We kick off the top half of our power rankings in the lone star state with the 2015 AL West Champion Texas Rangers.
Projected Record: 86-76 2nd in the AL West
Potential Lineup: CF DeShields #3, RF Choo #17, 1B Fielder #84, 3B Beltre #29, LF Hamilton #32, 1B Moreland #18, C Chirinos #61, SS Andrus #1, 2B Odor #12
Potential Rotation: 1.Hamels #35, 2.Holland #45, 3.Lewis #48, 4.Perez #33, 5.Martinez #22
Potential Bullpen: CL Tolleson #37, 8th Kela #50, 7th Wilhelmsen #54 Mid Relief: Dikeman #41, Dyson #47, Freeman #71, Barnette #43
Potential Bench: OF Rua #16, IF Alberto #2, OF Ruggiano #25, C Gimenez #38
After finishing with the worst record in the American League in 2014 the Texas Rangers did a 180 in 2015. Winning the AL West title. The Rangers ride to October was led by their offense. The team finished third in the majors in runs scored only behind the Yankees and Blue Jays. The offense success came greatly in thanks to bounceback seasons from Prince Fielder the AL Comeback Player of the year who batted .305 with 23 homers, and 98 runs batted in, Sin Soo Choo also had a bounceback 2015 batting .276, with 22 home runs and 82 RBIS. There was also a third Ranger who had a bounceback year Mitch Moreland who hit .278 with 23 homers, and 85 RBI’s. The Rangers offense saw the range of young players Delino DeShields, and Rougned Odor and with virtually the same lineup going into 2016 the Rangers offense should be very strong again in 2016. As for the starting rotation the Rangers will have Cole Hamels for a full season which will help them greatly due to the fact Yovani Gallardo who had a very good 2015 is no longer with the club, and Yu Darvish will miss some of the season still recovering from Tommy John Surgery. The Rangers finished 21st in starting ERA a year ago and in order to improve they will need Hamels to have a big first season in the lone star state, and veterans like Derek Holland, and Colby Lewis to have a solid rotation in 2016. If those veterans can not perform well the Rangers rotation may struggle in 2016. The Texas bullpen saw some new faces come and step up big time in 2015. Shawn Tolleson took over the closer’s role closing out 35 games in 37 save opportunities with a 2.99 ERA, and 76 strikeouts. 22 year old Keone Kela pitched to a 2.39 ERA with 68 strikeouts, and Sam Dyson pitched to a 2.63 ERA with 71 strikeouts. Despite finishing with the 24th ranked bullpen in ERA the Rangers proved that sometimes numbers lied as a lot of new faces came in and helped the Rangers bullpen tremendously. Texas should be a very solid team again in 2016. Yet that young team south of Arlington in Houston may be the division favorites due to their loaded young talent and now playoff experience.