Texas Rangers Player Power Ranking: Gentry to Hamilton Part 1/3
This is a unique power ranking; it's a blend of who is the most valuable to the Rangers and who the Rangers would least like to see in an Angels/rival uniform. For example if Josh Hamilton wound up playing in The Big A, it would be difficult for Rangers fans to sleep at night, whereas Craig Gentry who is No. 30 in my ranking would cause very little distress among the Rangers faithful.
Also, this will be issued in a three part series in descending order: 30-21, 20-11 and 10-1. Why 30? Because it's a nice round number, and gives me a chance to look outside the 25 man roster because the Rangers will definitely have more than just 25 valuable players this season.
30) Craig Gentry
Gentry amassed only 50 ABs last season, however he's been solid in five minor league seasons in the Rangers farm system posting a career .286 AVG and swiping a total of 140 bases.
The 27-year-old outfielder is the fifth or sixth outfielder for a star-studded outfield. There has been little opportunity for Gentry to get playing time in Arlington over the past few seasons. But the Rangers outfielders routinely go down with injuries so Gentry could be needed at some point this season.
His value to the Rangers is depth, defense and speed on the base-paths; he had a career high 49 stolen bases in 2009. Sure a fifth/sixth outfielder can be found anywhere, but his familiarity with the system (Rangers 10th round pick in 2006) and low cost ($400k last season) make him the 30th most valuable player to the Rangers in 2011.
29) Tanner Scheppers
Scheppers had 80 IP and 90 Ks while starting seven games in AAA and notching six saves bouncing in between relief and starting roles in 2010.
Tanner is continuing to alternate between roles, he's being stretched out this Spring. His role with the Rangers in 2011 is a late relief role which Scheppers excelled at in AA Frisco, posting a microscopic .273 WHIP.
That performance prompted a call-up to AAA where he got his only seven starts. Scheppers fell to the Rangers at No. 44 in the 2009 draft because of arm problems. The Rangers might be wise to keep Scheppers in the bullpen to limit his workload and maximize his value and potential.
In 2011, Scheppers will be the Rangers' saving grace when a bullpen arm goes down. This will eliminate the need for the Rangers to exchange prospects for relievers at the deadline. This also allows the Rangers to continue to build from within.
28) Matt Harrison
Harrison had 78.1 IP and 4.71 ERA over 37 appearances, six of which were starts in 2010.
Matt has been pushed into long relief and has been bypassed by other rotation candidates. Harrison was one of the key pieces in the Teixeira trade, along with Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones.
He's entering his third full season with the big league club, and while he has never been overwhelming in any area he's been serviceable wherever he has been needed. Harrison's value to the Rangers is a long lefty out of the bullpen and spot starter.
27) Scott Feldman
Feldman posted a 5.48 ERA over 141.1 IP in 2010, but it was his 2009 performance of a 4.08 ERA and 18 wins that netted him a four year $22.5 million deal.
He's currently injured coming off knee surgery and is out until May, which will put him a couple months behind multiple pitchers competing for his role as a long relief pitcher. His guaranteed, multi-year major league deal will give him more leash than others, but with so much competition in the bullpen and for rotation slots, innings may be harder to come by for Feldman in 2011.
26) Matt Treanor
Treanor is a career backup catcher with .227 AVG .311 OBP and .621 OPS for career averages. Treanor was called upon by Ron Washington more than he ever has in the majors as he posted career highs in every major statistical category including ABs with 237.
The Rangers are in a much better situation at catcher this year, but that can change in a hurry and clearly Washington is comfortable with him behind the dish. Treanor's value to the Rangers is as a third catcher behind Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli.
25) Andres Blanco
Blanco has a career .260 AVG and .638 OPS over five seasons and 515 ABs. He, like Treanor, saw a career high in ABs with the Rangers last season.
In 2011 he might as well be nicknamed "Elvis Insurance" because he's not expected to get much action anywhere other than shortstop with Michael Young filling everywhere else in the infield.
In the event Young gets traded though, he will have an expanded role. Blanco like many of the other players ranked near him have value to the Rangers in the depth they provide, which always will be needed in the 162 game marathon that is a MLB season.
24) Chris Davis
In 2010, Davis only earned 120 ABs in which he posted a miserable .192 AVG and struck out 40 times.
He's blocked at first by Mitch Moreland, Michael Young and Mike Napoli. There's not much room for everyday ABs for Davis, which gives the Rangers even more incentive to keep him back at AAA to refine his hitting mechanics which have yet to translate to major league pitching.
He's mashed AAA repeatedly now and is falling into the AAAA star-player category, unless he can make the required adjustments because MLB pitchers clearly know how to get to Davis. Davis' value to the Rangers will either be taking a step forward in the batters box and providing Ron Washington with a four-corner guy who can play first, third, left and right field.
Another way Davis will help the Rangers in 2011 is by possibly being traded for players that could help the Rangers down the stretch.
23) Michael Kirkman
Kirkman was the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, he parlayed that into a September audition in which he continued his success recording a 1.16 WHIP over 16.1 innings in relief.
This Spring, he's gunning for a spot in the rotation and the Rangers are allowing him along with about six others to compete for that coveted position. At the end of last season, some felt Kirkman had leapfrogged other young Rangers starting pitching options.
If Kirkman does indeed win a job in the rotation he could prove to be much more valuable than 23rd to the Rangers. He is among the multiple quality young arms the Rangers are counting on to win the AL West again in 2011.
22) Yorvit Torrealba
Torrealba registered a .271 AVG and .721 OPS in 2010 for the Padres. He has never had more than 450 ABs in a season and he won't be needed to surpass that mark in 2011 with Mike Napoli and Matt Treanor to back him up.
Torrealba, however, greatly improves the Rangers' weakest offensive positions of last season. Torrealba takes pride in calling the game and in his defense, both of which were key reasons the Rangers signed him early in the offseason.
His value to the Rangers in 2011 will be shoring up a black hole offensively from last year and keeping the Rangers' young pitching staff in line. Torrealba's rank would be much higher if not for Napoli and his low AB totals.
21) Julio Borbon
Borbon hit for a .276 AVG in 2010, a respectable mark for his first full season. He's been named the opening day center fielder by manger Ron Washington, who resisted at times at playing him last season because of his defensive short-comings.
Julio's value would skyrocket if he can prove to Washington that he can play everyday. It's also possible if Borbon impresses with his bat he could get an opportunity to lead off as well.
Borbon played sparingly in the postseason because Washington didn't trust him. Also, with David Murphy snatching away ABs, Borbon may be limited. Then there's Engle Beltre, the Rangers center field top prospect right behind him as well.
Borbon has a high ceiling, but the Rangers have many other outfield options to use until he reaches his potential. Borbon, like Chris Davis, could be used to acquire high-end talent at the deadline to put the Rangers over the top.
This concludes part 1/3 of the Texas Rangers Player Power Ranking: Gentry to Hamilton, look for the next two parts soon.