MLB Team News & Rumors: Texas

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Texas Rangers

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Texas Rangers Team Projection

The Rangers missed the playoffs in 2013 for the first time in 4 seasons. They have won 90 or more games in each year during that stretch. Texas scored only 730 runs (7th in the AL), which was 78 runs less than last year and their lowest total since 1995. Additionally, they finished 6th in HR's and 2nd in stolen bases. The Rangers were 4th in the AL in ERA (3.61) and strikeouts (1309). Texas tried to upgrade their offense by trading 2B Ian Kinsler for 1B Prince Fielder, plus they signed free agent OF Shin-Soo Choo and C J.P. Arencibia. Their bullpen has a chance to be very good with P Neftali Feliz expected to return as closer. The Rangers did lose SP Derek Holland for possibly half the season with a knee injury that required surgery. Texas should have the services of P Matt Harrison and P Colby Lewis after both pitchers missed most of last season due to injuries. This team will have an explosive offense with a solid starting staff and upside bullpen, but they can't win the AL West without beating the A's in September (2-10 over the last 2 seasons - 17-21 overall). Last year, the Rangers were 31 games over .500 against the Astros (17-2), Angels (15-4), and Seattle (12-7), but they were 12 games under .500 against everyone else. Texas should be the favorite to win the AL West.

1. SS Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus fantasy baseball

This year, Andrus may finally get a chance to bat leadoff. He continues to show no upside in power and has one of the weakest AVH scores (1.22) in the game. His RBI totals have been inflated by plus chances (also helped by plus at bats). Elvis has decent size and may develop power, but his low FB rate (22.4% in 2013 - 21.4% during his career) suggests he isn't ready to make that step forward. Andrus hit most of his fly balls to right center where they have no chance of leaving the park. Furthermore, he has had a high GB rate (56.3) during his career. Last year, he had almost the same success against RH (.270) and LH (.273) pitching. After hitting no HR's in his first 449 at bats over 4+ months, Elvis hit 4 HR's in his last 171 at bats. He had a spike in RBI's (34) in August and September. Over the last 3 months of the season, Andrus hit .301 with 4 HR's, 39 RBI, and 25 SB's. His K rate (13.9%) was slightly above his career average, while his walk rate (7.5%) has declined over the last 3 years. Elvis really doesn't have the ideal skill set to bat lead off due to a lack of walks, but the Rangers team structure set up well with him at the top of the lineup. By hitting Choo 2nd, Andrus' speed will open up the right side of the infield when he is on base. This gives Shin-Soo more room to hit a ground ball through the infield (plus Choo takes plenty of pitches). In turn, this will allow Andrus to steal more bases. I don't trust that Andrus will have a breakout season in terms of power, but he has upside in batting average, SB's, and runs. He is a young player that has shown to have durability and he has even more upside. I see his first 200 hit season, which leads to a .300+ average with 60+ steals.

2. OF Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo fantasy baseball

Texas signed him to a 7-year, $130 million contract in December. Last year, his walk rate (15.7%) was a career high by a wide margin, while his K rate (18.7%) approached his career low (18.3% in 2010 - 20.9% during his career). Choo was very good against RH pitching (.317 with .457 OB % and .554 SLG %), hitting all 21 of his HR's against righties. Over the past 2 years, his skill set against lefties has been Judy-esque (.206 with 2 HR's and 21 RBI in 387 at bats). A fantasy player would be better off benching him against lefties. Over the past 2 years, Shin-Soo has been much more of a GB hitter (49.4%) with a short FB rate (29.4%). His HR/FB rate (16.4%) was a career high in 2013. Last year, Choo was on base 300 times (led the league in HBP - 26), which gives a player behind him a huge RBI chance. I think it makes sense to get him closer to the power bats in the middle of the lineup by hitting him 2nd. His success batting would be much improved with Andrus on first base 200+ times in front of him, plus it would increase the value of his possible HR's. Over the past 2 seasons, Choo has come to the plate with short RBI chances (650), which is 127 less than Andrus. 2014 is a great opportunity for Choo, especially if Texas gives him a better chance at driving in runs. He has a 20/20 skill set with upside, and I see 100+ runs scored with a chance at 75+ RBI. I fear the high HPB as it could result in an injury.

