Texas Rangers 2013 Preview

American League infielder Ian Kinsler

The Rangers were one of the favorites to go all the way in 2012. In fact, they were in first place in the AL West all season until the very final game of the season when they lost to the Athletics and fell into a one-game Wild Card playoff against the Orioles—which they lost. Despite big losses over the last two seasons like Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Mike Napoli, Michael Young, and Mike Adams, the Rangers remain one of the top offenses in the league with plenty of exciting young prospects on the way up.

That said, Oakland looks like a legitimate contender while the Angels continue to stock up on high-priced talent, including Hamilton and Wilson. The Rangers are looking at a lot more competition in 2013 than in the past few seasons and unless their prospects develop quickly, we may be seeing a sea change in the AL West. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Ron Washington‘s Rangers in the upcoming season.

2012 Team Rankings:

Wins: 93

Runs: 1st Overall

Batting Average: 3rd Overall

ERA: 16th Overall

WHIP: 9th Overall

Catchers: AJ Pierzynski, Geovany Soto – Grade: B

AJ looked like he was pretty much done in 2010 and 2011 but had a huge bounce back year in 2012 as he batted .278 with 27 HR, 77 RBI, and 68 R. That’s pretty much as good as you will get at catcher and an improvement on what Mike Napoli put up for the Rangers. At 36 it’s tough to imagine that he has more of those types of numbers left in him.

Soto is a horrible hitter (.222 BABIP/.198 AVG) who strikes out way more than any backup should. Bill James projects Soto’s strikeout percentage to be 23.1 percent in 2013. But he has some pop which will keep getting him work in the big leagues. Soto will also catch the majority of games for Yu Darvish—so Soto’s playing time could be directly related to Darvish’s success. Richard Durrett of ESPN noted, “Soto was behind the plate as Darvish made an impressive run down the stretch in 2012, going 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his final eight outings — all quality starts.”

First Base: Mitch Moreland, Lance Berkman, Mike Olt – Grade: C+

Moreland has looked solid over the last two seasons but he is hardly a top-notch first baseman. Over his last two seasons he is batting .265 while averaging 16 HR, 50 RBI, 50 R, and 20 doubles per season and it’s hard to expect him to do more.

Berkman only played in 32 games last season but in 2011 he batted .301 with 31 HR, 94 RBI, and 90 R. He will likely spend the year as the Rangers’ DH which should keep the injury risk down for the 37-year-old.

Olt is the Rangers’ top prospect behind Jurickson Profar and has rocketed through the minors. He was a September call up last year but is expected to be up this year after hitting a ridiculous 28 homers in just 354 at-bats in Double-A last year. There is a lot to be excited about with this kid.

Second Base: Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar – Grade: A

Kinsler didn’t match his 2011 success last year but the 30-year-old is still as good a middle-infielder as you will find. Over his last two seasons he is averaging .256 BA, 26 HR, 74 RBI, 113 R, and 26 SB which is what you should expect in 2013.

At 19, Profar is the seventh top prospect in the country. He has the potential to be a 20-20 guy with a solid average and great OBP and will be one of the youngest players in the league in 2013. Profar is a guy to really get excited about. Bill James projects 16 home runs, 67 RBI, 20 stolen bases and a .264 AVG.

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, Leury Garcia – Grade: B+

Andrus is as good a shortstop as you will find and last season batted .286 with 62 RBI, 85 R, nine triples, and 21 stolen bases. The steals fell off a bit but he is very consistent year-to-year.

Garica hasn’t seen any major league action just yet but he is showing some crazy speed in the minors and will have a chance to make the team in spring training. He isn’t a great hitter and strikes out a lot but he has stolen 30+ bases each of his last three minor league seasons and stole 51 in 2010. Garcia may make a nice utility infielder for the Rangers, but that’s about it.

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Jeff Baker – Grade: A

Beltre rounds out a great infield and is another guy who is as good at his position as you will find. Last season he batted .321 with 36 HR, 102 RBI, and 95 R which is right around where he has been the last three seasons.

Baker played for the Cubs, Tigers, and Braves in 2012 and is now a Ranger. He is a mediocre utility guy a la Mark DeRosa, what is there to say?

Outfield: Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry – Grade: B-

The oft-injured Cruz played a career high 159 games last season but did about as well as he does in his typical 115 game seasons. He batted .260 with 24 HR, 90 RBI, and 86 RBI. He strikes out an awful lot but with Josh Hamilton gone he is the only real power threat in that outfield.

Murphy played a career high 147 games last season and looked very reliable as he batted .304 with 15 HR, 61 RBI, 65 R, 29 2B, and 10 SB. He is a solid all-around outfielder and I expect a similar season in 2013.

Martin is one of the Rangers’ top prospects who has rocketed through the minors. In just 128 minor league games he is batting .323 with 16 HR, 84 RBI, 101 R, and 29 SB and will have a chance to be a big part of the Rangers outfield in 2013.

Gentry looked solid as the Rangers’ fourth outfielder in 2012 as he batted .304 with 31 R, 12 doubles, and 14 SB in 240 at-bats. I wouldn’t expect him to bat over .300 consistently but he has good speed and doesn’t strike out much.

Starting Rotation: Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez, Colby Lewis – Grade: B-

Harrison built on a very good 2011 with a great 2012. In his last two seasons he is 32-20 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.27 WHIP and is looking like a reliable ace for the Rangers going forward.

Darvish wasn’t too consistent throughout the season but still went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He’s a very good strikeout pitcher and doesn’t allow many home runs and could be great if he stays consistent.

Holland wasn’t quite as good in 2012 as he was in 2011 as he went 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA but did put up a 1.22 WHIP. That’s right about where I expect him to be this year as well.

Ogando had a good year in the rotation in 2011 and a good year in the bullpen in 2012 and is now moving back to the starting five. As a starter he went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. As a reliever he put up a 3.27 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Conclusion: he’s a very good pitcher and at 29 he is still growing.

At 21, Perez is the Rangers’ top pitching prospect. At the same time, he has struggled to get his ERA under 4.00 in the minors and has a horrible strikeout-walk ratio. In his first big league action in 2012 he went 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 38 IP but he has plenty of time to develop.

Lewis is recovering from elbow surgery and wont return until at least May, possibly June. In 16 starts last season, Lewis went 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.08 WHIP which is some of the best Lewis we have seen. Wait and see how he returns from reconstructive surgery.

Bullpen: Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor, Robbie Ross, Josh Lindblom, Mark Lowe – Grade: B+

At 37, Nathan had a big bounce back year as he moved from the Twins to Texas. He saved 37 games in 40 chances while putting up a 2.80 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Old or not, Nathan is still one of the best relievers in the game.

Soria missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. After pitching lights out from 2007-2010 (132 SV, 2.01 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), he dropped off in 2011 with seven blown saves in 35 save opportunities, a 4.03 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. It’s hard to tell which Soria we will see as he returns from reconstructive surgery.

The Rangers added Frasor after losing top middle reliever Mike Adams to free agency. Frasor isn’t quite the pitcher he used to be, putting up a 4.12 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 2012. At 35 it’s hard to expect bigger and better things in the future.

Ross looked great in his very first year in the league as he went 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.20 WHIP and looks like a very good reliever.

Lowe and Lindblom are your typical mid-3s ERA relievers but round out a very solid looking bullpen if they all stay healthy.

Team Grade: B+

Fearless Prediction: 91-71, 2nd in AL West

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author avatar
Igor Derysh
Igor Derysh is Editor-at-Large at XN Sports and has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and FantasyPros. He has previously covered sports for COED Magazine, Fantasy Alarm, and Manwall.com. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');

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