AL West Preview: Texas Rangers
Gone are the days of Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder and the like for the Rangers. Even Yu Darvish has since become a Cub. After finishing with a 78-84 record in 2017 (as did the Mariners) the Rangers look to sure things up this year.
The Rangers will open up the 2018 campaign at home against the Astros. Cole Hamels will toe the rubber, matching up with Justin Verlander. The Opening Day lineup will include the usual suspects of Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre as well as Joey Gallo, Delino Deshields. Robinson Chirinos, Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor.
Speaking of Odor, he is an interesting case. Along with being my least favorite player in the game, Odor’s 2017 numbers were not in his usual range. He his just .204 with a .252 OBP, however he did mash 30 home runs. Is Odor the next Adam Dunn? No, however it would seem that he sold out for power in 2017 after hitting 33 long balls in 2016. He was worth -0.2 WAR last year and we could see him garner less at bats in 2018, giving way to Jurickson Profar every now and again.
Profar has never been given much of a chance in the bigs, both due to injury and lack of roster space. He’s come to the plate only 718 times in his four-year career. Profar is hitting .308 in 39 at bats prior to the game on March 18th. I remember going to a game in Peoria back in 2013 during the WBC where Profar played for the Netherlands team.
After the game, the horde of people trying to get a Jurickson Profar autograph was insane. People were pushing each other, cramming against the fence and i could swear that a fight was about to break out. Such is the life when you’re a top prospect. Now however, Profar will be playing the season at the still young age of 25.
Maybe the most interesting addition made by the Rangers during the offseason is Washington Native Tim Lincecum. After a hiatus over the past few years along with a failed comeback attempt, Lincecum seems to be posed for a bullpen spot. Depending on what happens with Matt Bush, Lincecum could push for the closer spot. I had hoped that Timmy would stay home and sign with Seattle. However, he will be given a much better opportunity in Texas.
The now 33-year-old owns a career 3.74 ERA and won 2 Cy Young Awards with Giants. As of March 8th, it is reported that Lincecum is dealing with a personal matter. This could put his status for opening day in question.
I was going to try to not talk too much about the M’s in this post, however when talking about the Rangers, one can’t NOT talk about Kyle Seager. Seager owns a .316/.359/.557 slash line in Globe Life Park along with 12 home runs. The M’s visit Texas for the first time on April 20th and Kyle will look to continue his hot trends.
Willie Calhoun will start the season in AAA. But it would not be surprising to see him up and in LF before the All Star break. Joey Gallo had a huge year in 2017 and looks to build on that in 2018. Texas is kind of stuck in that middle-of-the-road purgatory that the M’s have been caught in for so long. They will be breaking in a new ballpark in 2020 known as Globe Life Field instead of Globe Life Park. Hopefully Kyle can mash there too.
As for 2018, the Rangers have some work to do. They traded Darvish last year leaving Cole Hamels as the lone ace. Martin Perez, Mike Minor and Matt Moore will follow him as well as one of Matt Moore, Bartolo Colon, Jesse Chavez and Matt Bush in the mix for a rotation spot. Health has been a concern for the Rangers, especially for Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo.
Next: Los Angeles Angels Preview
The team does not look as strong as it has in years past and they will likely be competing for a Wild Card. If i had to make a prediction, Id say that the Rangers fall off towards the end of the year and they find themselves 4th in the AL West behind the Mariners, Astros and Angels.