2012 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers 2012 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers 2012 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers
 

2012 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers Logo.

Down in Arlington, Texas the last two years have proven to be optimistic yet frustrating.

Last season marked the Rangers second consecutive, yet unsuccessful trip to the World Series.

The franchise had never gotten past the ALDS before 2010, so winning two consecutive American League pennants in their first two visits means it is no fluke and that this team knows how to compete.

Last season the Rangers finished 96-66, which was the second best record in the American League. And in the AL West they left the competition in the dust, as the next best team was the Angels who were 10 games back.

Will 2012, prove to be another year of celebration in Arlington?

Let’s take a look.

THE POSITIVES:

Overall the Rangers line-up, when healthy, is one of the best in baseball. Playing in hitting friendly Rangers ballpark certainly helps, as the team’s overall batting stats are better at home. In 2011, the Rangers finished with the best batting average in baseball posting a .283, and they were the hardest team to strikeout with 930 on the season. Texas finished second in homers with 210, third in RBIs with 807 and had the second best slugging percentage with .800 on the season. And in Ranger Stadium the team is hard to beat, with a batting average just shy of .300.

The Rangers best player Josh Hamilton had a rough off-season, as he fell off the wagon and the concern meter is on high alert. Hamilton’s past does not allow for any slip-ups, but he did this once before during Spring Training in 2009 and went on to win the AL MVP. Turning a negative into a positive seems to be something Hamilton has become very good at. His shame alone should once again make him strive to prove his worth on the baseball field, maybe not another MVP year but a solid one. Also, Hamilton is a free agent after this season and players tend to rev it up in years before they can hit the market.

THE NEGATIVES:

The Rangers have plenty of questions and the one that is most worrisome is there unconventional method when it comes to pitching, which is not so surprising considering the club’s President is Nolan Ryan. Still, moving guys from the bullpen to the rotation is risky; and messing with a solid bullpen leaves the question of why screw with something that works?

The Rangers also could have used a big bat at first base, as in getting Prince Fielder would have made there already very good line-up that much better. Especially with the amount of injuries that have happened to key players over the last two seasons, specifically Beltran, Kinsler, Hamilton, Cruz, Napoli and now add Joe Nathan to the list.

Speaking of Nathan, the once star closer of the Minnesota Twins has not been able to find his form again following Tommy John and missing all of 2010. In 2009, Nathan pasted 47 saves and a 2.10 ERA; but last season he only managed 14 saves in 48 appearances and posted a 4.84 ERA so counting on Nathan in big game situations seems a bit risky.

PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:

1) How beneficial will moving closer Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation be? The 23-year old Feliz has been proven to be a solid closer, posting 40 saves in 2010, which earned him the Rookie of the Year, and had 32 saves in 2011. Feliz already has a plus fastball, and he said he worked all off-season on his slider and change-up. Feliz needs to find consistency in his secondary pitches, if he wants to have any success as a starter and that is easier said than done. Keep an eye on Feliz, as the Rangers season could look a lot different if he can be successful.

2) Yu Darvish is not a positive or a negative, yet. That is because it is too premature to predict what the Japanese import will bring in his first year pitching in the Majors. The Rangers certainly paid a premium for the 25-year old, who features seven pitches but that doesn’t mean make the odds of him adjusting in 2012 any better. Rangers Park is as hitter friendly as they come; and the brutal summer heat in Arlington is bound to take a toll on Darvish. If he pitches 180+ and maintains an ERA of 3.90 that would be considered a decent adjustment year, but certainly not what keeping CJ Wilson could have done. The biggest fear is that Darvish won’t adjust at all, as Japanese pitchers have had trouble doing so in the past…Dice-K and Igawa.

2012 PREDICTION:

The Rangers will have their hands full in 2012, as winning the AL West will not be a cakewalk like it was the past two seasons. Thus making getting into the postseason a lot tougher, as even with the new postseason format it is hard to imagine that the AL West will produce either of the two Wild Cards.

When a team has so many questions that need to be answered, it takes some time to adjust and get everything flowing. I don’t doubt that the Rangers cannot get everything in order, but this season that needed time might be something Texas cannot afford.

On the other hand, the last two seasons have given the Rangers experience. The team is very familiar with what it takes to win, so maybe they are up for the challenge. When looking around at different sportsbook reviews it seems that the general consensus in Vegas is that the Rangers have an 8 to 1 shot at winning it all.

Personally, I just don’t see it this season because the Angels got that much better.




4 Comments

  1. SteveKarsay says:

    Past two years must have been frustrating as hell for Rangers fans. If Nelson Cruz could catch a fly ball they'd have a ring.

    • LLP says:

      Steve – I am sure Rangers fans were frustrated but they are lucky to be there in the first place. I have never been on the Rangers bandwagon, as they get too many passes by everyone media person already and it annoys the heck out of me.

  2. K.Smith says:

    2010 was not the first time the Rangers made it to the post season.
    Figures, damn yankee fans.

    • LLP says:

      My bad I meant to say the ALCS…I forgot about 1999 where Rangers got swept by the Yankees; 1998 swept but Yankees again and in 1996 lost again to the Yankees 3-1. Thanks for reminding me!!!!

      Correction: first time Rangers ever played in the ALCS!!!!