Texas Rangers: Projecting the 2013 Batting Order
Josh Hamilton has left the Texas Rangers for a big contract and the limelight of Hollywood. There is a huge void in the middle of the Rangers lineup, now that Hamilton is with the division rival Angels.
The additional loss of Michael Young to the Phillies and Mike Napoli apparently leaving to Red Sox, manager Ron Washington has the difficult task of making out a lineup card with a lot of missing pieces.
Michael Young was "Mr. Ranger", spending his last 13 years in Texas. Josh Hamilton was the number three hitter, and Mike Napoli provided a lot of power from the catcher and designated hitter positions.
The Texas Rangers offense has taken a major hit so far this offseason. They lost one of the best hitters in the game, and have not even remotely come close to replacing him. Texas still has some talented players on their roster. So let's take a look at a possible lineup that makes sense for the Rangers come opening day in 2013.
1. Elvis Andrus, SS
Elvis Andrus has been batting at the top of the Rangers order since he came up back in 2009.
The 24-year-old Andrus will not wow you with any particular part of his game, but he does a lot of things well. He has stolen over thirty bags three times. He has seen his batting average and on-base percentage rise in each of the past three seasons.
Andrus has also begun to display some more gap power over the past two seasons, eclipsing 30 doubles for the first time in 2012.
Andrus may be better suited as a number two hitter, especially if he keeps increasing his power production, but for now he is a very good leadoff man for the Rangers.
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
Ian Kinsler has been somewhat of an enigma during his MLB career. He has shown flashes of high batting averages, has hit over 30 home runs twice and has produced high stolen base totals. All of those things point to him having the tools to be the best all-around player on his team, but he has not been able to consistently put it all together each season.
Kinsler, now 30 years old, is probably better suited to be a middle of the order hitter. However, his inconsistent batting average, which has not been higher than .256 in each of the past two seasons, essentially prevents him from taking over for Hamilton in the three hole.
Kinsler's speed makes him an ideal number two hitter, but his power potential says middle of the order. He reminds me of Carlos Beltran in that regard. If he raises his average, he may be able to slide down in the order.
3. Adrian Beltre, 3B
Adrian Beltre probably becomes the best overall hitter in the Rangers lineup with departure of Josh Hamilton. Beltre has found his stroke in Texas and has raked ever since joining the Rangers in 2011.
Beltre is the best option for the Rangers to bat third because of his consistent offensive production over the past three seasons. He has averaged 32 home runs, 103 RBI and 38 doubles since joining the Rangers.
4. Nelson Cruz, RF
Nelson Cruz has been a steady source of power for the Rangers since he burst onto the scene in 2008. Since that time he has been a mainstay in the Rangers lineup providing power and run production.
Cruz's one hiccup is his health. Prior to 2012 when he played 159 games, Cruz had not played in more than 124 games in each of his previous three seasons.
Cruz's health will be paramount to the Rangers success in 2013, and a return to the 30 home run club would also help out—something he has not done since the 2009 season.
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C
The loss of Mike Napoli means a lot of home runs go with him. The addition of A.J. Pierzynski means that there will be a steadying veteran presence behind the dish.
Pierzynski is a fierce competitor, a savvy veteran and a former World Series Champion. Pierzyniski can help lead the young Rangers pitching staff in 2013, and help pick up some on the offensive end.
Don't expect Pierzynski to repeat his 2012 season when he hit 28 home runs. However, it is very realistic to think he may hit 15, especially in the hitter-friendly Rangers ballpark in Arlington.
6. David Murphy, LF
David Murphy is on track to be the starting left fielder for the Rangers in 2013. He is a very underrated player, especially on the offensive end. His 2012 season was very respectable as he hit 15 home runs and and drove in over 60 runs in just 457 at-bats.
Murphy has never had a full-time gig in the majors, but has routinely amassed over 400 at-bats as a member of the Rangers. He currently has a string of five straight seasons hitting double-digit home runs, and continues to be one of the unsung hero's in the Rangers recent run of success.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of numbers he will put up over a full season of 600 at-bats. Is 20 home runs in the cards for the lefty?
7. Mike Olt, DH
Mike Olt came through the Rangers system as a third baseman. Now he is ready to play Major League Baseball, but he is blocked by All-Star Adrian Beltre.
His bat will force him into the lineup, as the Rangers look for him to pick up some of the slack left by Hamilton and Napoli's departures. The Rangers will attempt to play him in the outfield, maybe spell Moreland at first against a tough lefty, and he will probably be slotted in as the DH as well.
Olt hit 28 home runs in the minors last season, but struggled in his brief time with Texas after being called up. His upside is very intriguing, but the trade rumors have been rampant. His future with Texas hangs in the balance as long as he continues to be rumored in potential trades.
8. Mitch Moreland, 1B
Mitch Moreland has been a nice player for the Rangers hitting 15 home runs in each of the last two seasons.
Moreland hit 15 home runs in just 327 at-bats last season and it is very realistic to believe he has the potential to hit 25 if he gets over 600 at-bats in 2013.
Moreland needs to improve on his offense numbers to keep his job past this upcoming season. Doing so would definitely help Texas compete in 2013. Don't be surprised to see Mike Olt take over full time at first base if Moreland struggles and Olt surges out of the gate.
9. Leonys Martin, CF
Leonys Martin should take over in center field for Texas in 2013. He has the speed to do it. After a very productive season in Triple-A, the 24-year-old is primed and ready for the show.
Martin surged in Triple-A last season, hitting 12 home runs and 18 doubles in just over 200 at-bats. He got the call on June 15, and made a few starts, before finishing up the season as a backup.
Thanks to the Rangers loaded outfield, he never really got a shot to play everyday. Now with Hamilton's departure, Martin will have center all to himself. It is basically his job to lose out of spring, and if he plays well enough he will be starting in center field on opening day.