StrategyMarch 6, 2013

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Texas Rangers

By Urban Cohorts

The Texas Rangers entered 2012 coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. Even with the offseason loss of ace C.J. Wilson, there were high expectations in Texas. The Japanese phenom, Yu Darvish, was brought in to fill the loss. The hitting was solid as usual and the bullpen was revamped. Things were looking good for the Rangers up until their final regular-season matchup against the upstart Athletics. Texas went into the three-game series with a two-game lead over Oakland. They then proceeded to get swept by Oakland, losing the division and being forced into a one game elimination match versus Baltimore. The Rangers lost that game too, despite having home-field advantage and Darvish on the mound.

The Rangers head into 2013 hoping to make the finale of 2012 a distant memory. Accomplishing this won’t be easy as their star, Josh Hamilton, signed with the rival Angels. The AL West is going to be very competitive and the division winner could very well be decided in the final game of the season again.

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C A.J. Pierzynski.278.324.4296827770520w/CWS
1B Mitch Moreland.275.321.4414115501357 
2B Ian Kinsler.256.326.423105197221731 
SS Elvis Andrus.286.349.3788336221711 
3B Adrian Beltre.321.359.56195361021654 
LF David Murphy.304.380.47965166110521 
CF Craig Gentry.304.367.3923112613269 
RF Nelson Cruz.260.319.4608624908642 
DH Lance Berkman.259.381.4441227297w/STL

Unsettled: Center field. Either Craig Gentry or Leonys Martin will be the starting CF for the Texas Rangers. Both of these players offer above average defense. Gentry is a great source of speed though not much else. Martin isn’t as fast but the Cuban refugee has more pop. Whoever has a better spring training will probably take the job.
Target: Lance Berkman. Berkman came over to the Rangers from the Cardinals after missing most of 2012. He will be the everyday DH for the Rangers, and the move from 1B to DH should help to reduce the potential for injury. Despite his age, Berkman still offers decent power, solid contact and an amazing eye. He’ll be hitting in the middle of the order and, if he stays healthy, will definitely outperform his MDP of 249.
The Rotation
Yu Darvish (R)16-93.901.2822189191.1 
Derek Holland (L)12-74.671.2214552175.1 
Matt Harrison (L)18-113.291.2613359213.1 
Alexi Ogando (R)2-03.271.00661766.0 
Colby Lewis (R)16-63.431.089314105.0 

Unsettled: Colby Lewis’s placeholder. The Rangers starting rotation is pretty much set in stone. Yu Darvish will be the Opening Day starter, followed in some order by Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando. Colby Lewis would be the fifth man if not for his forearm injury; he isn’t expected back until the end of May. Justin Grimm is likely the leader to serve as the Lewis placeholder to start the year with Martin Perez out with a forearm fracture, but the Rangers are in the market to add starting pitching as well.
Target: Alexi Ogando. For the second year in a row, Alexi Ogando is the Texas pitcher to target. He had a lot of success in 2011 but was left out of the rotation in 2012, spending the season as a RP and posting great numbers. While Ogando doesn’t strike a ton of guys out, he should sport a K/9 of at least 7.0. Combine this with excellent control and the ability to limit home runs allowed and you have a guy who could be very successful (again) as a starter. The potentially large increase in workload is something to be weary of, but you can’t go wrong with a MDP of 204.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Joe Nathan (R)372.801.06781364.1 
Joakim Soria (R)284.031.28601760.1in 2011

Chasing Saves: Predicting saves is tough business. Coming into 2012, Joe Nathan had everything going against him. He was one year removed from Tommy John surgery. He was an extreme fly ball pitcher who was going into Arlington. He was 37 years old. Despite these red flags, Nathan ended 2012 as one of the better closers in baseball. He completely reversed his GB/FB ratio, decreased his BB/9 and increased his K/9. He shouldn’t be a top closer in 2013 but he proved that he can still get the job done. Behind Nathan is free agent acquisition Joakim Soria, who was a successful closer in Kansas City and should be a fine replacement for Nathan if the need arises.
Final Thoughts
In 2013, the AL West is going to be a three-way battle between some very good teams. The Rangers, Angels and Athletics all have a legitimate chance to win the division title. Even though Josh Hamilton is gone, the hitting in Texas should be fine. The pitching is solid, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. If the Rangers need to add a piece, they can ship off Andrus and start super prospect Jurickson Profar at SS. If the Rangers start off strong and don’t lay another goose egg at the end of the season, we should see them in the playoffs yet again.

Matthew Law is an avid baseball fan living in the greater Boston area. He loves the Red Sox, video games, and the Roman Empire. He has proven to be indestructible- surviving after a truck crashed into a convenience store and hit him dead on.
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