Projecting the Texas Rangers 2014 Batting Order
The Texas Rangers will have a new-look lineup when 2014 hits. With the acquisition of Prince Fielder, the loss of Ian Kinsler and the everyday use of Jurickson Profar heading into next season, this year's lineup is sure to look different than last year's.
With potential free agent acquisitions and trades still on the horizon, here is a look at how the Rangers' 2014 lineup could look heading into next season.
1. Left Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo
2013 Stats: .285/.423/.885, 34 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB
No, the Rangers haven't signed Shin-Soo Choo yet, but it remains a very good possibility.
Last season, Choo played in 154 games for the Reds. He hit leadoff in all but 11 of those games and scored a total of 107 runs in 2013. His run production placed him as the third-highest run scorer last year and would make for a great addition to Texas' lineup in 2014.
Until he officially signs with another team, don't count the Rangers out of the sweepstakes to land Choo. Texas could use a run scorer of his caliber, and he would be a perfect fit as the team's leadoff hitter.
2. Shortstop, Elvis Andrus
2013 Stats: .271/.328/.659, 17 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 67 RBI, 42 SB
Andrus hit second in the lineup for most of last season, and there's no reason to think that he won't stay there heading into next season.
After signing an eight-year contract extension last season, Andrus saw his average drop to .242 before the All-Star break. It was after the break that Andrus went on to hit .313 while driving in 36 runs and belting four homers.
He needs to improve on his extra base hits, but his ability to steal bases still makes him a threat to score runs any time he gets on base. Should Andrus be able to continue his hot hitting into 2014, Texas could have a dangerous group of hitters at the top of its order.
3. First Baseman, Prince Fielder
2013 Stats: .279/.362/.819, 36 2B, 25 HR, 106 RBI
The Rangers traded for Prince Fielder this offseason, adding significant power to a lineup that needed a bit of a boost.
Fielder is no stranger to hitting in powerful lineups, as he spent the last two seasons hitting with the Tigers and third baseman Miguel Cabrera. In his two seasons with the Tigers, Fielder hit .295 with 55 homers and 214 RBI while posting a .387 on-base percentage.
While being a great power hitter, Fielder also brings a history of durability to the Rangers. Fielder hasn't missed a game since 2010, where he missed just one game, and has played in 157 or more since his rookie year in 2006.
4. Third Baseman, Adrian Beltre
2013 Stats: .315/.371/.880, 32 2B, 30 HR, 92 RBI
Adrian Beltre found himself hitting fourth in the lineup for Texas for the majority of last season. Despite the acquisition of Prince Fielder this offseason, Beltre will remain fourth in the lineup according to manager Ron Washington.
Beltre is easily the best hitter the Rangers have on their roster as it stands right now. He led the team last year in home runs (30) and RBI (92) and had the highest on-base percentage among qualifiers at .371.
Beltre could see his numbers increase in the coming season given the fact that he will likely have Prince Fielder hitting behind him. Teams could feel more inclined to go after Beltre rather than pitch around him and run the risk of facing Fielder with multiple men on base.
Regardless of where Beltre lands in the Rangers' 2014 lineup, expect another big season for the veteran third baseman.
Right Fielder, Alex Rios
2013 Stats: .278/.324/.756, 33 2B, 4 3B, 18 HR, 81 RBI, 42 SB
While with the White Sox and Rangers, Rios spent the majority of last season hitting out of the third spot in the lineup. Should Texas sign Choo and Andrus be named as the team's second hitter, fifth seems to be the next reasonable spot for Rios in the lineup
He has the ability to hit for a relatively decent average and can drive in runs. In addition to his bat, he also posted a new career high in stolen bases, swiping 42 bags last season in 49 attempts. Think of him as a second leadoff hitter in the middle of the order.
Rios remained a relatively consistent hitter throughout all of 2013, and his average never dropped below .255 all of last season. He has shown his ability to create runs once he gets on base, and he also has the ability to provide a little extra power behind Beltre and Fielder.
Rios could be found hitting out of a multitude of spots as the season unfolds in 2014, but as it stands right now, expect to see him somewhere near the middle of the order.
6. Second Baseman, Jurickson Profar
2013 Stats: .234/.308/.644, 11 2B, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB
Jurickson Profar finally has his chance at being the Rangers' everyday second baseman. The Rangers traded away veteran Ian Kinsler in exchange for Prince Fielder, giving Profar a chance to live up to the high expectations that have been placed on him.
Profar was viewed as the top prospect in the Rangers' organization heading into the 2013 season, but he was unable to make much of an impact last year. Having to split time with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, Profar never really had a chance to solidify himself in the Rangers' lineup and find his groove.
He struggled to the tune of a .234 batting average last season and stole only two bases on six attempts. As if he doesn't have enough pressure on him already, he will also have big shoes to fill in replacing Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler spent eight years with the Rangers, playing a key role in the team's offense while being named an All-Star three times in his career.
7. Designated Hitter, Mitch Moreland
2013 Stats: .232/.299/.736, 24 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR, 60 RBI
Last year was really a tale of two seasons for Mitch Moreland. Moreland went into the All-Star break hitting .266 with 13 homers and 37 RBI in 80 games. Following the All-Star break, Moreland hit just .183 with 10 homers and 23 RBI, struggling to get on base in every way possible.
There's no doubt that Moreland has to find a way to fix the problems he saw late last season. He has enough power in his bat to still be a contributor in the lower-half of Texas' lineup, but a boost in his average would be a nice addition to their offensive power.
8. Center Fielder, Leonys Martin
2013 Stats: .260/.313/.698, 21 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 36 SB
Leonys Martin showed a few flashes of the type of player he could be for the Rangers in the near future. He likely won't hit any more than 15 homers in a season, but he is certainly capable of hitting for a higher average.
Last season was Martin's first full season in the majors, and there's no doubt that he did a lot of good things for the club in 2013. He was able to solidify a spot in center field and managed to swipe 36 bases in 45 attempts.
Martin is just another name in Texas' lineup who has potential to produce runs once he reaches base. Look for Martin to improve on his 2013 stats and to continue improving on his numbers at the plate.
9. Catcher, Geovany Soto
2013 Stats: .245/.328/.794, 9 2B, 9 HR, 22 RBI
Soto has been less than impressive throughout most of his career. His best season was in 2008, when he played in his first full season with the Chicago Cubs. Soto hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBI that year, taking home the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Since the 2008 season, Soto has hit above .245 only once, which he did last year. His highest RBI output since 2008 came in 2011, when he drove in 54 runs in his last full season with the Cubs.
As it stands right now, Soto looks to be the starting catcher for the Rangers heading into 2014. There isn't too much you could expect from Soto at this point. Let's just hope he finds a way to get back to his 2008 form and ends his recent struggles as the new starting catcher for the Rangers.