The window appears to be closing on one era of Texas Rangers dominance. Slowly but surely several major pieces of their playoff teams are jumping ship. They’re without Michael Young and Mike Napoli; C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton left but to make matters worse, they now play for the division rival Los Angeles Angels. Texas still has enough remaining talent and top prospects to fill their voids but is it enough to compete with the Angels? Texas will still field an array of fantasy baseball but not as many as fans are accustomed to.
The Texas Rangers franchise has become synonymous with offense but this may be their most balanced team in recent memory. The big bats are still featured at the top of their lineup but it lacks it’s usual depth while they wait for their young players to blossom. The first Texas hitters off the board in fantasy drafts will be Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz.
Beltre’s career has seen some incredible ups mixed in with some downs, which in other words can be described as inconsistent. However, he has quietly produced three all-star caliber seasons in a row. He has hit .321 in two of his past three campaigns while tallying better than 25 homers and 100 RBIs three straight times. Beltre is now at age that many consider the twilight years but he has showed no signs of breaking down. He has at least one more season of borderline top-five fantasy production at third base.
Kinsler has experienced his share of ups and down as well but his have come more recently. His average has dipped into the .250s over the past two seasons while failing to reach the 20 homer plateau twice in three years. He can no longer be held in the company of elite fantasy players but he is still a quality player at a weak position.
The rumors linking Cruz and a biogenesis clinic have been swirling but nothing has been confirmed by the league. He has performed well in the preseason, including a .303 average in a winning World Baseball Classic effort. It’s unlikely that anything will come of the PED reports, making Cruz an appealing fantasy outfielder once again. He’s a short list of hitters that is a lock for 20 home runs annually but has surprisingly never surpassed 100 RBIs. Expect more of the same from Cruz in 2013 which is roughly .265 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs.
Texas has come a long way from the days where their pitching was a tremendous liability. Yu Darvish is coming off an impressive rookie season and sits atop a quality rotation. Darvish should dominate at a more consistent rate in 2013 and should find himself in the Cy Young discussion.
Derek Holland came back down to earth after posting a 16-5 record in his breakout 2011 campaign. Holland and Matt Harrison will serve as a stable two and three in a rotation that ranked in the middle of the pack for most major pitching categories. Both are considered mid to low-end fantasy pitchers.
Texas’ top five fantasy hitters: 1. Adrian Beltre, 2. Ian Kinsler, 3. Nelson Cruz, 4. Elvis Andrus, 5. David Murphy
Texas’ top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Yu Darvish, 2. Matt Harrison, 3. Derek Holland
Texas projected record: 88-74
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.