clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

AL West Preview: Texas Rangers

The Rangers find themselves at a crossroads after suffering through a disaster of a season last year.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

AL West Previews: Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland AthleticsHouston Astros

At a Glance:

Rangers (2014)

Batting (wRC+)

89 (15th in AL)

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-26.7 (10th)

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

115 (15th)

Bullpen (FIP-)

99 (10th)

Key Additions: OF Ryan Ludwick, RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Ross Detwiler

Key Losses: OF Alex Rios

Back in 2012, after their third postseason appearance in a row—including two World Series appearances—the Rangers seemed like they were going to sit atop the AL West standings for years to come. Yu Darvish made his wildly successful major league debut as part of the third best starting rotation in the AL and the Rangers' offense was the fourth best in the majors. Fast forward just two years and the Rangers find themselves at a crossroads. Everything that could have gone wrong for the organization has gone worse than imaginable. After suffering through an incredible amount of injuries last year, Darvish has already been lost for this season and Prince Fielder's future is murky at best after major neck surgery. This is a team that has a few decent pieces but no depth to their roster.

The Rangers didn't make many additions this offseason because many of their reinforcements were returning from injury. Fielder, Derek Holland, and Shin-Soo Choo should all be healthy enough this year and will fill some of the gaps that were exposed last year. That won't be enough to patch up all the holes (not to mention the new one that opened up when Darvish was lost). FanGraphs is projecting a 74-88 record, dead last in the American League.

Projected Lineup

C Robinson Chirinos
1B Prince Fielder
2B Rougned Odor
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Ryan Rua
CF Leonys Martin
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Mitch Moreland

Getting Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo back makes this offense pretty decent—they're projected to score the seventh most runs per game in the majors. Leonys Martin has developed into a solid center fielder who quietly put up 3.5 WAR last year. If he's able to push his ISO back to his previous career norms (a .090 ISO last year), he should be a league average hitter who plays excellent defense and creates runs with his legs. When Jurickson Profar injured his shoulder before last year began, many were wondering who would fill the hole at second base. At just 20-years-old, Rougned Odor stepped in and capably manned second base for most of last year. Many are picking him as a breakout candidate this year and he'll be given every chance to prove them right. His double play partner is another story. Elvis Andrus averaged 3.2 WAR for five years before posting just 1.1 WAR last year. For the first time in his career, he graded out as a below average fielder and he just couldn't find a way to get on base. A bounce back season from him would go a long way towards pushing this team towards respectability.

Projected Rotation

#1 Derek Holland
#2 Yovani Gallardo
#3 Colby Lewis
#4 Ross Detwiler
#5 Nick Tepesch

Now that Yu Darvish won't be headlining the Rangers' rotation, this group looks very weak. Derek Holland just recently made his spring debut and may not be ready for the start of the season. Instead, Yovani Gallardo will probably take the hill for the Rangers on Opening Day. Gallardo was acquired from the Brewers this offseason but he just isn't the pitcher he used to be anymore. A sharply declining strikeout rate and trouble with the long ball have turned him into a league average pitcher. When Holland is able to return from his injury woes, he should have the most upside in this rotation. In 2013, Holland seemingly figured everything out on his way to a 4.2 WAR season but he was lost for most of last year after a freak knee injury.

The rest of the rotation looks like it'll be a rotating door of mediocrity. Colby Lewis and Ross Detwiler are the veterans holding the third and fourth spots while the fifth spot is up for grabs. Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez saw time in the majors last year but neither should provide anywhere close to average production. Martin Perez and Matt Harrison may make cameo appearances later in the year as they work back from serious injuries. Top prospect Alex Gonzalez is the lone bright spot, though he'll probably spend most of the year in Triple-A.


The Rangers have had too many things go wrong to even think about challenging for a Wild Card spot, much less the division title. They have too much salary wrapped up in too many players that a full rebuild is off the table, too. They have a few great pieces to build around but too many holes to fill. This is an organization that's stuck between a rock and a hard place and will have to make a number of hard decisions about their future. The Mariners play the Rangers 19 times this year, ten times at home and nine times in Texas. Despite all of their misery last year, the Rangers were able to win 10 of 19 against the Mariners. That will have to change if the Mariners want to make the division race an easier proposition.