Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Texas Rangers

prince fielder

The Texas Rangers came from nowhere to win the AL West last season. With many people writing off their season after the loss of Yu Darvish, the Rangers started slowly before finishing like an express train to win the division. They added the familiar face of Mike Napoli and the long-coveted arm of Cole Hamels in their push to make it back to the world series. But a series of defensive errors cost them in the deciding game of their divisional series with Toronto to end their season.

In the offseason they have lost a solid arm in Yovani Gallardo, an experienced first baseman in Mike Napoli and their back-up outfielder in Leonys Martin. None of these make a real blip on the fantasy radar and their departures shouldn’t really affect too much how the Rangers will do this year. The big addition is Ian Desmond, who is looking likely to shift to the outfield and offers a fantastic boost with some good hitting potential. They also added Tom Wilhelmsen and Justin Ruggiano, but neither are headline makers. Perhaps the biggest additions they could get this year are the return of Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar from injury to add depth to a shaky looking squad beyond the stars.

The real excitement of this team lies in the potential re-enforcements they could get this year from a stacked farm system. There is a whole fresh outfield in waiting who we could see this year if they need the boost and hopefully there will also be Profar stalking and waiting for a chance in that infield.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

 

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Delino DeShields Jr.
  2. Shin-Soo Choo
  3. Prince Fielder
  4. Adrian Beltre
  5. Mitch Moreland (vs RH), Justin Ruggiano (vs LH)
  6. Ian Desmond
  7. Rougned Odor
  8. Elvis Andrus
  9. Robinson Chirinos

Prince Fielder, DH

Fielder put up numbers closer to what we are used to from him in his second year in Texas. Coming off neck surgery, Fielder was a bit of an unknown last season but after a healthy off season he comes into 2016 with the potential for a really nice season. He hit 23 homers last season at a 0.305 batting average and I think he is somewhere in that neighbourhood once again but with a little bit of batting average regression to around 0.290. Batting third in a reasonably decent batting order should give him plenty of opportunity to put up close to 180 combined runs and RBI. The only downside to Fielder this year is that in many leagues he is DH-only so he fills up your Util spot. Countering that, however, is the fact he is going after pick 60 in most leagues and I have him projected to put up similar results to most of the top five first baseman who are going in the first round. I am happy to take a talented hitter like Fielder at the end of the fifth/ start of the sixth, even if it is filling up my Util spot.

Adrian Beltre, 3B

Can Beltre be the guy he was in the second half of 2015 or will age catch up to him in 2016?

Can Beltre be the guy he was in the second half of 2015 or will age catch up to him in 2016?

Beltre struggled with a couple of injuries last year but still managed to play an impressive 143 games. However, his home run total fell again from 19 to 18, having dropped down from three years of 30-plus homers between 2011 and 2013. Perhaps the bigger worry is that his batting average also dropped from 0.324 to 0.287, but a lot of that comes from a bad start and then an injury hit June. He hit 10 of his 19 homers in the last two months whilst hitting 0.326 and slugging over 0.520. If Beltre is the hitter he was in the final two months in 2016 then my projections of 21 homers at a 0.290 batting average a fair bit below what he can potentially be. However, at age 37 there is a chance age has caught up to him and will damage his performance and durability. Currently he is going as the 9th third baseman off the board in the mid-80’s on average, which I feel is about the right place for me to grab my starting third baseman if I missed out on the elite three or Frazier .

Delino DeShields, OF

I loved the upside that DeShields offered last year especially with his bonus second base eligibility, and I was handsomely rewarded with 25 steals and 83 runs from the speedster. With the potential that he is going to bat at the top of this order all year he could easily top last year’s numbers when it comes to runs and steals. I have him projected generously for 30-plus steals thanks to the sheer number of plate appearances I see him getting. I think his average could regress a little down to the 0.250 region, and that scares me. But at the 61st outfielder off the board on average, at pick 215 I am happy to take that gamble for a guy that could give me 30 steals and 90-plus runs if everything clicks.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

Choo has had two polar opposite season as a Ranger, with a 13 homer 0.242 average season in 2014 followed by a 22 homer 0.276 average last season. I think we see something that bridges that gap a little in 2016 with something close to 18-20 homers at a 0.260 average. Second in the line-up should mean he sees plenty of opportunities to score runs whilst also getting some good RBI numbers and a handful of steals. However, at pick 140 I think he is a bit expensive considering I have him projected to end the year close to Melky Cabrera, Kevin Kiermaier and Gerardo Parra who can all be got later than him.

Rougned Odor, 2B

Odor has a ton of upside but can he avoid the bad start he had in 2015?

Odor has a ton of upside but can he avoid the bad start he had in 2015?

Before a ball has been hit in anger we are already seeing Odor creep up this batting order thanks to the injury to Hamilton. Currently projected to bat 7th adds some value to a guy who was projected to bat 8th or potentially even 9th, but I still think you have to pay a high price for a guy who had two very contrasting parts to his season last year. Odor is currently going 96th overall as the 9th second baseman off the board, but my projections of 16 homers, eight steals 0.262 average with 120 combined runs and RBI have him outside my top 15 second baseman. I will happily miss out on Odor this year and watch someone else deal with what I envisage to be another up and down year for the 22-year-old.

