It’s been a pretty good run for the Texas Rangers since 2010 with four division titles, two American League pennant and five playoff appearances, but this team has a chance to do something in 2017 that they’ve yet to do in their history: win three straight division crowns.
The Rangers are one of three teams projected to be in a dog fight atop the AL West alongside Seattle and Houston. While the Rangers are the team to beat after taking the division title once again last year, they stayed relatively stagnant in the offseason while the Mariners were wheeling and dealing and the Astros were adding a ton of veteran presence.
Of course, Texas did make a few nice moves: signing Mike Napoli and bringing in a good reclamation project in Tyson Ross. Still, are those moves enough to maintain the division top spot when the teams chancing the Rangers were so busy?
2016 Record: 95-67
2016 Moneyline Record: +29.32 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 79-73-10
Current World Series Odds: +1911
Current Odds To Win AL: +935
Current Odds To Win AL West: +245
Regular Season Win Total: 85.5
The loss of Ian Desmond over the offseason will be a tough one for the Rangers. He was a late add last year, but the addition paid off as he proved to be a capable outfielder and eventually took the reigns as the team’s center fielder for a stretch.
Late in the year, Texas brought in Carlos Gomez from Houston who had seen his stock plummet with a very rough season. Gomez blossomed for the Rangers and that earned him a new contract, but he’s still a bit of a question for this team and he’s not alone.
Mike Napoli’s signing helped solidify this lineup a bit, but outside of him, Jonathan Lucroy behind the dish and Adrian Beltre at third, there are questions abound. Rougned Odor is really good, but is he just a big power, low OBP guy or can he put together a few more quality at bats?
The Rangers will be looking to a number of young players to be significant contributors, namely Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar. The two may be the main flanks in the corner outfield spots to Gomez. Mazara had a big first half, but struggles as the league adjusted. It’s now his turn to adjust back, but the 21-year old is still very young. Profar, on the other hand, seems older than he is. He’s been a top prospect for a while, but injuries derailed his career. This year may be a chance for him to see every day at bats or will the team need to piece things together with Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields? And, is Elvis Andrus going to be the player we saw last year or the one we saw the few years prior?
All in all, there’s plenty to like in the position players. They’ve got power. They’ve got some speed. Can they put it all together? Can Shin-Soo Choo stay healthy enough to be an on-base machine again atop the order? So many questions, but at least this team can expect a number of those questions to be answered positively.
On to the pitching, that’s where the real issue may lie.
Sure, this team is as good as any at the top of the rotation with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Darvish is back healthy with a full offseason to get ready. He should return to the Cy Young contending form from a few years ago.
It’s what lays beyond those two, however, that causes concern. Martin Perez has so much talent, but cannot seem to put things together. He tossed nearly 200 innings last year which is nice, but his 4.39 ERA and 1.414 WHIP are more indicative of a number five starter than a middle of the rotation arm.
After him, this team has hopes that Ross can be a big contributor come midseason and if that happens, it would be a major boost, giving the team a very good top three and the ability to piece together the last two spots with some combination of Perez, A.J. Griffin and Mike Hauschild. For now, all three will be pushed into action with Ross still sidelined and Andrew Cashner—who even when healthy was a questionable sign—injured.
Once you get past the starting five, the team starts to seem a bit deeper again. Sam Dyson got the job done when he took over as closer last year and while the injury to Jake Diekman could be huge, Jeremey Jeffress and Matt Bush make a formidable setup team.
This team will hang with the better teams in the AL West, but it is vulnerable to the Astros and the Mariners if either proves it can pitch better than Texas, but both have questions in that area as well.
April 3-5: vs. Indians
April 7-9: vs. Athletics
April 11-13: at Angels
April 14-16: at Mariners
April 17-19: at Athletics
April 20-23: vs. Royals
April 24-26: vs. Twins
April 28-30: vs. Angels
The Rangers will get to tests how good it is right off the bat with a head-to-head matchup against the reigning AL champion Indians in three games. While it’s not necessarily a rivalry, it does pin two playoff hopefuls, each of whom made it to October last year, against each other. The pitching—at least in the first two games—should be a major storyline and fun to watch as Hamels and Darvish get to try and outduel Corey Kluber and either Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar.
After hosting the reigning league champion, the Rangers will have a rather soft April schedule. Other than Cleveland, only Seattle and, possibly Kansas City, figure to be in the race even come July, let alone September.
View this years MLB game match-ups with the complete seasonal schedule for all MLB teams. Each year we will be updating the season schedule with the current information including final scores, so bookmark this page.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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