OF
Mike Napoli C
Michael Young 3B

Comments


The Rangers will need to replace 85 home runs, 251 RBI, 245 runs and 409 hits from Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young. The man tasked with part of this herculean effort is Lance Berkman. Berkman at 37 is more of a lottery ticket, but he will better served in the DH role. The top scoring offense in 2012 will still have Kinsler, Andrus, Beltre, and Cruz. So all is not lost.

Especially if Jurickson Profar gets an early call up, Profar may cause a problem with where to put him in the lineup. But Ian Kinsler has stated from the start of the offseason that he would be willing to move positions to stay in Texas. For now, Leonys Martin has taken over Josh Hamilton's center field duties. Martin, 22, hasn't had much time in the big leagues (46 AB .174/.235/.370 in 2012) but could be an x-factor come playoff time. He had 32 extra base hits in 55 games in the minors in 2012. The Rangers lineup may lack the pop that made them a "lock" for the AL crown the past few years, but they aren't the Astros either.

The Ranges bullpen is still anchored by Joe Nathan, who was solid with 37 saves this past season. Former Royals closer, Joakim Soria, will be slotted in as Nathan's setup man once he returns from the DL. If the Rangers can make it through the first part of the season, the bullpen should line up nicely with Nathan, Soria and Neftali Feliz when all are healthy.

The Rangers failed to land Zack Greinke this offseason, leaving a hole at the top of the rotation. Matt Harrison will be taking the ball on opening day for the Rangers, with a new 5-year, $55 million contract extension. Harrison finished a solid 2012 campaign with a record of 18-11 (3.29 ERA in 213 1/3 innings). Yu Darvish, the Japanese import, was 16-9 (3.90 ERA in 191 1/3 innings). Darvish finished 2012 with 8 quality starts and record of 5-1 and 2.35 ERA. The lack of overall turnover leaves a solid rotation that leads baseball in quality starts with 86. The rotation held the league to a fifth-best .256 batting average. Derek Holland looked strong in the World Baseball Classic. Alexi Ogando has a full year under his belt as a starter, which will serve him well a second time around in the starting rotation.

The Rangers are no longer the hunted, but they are predators in the west. The lineup is still strong enough to put runs up on the board. The pitching staff is sneaky good and I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they were back in the World Series this year.

Projected Win Total

PECOTA Projection: 91-71 (2nd in West)


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