Elvis Andrus, SS

Andrus is Mr. consistency for the Rangers as he allows them to put him in at short day in day out, and they know come end of the season they will have had a great defender who hasn’t embarrassed himself at the plate. Last year Andrus hit a career high seven homers to go with 25 steals and end the season with decent stats for fantasy owners at this barren position. In 2016 Andrus offers some potential safety at a bad position. I feel safe projecting he will be in and around the top 10 at the position come the end of the season and for pick 150 overall I wouldn’t be too upset with a five homer, 25-30 steal player who puts up a 0.260 average and 120 combined runs and RBI. There are shortstops I like more who can be had later, but if I just want to deal with the position and get that safety, Andrus is my guy.

Ian Desmond, SS

I love this move for fantasy purposes but it baffles me from a real life angle. Desmond moves to a hitter friendly situation and gets to play in a less demanding position, potentially left field, in a pretty stacked line-up. He had a tough 2015 but a lot of that seemed to stem from his issues in the field affecting his confidence. Desmond is a legitimate 20/20 guy but that upside comes with batting average risk, 0.240 being about the right level. Batting 6th in this line-up should give him the opportunity to score 120-130 runs and RBI with the potential he could go even higher in the line-up. Desmond’s draft value is going to fluctuate now but I have him as a top 10 shortstop right now so it will just be a case of seeing how he fits into your draft.

Any Other Business?

  • Mitch Moreland, 1B: Moreland’s value took a massive hit with the signing of Ian Desmond which reduced him from a virtually every day player to a potential platoon candidate at first base. Moreland has 20 homer upside if he can get enough AB’s but I don’t know if we see him get enough to realise it.
  • Robinson Chirinos, C: A real low end two catcher league guy who can hit 10-15 homers but will do so at a really nasty average.

Projected Rotation

  1. Cole Hamels
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Colby Lewis
  4. Martin Perez
  5. Nick Martinez

DL: Yu Darvish

Cole Hamels

Can Hamels be a top fantasy pitcher in hitter friendly Texas?

Can Hamels be a top fantasy pitcher in hitter friendly Texas?

Hamels is right on the tail of that ace tier. He is a top pitcher who can strikeout close to a batter per inning, but his ERA won’t be helped pitching half his games in Texas. I am happy to have him as my fall back option as my number two pitcher, especially considering I can get him 10 or so picks after the other guys in that tier among some big question mark pitchers. Chances are I will have two pitchers earlier and won’t be willing to jump on Hamels when it’s time but he is a great fall back option in round 7.

Yu Darvish

The earlier you draft the tougher it will be to know what to do with Darvish. May looks like the earliest we can expect him, but June may be a more realistic expectation. How much we see of him will depend on how the Rangers have done. If they are way off the pace, we may see them be cautious with him but if they are in it they may just want to get him back into action. On a per-game basis he is the best pitcher in this rotation and should be capable of posting more than a strikeout per innings whilst also putting him an ERA in the low threes and a WHIP around 1.2. Currently going 120th overall on average and worth the gamble if you think you can manage your pitching through the first couple of months.

Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Martin Perez and Nick Martinez

Holland is the most fantasy relevant but it is going to have to be a really deep league. There may be streaming opportunities for these guys especially on the road at the big ball parks in LA, Seattle and Oakland.

Closer:

Shawn Tolleson

Tolleson did a good job with the closers role last season but he is by no means a lock for the job full time this season. Whilst Texas don’t have a great bullpen they do have options and a farm system that will allow them to trade for a high profile closer near the deadline if they need one. Tolleson is firmly in that tier of guys who could get 30-plus saves but aren’t locks for the job all season.

Next Man Up:

Keone Kela

Kela is an interesting late round option that is worth a gamble in deeper leagues but is by no means a lock to step in if Tolleson struggles. A name for the watch list.

Prospect Potential

  • Joey Gallo, OF: There’s a long way to the start of camp but right now Gallo is projected to start the year in the minors. He hit six homers in 108 AB’s in 2015 but also had a measly 0.204 batting average. His raw power is tremendous but he has struck out on 41% of his minor league AB’s! The upside is endless but the potential that he could get majorly worked out by big league pitchers is pretty scary. A two or three category stud in roto but won’t offer anything solid batting average wise and won’t be on the base paths enough to put up any substantial steals.
  • Nomar Mazara, OF: Mazara is someone I am really excited for because at just 20 is one of the most polished hitters around. The mess in the outfield could open up a potential hole for him to fill especially if Gallo whiffs his way into the doghouse. There is real 30 homer upside here and combine that with a potentially pretty decent average and we could have a four category stud on our hands.
  • Lewis Brinson, OF: Brinson completes an impressive trifecta that could potentially make up the Texas outfield for years to come. Brinson offers more speed than his two fellow outfielders and could legitimately be a five category player. Combine that potential hitting with his athleticism and we are looking at a centre fielder who has 20/20 potential and could become a perennial first rounder. However, there is risk here given that he only really put it together in 2015 and that was in a hitter friendly situation so another year in the minors might be just what we need to see. Texas won’t rush to bring him up if DeShields can be competent so we may not see him until September.
  • Jurickson Profar, 2B: Not really a prospect but I didn’t really know where else to put him. Profar’s career has been derailed by one injury after another meaning he hasn’t swung a bat in the majors since 2013. He was only 20 when we last saw him and we have no idea how the injury will affect him but Profar is a guy who is worth monitoring and may be worth adding if Odor is struggling early in the year.

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