Home Ballpark: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
2014 Finish: 67-95 · 5th AL West
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 76.5 · Under
What We Love:
Adrian Beltre: It seems almost a lifetime ago that Beltre mashed 48 HR with the Dodgers, but that was only 11 years ago (wow). Remember when he parlayed that season into a monstrous free agent contract in Seattle, only to have people question if he had anything left in his tank after the contract expired? Remember how he silenced those same critics by putting up a (near) career year in Boston (.321/28/102) after signing a one year deal? How about how he established himself as one of the premier 3B in the game after four straight dominant seasons in Texas?
During his four year tenure in the Lone Star State, Beltre has hit .315/117/376 in 589 games, made three All Star teams, won two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2012. Not too shabby for a guy who seemed to be in decline following his days in Seattle (2008). Besides raking at the plate and playing exceptional defense in the field, Beltre has also managed to play himself into the Hall of Fame conversation. Beltre currently sits with a .285 career average, 395 HR, 2604 hits and four Gold Gloves; those numbers alone are borderline Hall of Fame worthy. Now factor in that Beltre could feasibly play another 3-5 years and perhaps reach 450 career HR and 3000 hits. How does this guy not get into Cooperstown?
- Seeing Prince smash baseballs (again): The Big Man only hit 3 HR in 150 AB in his Texas debut before being shut down for the season to undergo spinal fusion surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. When healthy, Fielder is among the elite power threats in MLB and his power should play well in his home field.
- Top of the order: RF Choo, SS Andrus, 1B Fielder and 3B Beltre.
- Joey Gallo’s power: Rangers top prospect might have best power in the minor leagues, having hit 104 HR in three minor league seasons.
- Watching Beltre LOSE IT when someone touches his head: Just don’t do it!
What We Hate:
Depth of Starting Rotation: Even before receiving the (disastrous) news that rotation ace, Yu Darvish, would be lost for the entire 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery, the Rangers were already being faced with a pretty thin starting rotation. Aside from the injury to Darvish, the Rangers also have starters, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, currently sitting on the shelf with injuries. Perez will be out until mid season as he recovers from his own Tommy John surgery, while Matt Harrison, who was originally rumoured to have his career ended by injury, could potentially return by mid season as he battles back from lumbar spinal disk fusion surgery.
Heading into 2015, the Rangers will look to LHP Derek Holland to anchor the rotation, although Holland too has struggled to stay healthy and has spent time on the DL. Yovanni Gallardo was brought in from Milwaukee via trade, but with a diminishing fastball and strikeout rate who knows what to expect from the new arrival. The backend of the rotation doesn’t get much better as it will be rounded out by the trio of RHP Colby Lewis, LHP Ross Detwiler and RHP Nick Tepesch. There is also a possibility that top pitching prospect, Jake Thompson, who was acquired from Detroit for RP Joakim Soria, could make an appearance in the rotation at some point during the season.
- Yu Darvish’s Torn UCL: Rotation implications aside, Tommy John surgery for the Rangers ace will prevent fans from seeing one of the best in the game until mid 2016 (at the earliest).
- Bottom of the order: DH Mitch Moreland has the most offensive upside after the top of the order. After him, things could get bleak. The lineup should be rounded out by the likes of LF Jake Smolinski, CF Leonys Martin, 2B Rougned Odor and C Robinson Chirinos.
- Remaining contracts of Fielder, Choo and Andrus: Fielder will get a princely sum of $24mil per year through 2020, Choo will get $20mil a season through 2020 and Andrus will make $15mil a season through 2020.
- Jurrickson Profar’s days as a top prospect: Two years removed from being the consensus best prospect in baseball, Rangers fans will have to wait until 2016 to see their former elite prospect back on the field after suffering (another) shoulder injury.
- On the DL: Rangers set a MLB record in 2014 when their players spent a combined 2116 days on the Disabled List.
Player to Watch: 1B Prince Fielder. It is really hard to get a pulse on what type of player Prince will be following his return from spinal fusion surgery. While the Rangers, and baseball fans far and wide, will hope to see the big man return to his old ball crushing ways, there will be no guarantees that he returns to his former dominance. As a batter, Fielder puts every possible ounce of energy he has into each and every swing. This, in turn, could be extremely dangerous and detrimental to the injury, and subsequent surgery, that cost him his 2014. Even more concerning, is knowing that there is a possibility that the spinal surgery could cause further regression and force Fielder from the game early; similar to what happened to his father, Cecil. Personally, even as a Blue Jays fan, I hope that the big man comes back better than ever. MLB is that more exciting when Prince is mashing.
Top Pitching Prospect: Jake Thompson · RHP · MLB ETA: 2015
Top Positional Prospect: Joey Gallo · 3B · MLB ETA: 2015
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=tex
Final Prediction: 5th AL West