3. OF Alex Rios

Alex Rios fantasy baseball

When I look at the Rangers lineup, I'm torn where Texas will hit Rios. He isn't as strong as an RBI man as Beltre, but he has much more speed . I think it would make more sense for the Rangers to keep the speed together by hitting Rios 3rd. This would create more space on the right side of the infield for Fielder when Alex is on first. Plus Beltre would add more protection behind Fielder. Last year, Rios had a career high 42 SB's. His K rate (15.2%) was his best since 2012, but his walk rate (4.6%) came in short of his previous 2 years. Rios was a better hitter against LH pitching (.313 with a .524 SLG %). He stole 16 bases in his 186 at bats with Texas. Overall, Alex only hit .268 in the Rangers Ballpark with 1 HR and 15 RBI in 112 at bats in 2013. Rios has never had over 434 RBI chances during his career. He has 20/80/20 skill set with upside in batting average, SB's and RBI.

4. 1B Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder fantasy baseball

Fielder has averaged 111 RBI over the last 7 years due to his plus RBI chances. Last year, he came to the plate with a major league high 536 runners on base. Over the past 5 years, Prince has hit with 2346 runners on base (469 per season). Overall, he hasn't been an elite run producer (16%) as far as success rate. His K rate (16.4%) spiked up, but it was still below his career average (17.5%). Furthermore, his walk rate (10.5%) was much shorter hitting behind Cabrera than it was with the Brewers (over 15% in 2009 through 2011). Last year, he was a better hitter against LH pitching (.292). Fielder had 7 HR's in April last season with 27 RBI, but only hit 18 HR's with 79 RBI over his last 531 at bats. His HR/FB rate (13.5%) was a career low in 2013. Prince has only hit .265 in 49 at bats with 4 HR's and 15 RBI in the Rangers ball park. Fielder had success in Detroit, but his power regressed. This year, he has 40+ HR upside with the move to Texas. He has consistently had plus RBI chances during his career and that trend should continue in 2014. His approach at the plate regressed slightly in 2013, but I expect it to rebound this year. Prince has 130 RBI potential hitting in this lineup.

5. 3B Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre fantasy baseball

Beltre is on the path to reach the Hall of Fame. He only needs 574 hits to reach 3000. Adrian has hit 30+ HR's in each of his last 3 seasons. Additionally, he has hit 20 or more HR's 11 times during his career and has 401 RBI over the last 4 seasons. His K rate (11.3%) was his 2nd lowest of his career and it is in an elite area for a power hitter. His walk rate (7.3%) was his highest since 2004, but it has been short during his entire career. Beltre had plus RBI chances (451) in 2013, but was only league average driving in runs (15%). He has been slightly better over his entire career (16%), but this number falls short of the top run producers in the game. Adrian has hit over .300 against both RH (.316) and LH (.310) pitching over the past 4 years. Beltre is a rock solid major league bat with a .300, 30/100 skill set. His speed looks like a thing of the past, but he may have the most RBI chances of his career in 2014.

6. DH Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland fantasy baseball

Moreland could be a very intriguing hitter in 2014 due to the depth of the Rangers lineup. Last year, he set a career high in HR's (23) and RBI (60), but his batting average was a career low due to a spike in his K rate (22.6% - career high). His walk rate (8.7%) did show some growth. Mitch hasn't had many at bats against lefties during his career (.236 with 7 HR's and 36 RBI in 318 at bats). Last year, he struggled more with righties (.227 with 20 HR's and 46 RBI). His success against LH pitching (.241 with 3 HR's and 14 RBI in 141 at bats) did improve slightly in 2013. Last season, he only hit .195 over the last 4 months of the season with 12 HR's and 34 RBI in 176 at bats. Moreland was a .314 career hitter in the minors with a low K rate (14.1%). He appears to have little competition for at bats against LH pitching, so Mitch could have the most at bats of his career in the majors. With some growth at the plate, Moreland may be in position for an 25/80 season with a much higher batting average. Nice power flyer in an AL only league and he will have value as a DH in deep 15-team leagues.

