The Texas Rangers has a difficult 2017 winning 78 games, and finishing with a 4.60ERA and .244 team average. The Rangers feel like a team that could maybe ruin some teams’ seasons and surprise people in 2018. Do they have a complete roster? No, but they definitely have pieces that could have comeback seasons and allow this team to compete. They have future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre in the lineup surrounded by a few erratic but powerful bats. Their rotation could have guys eat quality innings if all goes well and they have a half decent pen. Things look like they’ll go similar to 2017 but who knows, you can’t predict baseball!
Yu Darvish, RHP
Andrew Cashner, RHP
Carlos Gomas, OF
Jonathon Lucroy, C
Bartolo Colon, RHP
Matt Moore, LHP
Mike Minor, LHP
Doug Fister, RHP
Trevor Plouffe, 1B/3B
Why they can win: The Rangers are a weird team. They have 6 possible 20 homerun bats in their lineup so we know that they’ll score a good amount of runs. Adrian Beltre just keeps hitting, Joey Gallo is pure power, Andrus has become a better hitter than we thought and Nomar Mazara is a breakout candidate. If all goes well they could have a productive middle of the order and maybe someone else like Choo and/or Odor can have big years like in the past. They have a Rookie of the Year candidate in Willie Calhoun who could produce some offense for them but much like their lineup, they have guys who have had big years in the past. Every starter in their rotation has posted a 13+ win season with a sub 3.50 ERA in their career. Are they all at that point in their career? No, but if it’s done by any of them it’d be a huge boost.
Why they can lose: Their staff is average and aging so it’s possible a few fall apart. Colon and Fister can’t be relied on to carry a rotation and Hamels isn’t a number 1 anymore. The lineup, although it hit the third most homers, isn’t as productive as it should be for crushing the ball like that. They struggle to get on base a little and even with those HR they were the league average in OPS. Joey Gallo could strike out 3,000 times, Beltre could show signs of aging, I don’t think Tim Lincecum will be the savior and maybe Willie Calhoun can’t adjust to the Majors.
Bottom Line: They’re one of the most average teams in the majors. They’re projected at 79 wins and that’s exactly how I feel about them. Good enough to do some damage and be top 5 in homeruns but I don’t see a pitcher in their rotation being a number 1 (or 2) type starter and they’ll run into good lineups with the Astros, Angels and Mariners a lot. I’m sure Odor will hit 25 and punch someone in the face but they don’t have the consistency or depth to keep up in a stacked top half of the AL.
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Adrian Beltre, 3B
This isn’t a spot for career achievement, as Beltre certainly deserves to be listed among that top players on the Rangers (and the best in our opinion). In 94 games, Beltre hit .312 with 17 HR and 71 RBIs, which projected out to be only the fourth time in his illustrious career that he would’ve reached 30 & 100 in the same season. At 38, you wouldn’t expect Beltre to be adding or improving his game, but last season he posted his career high in BB%, while posting a K% below his career average. That is very impressive and helped contribute to a stellar 3.1 WAR, along with his always above average defense at the hot corner, 6 DRS. Even with a large salary ($18M), he still projects to provide a surplus on his contract, as long as he posts a 2+ WAR. He surpassed that mark in every season since 2001. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s been 17 years since he posted a below average season…
Sinkhole: Rougned Odor, 2B
You can look at Odor’s 2017 season in two ways: he hit 30 HRs and 15 SBs (good), or look at every other one of his batting stats (bad). Odor was a dud, as hit K% hit 25, and his walk rate held near his career average of 4.2%. He is a hyper aggressive swinger who swings at a ton of balls outside his miniscule strike zone (38.3%). He posted the worst wRC+ and OBP of all qualified batters (61, .252), as he was in the company of light-hitting Alcides Escobar and Jose Peraza. Let’s just put it this way, Joey Votto’s OBP was almost double Odor’s. Woof. So his 30 home runs came at the expense of any productivity at the plate. There is some light in hopes of Odor’s game: his .227 BABIP almost has to turn around, he did have a decently high amount of hard-hit contact (36.7%). As for his defense, advanced metrics were split as DRS had him as a positive contributor (3), and UZR/150 had him at (-4.5). The long term extension his signed prior to 2017 looked like a team-friendly contract at the time (6/$49.5M), but one year in it is looking like it may be a costly one.
Regression Candidate: Elvis Andrus, SS
Beltre’s partner on the left side of the infield posted, arguably, his best season of his career. In addition to a 4.1 WAR, he clubbed 20 HRs (12 above his previous career best), and stole 25 bases. Also, he posted his first positive DRS in the past four season (3). But, there are some signs that point to a regression. First, even in the juiced ball era, beating your career high in HRs by two-and-a-half times is just insane, not to mention doubling his HR/FB rate. It is very hard to imagine that train continuing. Also, he posted career worsts in K% (14.7), and worst BB% (5.5), which suggest he was becoming a bit more reckless in order to boost his power. And even with the added power, his wRC+ was actually lower than in 2016. Andrus should be a solid player for the Rangers in 2018, but does not seem like a 4+ WAR player. Hot take: Andrus hits less than a dozen HRs and posts a WAR equal or less than 2.
Impact Acquisition: Mike Minor, SP/RP
Minor had a tremendous return from Tommy John as a reliever for the Royals. He posted the 9th highest WAR of all relievers (2.1), a 2.55 ERA, and elite 21.5% K-BB rate. In shorter stints, his fastball velocity rose 4 MPH and it’ll be interesting to see how he maintains that as a starter for the Rangers. Being a starter is not new to Minor, as he was a starter for his whole career leading up to 2017 and he has experienced varying levels of success in the role. He was strictly a FB/SL pitcher as a reliever and it’ll be interesting to see if he can get a feel for curve and change when having to use them during second and third times through lineups. For 3/$28M, it seems like an educated gamble for the Rangers. If he fails as a starter, his elite numbers in the back end of the Royals could help a bullpen that is desperate for quality late innings.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Leodys Tavares, OF (34)
Willie Calhoun, OF (53)
Juan Pablo Martinez, OF (70)
Hans Crouse, RHP
Why We Love Them:To me, they’re the epitome of a 2018 team. Hit a zillion homers and strikeout a ton. I love that they smoke the ball and I love Cole Hamels and Colon is absolute jokes now. The plans for their new stadium look unbelievable but the only true thing to love about the Rangers is the fact that Beltre is one of the funnest guys to watch play.