2013 Texas Rangers Season Preview
2012 Season Overview:
The Texas Rangers had another successful season according to their 93-69 record, but if you ask the team whether it was successful or not, they’d disagree due to their 16-17 record in September/October, 3-7 record down the stretch in the last two weeks of the season, losing first place in the division on the last day and then losing a one-game Playoff to the Baltimore Orioles. Not a strong showing coming off back-to-back World Series appearances.
The Rangers again had one of the top offenses in the league rankings second with a .336 wOBA, fifth with a 105 wRC+, second with a .780 OPS, and first in runs scored (808). Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, and David Murphy lead the offense with strong 2012 campaigns.
On the other side, the pitching wasn’t as strong. They were about average ranked 14th in FIP, 11th in xFIP, and 21st in ERA. Rookie, but not really a rookie, Yu Darvish lead the rotation with a 5.1 WAR, 3.25 FIP, 3.52 xFIP, and 10.40 K/9. Hopefully he stays consistent unlike other imports, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo, Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu who came into the league hyped up, but flamed out after a few seasons.
The Rangers will have a lot more challenges along the way this season losing two big offensive players and having the Angels and A’s gearing up for a strong push.
C A.J. Pierzynski, 1B Lance Berkman, RP Joakim Soria, C Geovany Soto
RP Mike Adams, SP Ryan Dempster, OF Josh Hamilton, C/1B Mike Napoli, RP Koji Uehara, 3B Michael Young
The Rangers will come into the season down two big bats (Hamilton, Napoli) and replaced them with A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman, a definite drop in production. A.J. Pierzynski saw his best season since 2003. It’s unlikely that he’ll reproduce those numbers though. But if Lance Berkman can remain healthy, he can closely replace Hamilton’s production.
Taking Hamilton’s spot in center will be the 25-year old Cuban prospect, Leonys Martin. He hasn’t been successful in shorts stints with the Rangers, only 54 AB’s to this point, but with his age he needs to make some strides with his offensive game. He’s shown he can swing hit well while in the minors hitting .323/.388/.503.
Another couple young prospects that could give the offensive a boost are Jurickson Profar (if there’s room for him) and Mike Olt. Both have been highly rated prospects the past few seasons. Profar a shortstop, is blocked by Elvis Andrus, and Olt a third baseman blocked by Adrian Beltre. Many thought the Rangers were going to trade to Andrus to fill Hamilton’s spot to make room for Profar, but that wasn’t the case this offseason.
Other stalwarts that are expected to produce at a high level are of course Adrian Beltre who’s been the Rangers best hitter since signing before the 2011 season and Ian Kinsler, who continues to prove he’s one of the offensive second baseman in baseball.
I expect the Rangers offense to see a drop in production due to the two big losses in their lineup, but still be in top 10 offensively.
The Rangers may not have household names in their rotation, but they’ve got some really quality. Yu Darvish, the ace of the staff, Alexi Ogando (who’s been a reliever most of his career), and Robbie Ross (who was a reliever last year). Matt Harrison is a decent arm, but has had really only one good (2011). People may point to his 18 wins last seasons, but wins are one of the worst stats to judge a pitcher. He had a 4.03 FIP and 4.31 xFIP although a solid 3.8 WAR. Derek Holland rounds out the rotation who is essentially a mid-rotation starter at best, better suited for the back-end of a rotation.
The bullpen lost one of the best set up men in baseball with Mike Adams and a solid arm in Koji Uehara. They did, however, add Joakim Soria coming off Tommy John surgery. An All-Star in 2008 and 2010, Soria has been very successful with the Royals as their closer, converting 160 out of 180 saves (89%) over his five year career.
The bullpen as a whole for the Rangers isn’t that strong outside of Soria and closer Joe Nathan. The middle relievers you’re run of the mill pitchers. Josh Lindblom has the chance to rebound from a not to so pretty stint with the Rangers after being traded from the Dodgers, but outside of him get ready for a rough ride after the starters turn the ball over.