2016 Recap: 95-87, First in the AL West. Lost 3-0 to Toronto in the ALDS. It was a wild and crazy season for the Texas Rangers. Rougned Odor’s right hook started a new rivalry with the Blue Jays, All-Star catcher Jonathan LuCroy was acquired at the trade deadline, and unfortunately first baseman Prince Fielder was forced to retire to due to injury. All of that was just over the course of a few summer months. The Rangers won the A.L. West for the second consecutive season and for the fourth time since 2010, but are still without a World Series after being swept by their new rivals from Canada. The Rangers stayed pretty quiet this offseason and look poised to make another run at October in 2017.
Significant Additions: RHP Andrew Cashner, 1B Mike Napoli, RHP Tyson Ross
Significant Subtractions: 1B Mitch Moreland, OF Ian Desmond, OF Carlos Beltran, LHP Derek Holland
Projected Lineup and breakdown:
- CF Carlos Gomez
- DH Shin-Soo Choo
- 3B Adrian Beltre
- 1B Mike Napoli
- 2B Rougned Odor
- C Jonathan Lucroy
- RF Nomar Mazara
- SS Elvis Andrus
- LF Jurickson Profar
Texas scored the fourth most runs in the American League and finished with the fourth best batting average in the A.L. last season and looking at this lineup there is no reason those results won’t be repeatable in 2017. You could argue the weakest link in this stacked lineup is actually their projected leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez. After making the All Star team back to back seasons with Milwaukee, Gomez had an injury plagued 2015 and was just flat out bad in 2016 with Houston hitting just .210. After coming to Texas late in 2016, Gomez hit .284 with 8 homers in 33 games. If that success continues, this lineup has best in the league potential. If Gomez’s second half doesn’t repeat, he could quickly find himself on the bench as Texas is one of the deeper organizations in the league right now even after dipping into last trade deadline to acquire LuCroy and Carlos Beltran.
Projected rotation, bullpen and breakdown:
- LHP Cole Hamels
- RHP Yu Darvish
- LHP Martin Perez
- RHP Andrew Cashner
- RHP AJ Griffin
- RHP Sam Dyson – Closer
- RHP Matt Bush
- RHP Jeremy Jeffress
- RHP Keone Kela
- LHP Alex Claudio
I’m pretty skeptical about this Texas rotation. There is no depth at all behind Hamels and Darvish unless free agent Tyson Ross can return to his pre injury form and make real contributions to this team. Even Hamels and Darvish have their question marks in my eyes. It might be nothing, but Hamels making 30+ starts for nine consecutive seasons could be catching up to him as he had a career high walk rate last season (3.45 BB/9), the third straight season that number has risen. Darvish was good last season coming back from Tommy John surgery, but 17 starts isn’t enough to make me think he is out of the woods yet. If anything major happens to Hamels or Darvish, this team is in big trouble and could miss the playoffs all together. I love the backend of this Texas bullpen. The Rangers have four guys they can rely on in a big situation and even though Sam Dyson had a nice 2016 they have plenty of options to close out games if he were to struggle. Righty Matt Bush is one of the best stories in baseball right now as he battled his own demons to finally make his big league debut at age 30 last season.
Stud: 3B Adrian Beltre. Who doesn’t love Adrian Beltre? At age 37, he is still one of the best hitters in the league (just do not touch his head whatever you do). In six seasons with Texas, Beltre has a .308 average and averages 28 home runs a season. You just do not find steady production like this at his age. Grab Beltre in the early rounds this year and you will not be disappointed.
Sleeper: OF Nomar Mazara. It’s rare that a rookie of the year contender comes into the next season undervalued, but that appears to be the case with Mazara. Maybe it’s the difference in batting average between the first half and second half (.282 first half, .242 second half) that is driving Mazara’s price down, but it’s rare to find a player with his pedigree and a full season of 20 homers already under his belt at this low of a draft price. Mazara is just inside the top 50 outfielders at 48th overall, with a few more homers this year Mazara could easily finish as top 25 outfielder and be considered a draft day steal by seasons end.
Bust: 1B Mike Napoli. Napoli came out of nowhere to club a career high 34 home runs for Cleveland last season despite not having more than 24 in season since 2011. Napoli also played a career high 150 games last at age 34, I’m skeptical as well that he can repeat that feat as well. I’m not completely shying away from Napoli in drafts has he is still going well outside the top 150 players, but I’m also tempering my expectations if I end up with Napoli on any of my teams this spring.
2017 record prediction: Despite having some serious questions about their starting rotation, there is no denying the Texas lineup and bullpen. The Astros could quickly catch them without Texas really falling back much, but I’ll take Texas to win the division once again in 2017. 94-88. 1st in the AL West.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo Credit: Richard Rodriguez/ Star Telegram
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/3
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC