The Texas Rangers, the “local” rivals of the Astros, had a fairly interesting offseason a year ago, marked by the trade of Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, who promptly missed 120 games with a neck injury that required surgery. Meanwhile, Kinsler had an all-star season. The Rangers were the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention in early September and a USA Today article was highlighted by the fact that 2015 “can’t possibly be worse”.
The Texas Rangers were the second worst team in baseball last season, finishing three games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were still the ninth best supported team, with an average of 33,564 tickets being sold for their games at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The team was let down by poor performances from some players, many of whom it would have been reasonable to expect better from. J.P. Arencibia ended the season with .177/.239/.369 (BA/OBP/SLG). Alex Rios gave them .280 BA (above his career average) .311/.398 and a measly 0.5 WAR. Scott Baker ended the season with 3 wins and a 5.47 ERA.
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They were let down, too, by misfortune: The Rangers, of course, ended the season with the following injury list: Fielder, Yu Darvish, Shin-Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez. Derek Holland also spent time on the sidelines with injury, although he returned for the last two months of the season.
They still have Adrian Beltre. They still have Elvis Andrus. Rougned Odor showed promise and they still have a strong-to-promising farm system, led by Joey Gallo, who hit 42 minor league home runs in 2014 with Myrtle Beach and Frisco.
ESPN’s Buster Olney in an “Insider” article, ranked their infield as top-10 in the majors, perhaps higher if Fielder can return to his form of previous seasons.
There are signs that the Rangers are happy to stick with the core of starters they employed last year, not least the fact that until recently, no major transactions had taken place.
They brought in their first major acquisition on January 19th with the trade of three minor leaguers to Milwaukee for Yovani Gallardo, native of Fort Worth. Gerry Fraley, writing in the Dallas Morning News, has speculated that they could raid their farm system in order to land Cole Hamels, a move that would give them a strong rotation, but one that he speculates is outside their financial means.
There is every reason to suspect that the Rangers, if they can avoid the injuries that marred their 2014 season, could be back to challenge in the AL West. Certainly, they have the talent to do so and, in Darvish, one of the deadliest arms in baseball. With a little luck on their side, they could be in contention in the A.L. West this season.
Read Ryan Gonzalez on the Astros offseason grade here.