Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
We all know Yu Darvish is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is the ace of the Rangers staff.
He led the big leagues in strikeouts (277) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.890). The 27-year-old also led the American League in hits per nine innings (6.224) and dropped his ERA from 3.90 in 2012 to 2.83 last season.
Darvish is set to make $9.5 million this season—the most of any pitcher on the staff. With a more potent lineup and his bag of pitches, Darvish has a solid chance of taking home the 2014 Cy Young Award.
Neal Cotts had the best year of his career after a three-year hiatus from the big leagues.
He posted a 1.11 ERA, giving up just seven earned runs and 36 hits in 57 innings. The 33-year-old was easily the best bullpen option for manager Ron Washington last season and put up numbers worthy of a setup man.
He may not be able to duplicate the same numbers in 2014, but even a slight drop in production would make him a viable option.
Cotts signed a one-year deal to stay in Texas. If he can put up similar numbers, he will earn a permanent home somewhere for the remainder of his career.
Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin
Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin were put together in this list for two reasons: stealing bases and bunting.
They combined for 76 stolen bases in 2013. Andrus was second in the AL (42) and Martin was fifth (36) in the category. Their speed will create many scoring opportunities. It will also create headaches for opposing pitchers who have to pitch to guys like Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre with them on base.
Bunting is another skill these guys share. Andrus has led the AL in sacrifice bunts in three of the past four seasons, including the previous two years. Martin was second on that list last season with 12 and both are threats to bunt for hits.
Their speed and defense will make them X-factors in the 2014 season.
The New Closer
Whether it is Neftali Feliz or Tanner Scheppers, the next closer has to adequately replace Joe Nathan.
Nathan earned 43 saves last year in 46 tries. Feliz used to be the closer for the Rangers before moving to the rotation in 2012. Scheppers was the setup man last season and finished the year with a 1.88 ERA. Both pitchers are capable of shutting the door in the ninth for Texas in 2014.
Whoever it is, the replacement missed the top five due to the improved lineup. This team is going to score a lot of runs. And because the club has multiple options in the ninth, it isn’t a burning issue for the Rangers.