The 30-team preview consisting of 60 articles total by Robert and myself is finally over! Well, after you read Roberts piece on the Rangers and mine right now. Then it will officially be over. I hope you enjoyed it and that it helped at least a little bit.
Pretty soon all of this speculation will turn into reality and we can be like "Yeah buddy, we made it! We got the championship! Woohoo!" or even "Aww man, this sucks, I am in last place. Thanks a lot Kenneth!!"
We finish up the previews with the Rangers of Texas. The Rangers of Texas are on a mission to be the Buffalo Bills of baseball. Nolan Ryan has guided this team (no he hasn't) to back-to-back World Series, only to fall short of winning the whole thing which gives Texas as many titles over the last two years as the Royals, Pirates, and Mariners. Actually, it still gives them zero World Series titles, which means that the Mariners and Rangers still have that in common!
On the bright side, Texas has a lot of money, a lot of TV money, a lot of fan money, and so they've used all of that money to put more good baseball on the field year after year. Thanks to a deep farm system that has produced a lot of talent, the Rangers got good and then they used that "got good-ness" on resources that have been used on guys like Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish. The Rangers lost CJ Wilson, but they got a younger starting pitcher that could very well be much, much better than Wilson.
The Rangers have more than a couple fantasy studs this year and this is the time of the article now when I talk about them so let's talk about them.
Best Hitter: Ian Kinsler
This is a tough one, only because Josh Hamilton should be, arguably, the best hitter in baseball. He could be a .330/.400/.600 hitter with 35 HR/20 SB, and all the trappings that come with numbers like that. It's unfortunate that you can't count on his health and that he's got personal demons that will follow him no matter where he goes. I root for Josh Hamilton (even as a Mariners fan, you don't want to see a person go through what he's gone through) but from a fantasy perspective, you've got to have skepticism. Ian Kinsler is just the safer bet.
Kinsler put together a fantastic 2011: .255/.355/.477, 32 HR, 121 R, 77 RBI, 30 SB, .370 wOBA. He did that on a .243 BABIP. He struck out less than 10% of the time. He walked 12.3% of the time. He plays second base. You take those numbers all day, every day.
Overall, this lineup is still loaded, with Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz all being everyday fantasy starters. You could argue for Beltre because he plays third, too. You could argue Napoli as a catcher. Kinsler is just the safest bet for me.
Best Pitcher: Yu Darvish
Why the hell not? C.J. Wilson was the best pitcher on this team and now he's gone. Colby Lewis is decent. Derek Holland is decent. Neftali Feliz should be interesting. But Darvish could be excellent. Darvish could be an All-Star, an ace, he could strike out 220 batters. He's that good.
Potential Breakout: Neftali Feliz
It took a few years, but Feliz is finally joining the rotation. I don't know if that's good news or simply because Feliz wasn't as dominating last year, so they might as well try him out as a starter. He posted a 4.27 xFIP because his strikeouts dipped to 7.80 per nine and his walks spiked to 4.33 per nine. Not good numbers. He's still pretty difficult to hit though and that kept his ERA at 2.74.
You can't stretch him out too far though. Even in the minors his most innings in a season was 127.1 and that was four years ago. You're probably looking at a serious innings limit and he might be a 5 inning starter to begin with. If he can stay healthy and stretch out, you might get a strikeout per inning, dealing with walks at around 3.50 and an ERA in the mid-3.00's. That's okay. That's breakout-worthy.
Potential Disappointment: Napoli, Darvish, Feliz, Hamilton
Napoli: The power is reasonable (.312 ISO wasn't even a career high) but the .320/.414/.631 is absurd. I wouldn't expect that again.
Darvish: Because we really don't know.
Feliz: Because we really don't know.
Hamilton: As said in the first section.
Prospect Watch: Per BA
We've talked about Darvish to death.
Jurickson Profar is the #7 prospect in the game and could be #1 next year. A SS with speed and power that will cause some hand-forcing on the Rangers middle infield (maybe) in two years. A good problem to have.
Perez is the #31 prospect in the game. Don't let the 6.43 ERA in 10 AAA starts fool you... Perez was only 20 years old. He could possibly be up at some point this year and don't be surprised if he dominated and forces Feliz back to the bullpen... or something.
Olt was a 1st round pick in 2010. He's 23 but he'll probably spend the whole year in the minors as he hasn't played above high-A yet and there's this guy named Beltre.
Leonys still has some work to do to refine his raw tools into power tools and working tools. The kind of tools that help you build bridges and Ikea furniture. Wait, Ikea furniture is like, no tools, right? I don't shop at Ikea.
Neil Ramirez is also pretty good. He struck out 119 in 98 innings across three levels last year. He was far too good for Myrtle Beach, where he struck out 9 in 4.2 innings.
Cody Buckel struck out 120 in 96.2 innings and could fly up prospect lists this year with Ramirez. The Rangers have a lot of good prospects still and could be active on the trade market this year because of it. Villanueva could be a quick mover too after stealing 32 and hitting 17 HR in 126 single-A games.
Rougned Odor is a funny name.
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