7. 2B Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar fantasy baseball

Profar had a solid opportunity to have success in 2013, but he wasn't ready. Texas cleared his path for full time at bats in the offseason by sending Ian Kinsler to Detroit. Profar is a very talented player, but he lacks size at this point of his career. His batting average was only .276 during his minor league career, but he did a very good job of taking walks (11.6%) with a low K rate (13.8%). In the majors last year, Jurickson made less contact (19.4% K rate) with a shorter walk rate (8.0%). He really struggled against LH pitching (.188 with a .250 SLG %). Profar hit under .230 in each of the last 4 months of the year. Jurickson had 34 HR's and 53 SB's during his 1306 career minor league at bats. His skill set is the strongest on the Rangers to bat leadoff, but he'll need time develop. Profar is expected to be a perennial .300 hitter with possible a 20/30 skill set when he adds more strength to his frame. This year, I expect him to make a nice step forward to hit double digit HR's with 20+ SB's and a neutral batting average. Possible top 15 second baseman in 2014, but he has downside risk in 4 categories.

8. C Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto fantasy baseball

Soto is expected to be the starting catcher for the Rangers in 2013. His K rate (32.6%) was a career high and it was actually higher than Arencibia's. Also, his walk rate (10.9%) was just below his career average. Geovany hit .272 against RH pitching with 6 HR's and 15 RBI in 103 at bats, but only hit .182 against righties in 2012. Last year, Soto had the highest FB rate (45.6%) of his career, which led to his highest HR/FB rate (19.1%) since 2006. Overall, his skill set has shown signs of decline. Last year, it appeared he tried to hit for more power, which led to a huge spike in his strikeouts. With full time at bats, his swing may come around where it has 20 HR upside. Arencibia is going to get in the way at times, so 2014 may not be an easy ride for Soto. Possible upside C2 in deep leagues, but he isn't a lock to get 400 at bats.

9. OF Leonys Martin

Leonys Martin fantasy baseball

Martin had a nice season in 2103, showing plus speed with some pop. His K rate (20.5%) is a bit high and his walk rate (5.5%) is short. He was much better against RH pitching (.275 with 7 HR's - .226 against lefties with only 1 HR in 133 at bats). Leonys also hit better at home (.289 - .230 on the road), but had more power on the road (5 HR's). His speed emerged after April (no SB's). Martin struggled to make contact over the last 3 months of the year (.238), but his RBI production was very good in August and September (29). Leonys is a GB hitter (50.9%) with a short FB rate (28.1%). Martin hit .323 during his short minor league career with 16 HR's, 84 RBI, and 29 SB's in 533 at bats. His power has more upside and his speed was in line with his minor league success, with the exception of an improved success rate. Additionally, his approach was much stronger in the minors (12.8% K rate and 8.4% walk rate). Overall, his skill set should continue to improve in the majors. With the present structure of the Rangers, he has no real shot of moving up in the lineup without an injury. Leonys has double digit power with 40 SB upside, but his runs and RBI's will be short due to low chances.

10. C J.P. Arencibia

J.P. Arencibia fantasy baseball

Arencibia is what he is: a swing and miss power hitter. His K rate (29.8%) has been high during his entire career and his walk rate (3.6% - career low) is declining. He has 62 HR's over his last 3 seasons (1264 at bats - 1 HR for every 20.4 at bats). J.P. has struggled with both RH (.207) and LH (.225) pitching during his career. Overall, he has more power against lefties (20 HR's in 347 at bats). Last year, he crushed 8 HR's in April, but his 2:37 BB:K ratio was a clear sign of future failure. Arencibia hit .221 before the All Star break with 16 HR's and 42 RBI. His lack of contact led to less playing over the 2nd half of the year (.145 with 5 HR's and 13 RBI in 166 at bats). This year, he will compete for at bats with Geovany Soto. J.P has the weaker skill set, so he'll have to power his way into more playing time. He has 20 HR upside with 400+ at bats and extreme batting average risk.

11. MI Adam Rosales

He is expected to be the utility middle infielder in 2014.

12. OF Michael Choice

He is a career .290 hitter in the minors with 61 HR's, 255 RBI, and 21 SB's in 1445 at bats. Choice was traded to the Rangers in the offseason for Craig Gentry. Michael will compete for the 4th outfield slot in Texas. Choice has upside in power and may see time at DH against LH pitching.

13. OF Engel Beltre

He is expected to take over Gentry's role on the roster. Beltre has 147 career steals in the minors with a .264 batting average and 47 HR's in 3033 at bats. Beltre is a low upside player with no chance of becoming a regular player on the Rangers.


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