Texas Rangers' Player Power Ranking: Gentry to Hamilton, Part 3 of 3
Alright we made it to the finale—part three.
This is where the all-stars, MVP's, and even a Rookie-of-the-Year, reside in regards to the hierarchy of the Texas Rangers roster. Whenever one of these players goes down, it's a large problem that results in the promotion of the players previously listed.
In the Rangers case, it's in pretty good shape with the depth they have in multiple positions on the roster. This is the core of the Rangers that the front office would like to lock up long-term when the timing is right.
These players will make or break the Rangers in 2011.
Without further ado, here are your most valuable Rangers.
10. Ian Kinsler
The Rangers two-time All-Star second-baseman is one of the game's best when on the field.
Playing in only 103 games last season—a career low—Kinsler has been tagged with the injury-prone label. This year he won't be missed as sorely as he was last season because of the transition of Michael Young to the super-utility role.
That's not to say the Rangers don't want him in the line-up; they do, as he's elite. He's a game-changer and adds an element to the Rangers line-up when healthy. I would rank Kinsler higher but with Young ready to fill in at second-base, the Rangers won't be hurting so much with him out of the line-up.
Look out though, Kinsler is poised for a big bounce back year.
9. Michael Young
In years past you could argue he would be number one on this list.
Times have certainly changed for Young though. I mean, how valuable can a DH and utility player really be? Even if he is a "super" utility player, as he's been dubbed, I really can't put him much higher.
The recent position changes are the writing on the wall—he's not as valuable as other players around him. Having a player of Young's caliber, however, will be their ace up the sleeve at some point this season, and that's where Young has his value—when someone goes down.
That's says it all about Michael Young at this point.
8. Derek Holland
I know, I know, a little high for Holland.
I guess with my putting him up here I'm calling for a break-out season for him. The argument against this is he's got a career ERA of 5.52 over 31 starts and two seasons.
I understand you're a little skeptical.
He's shown brilliance in multiple performances over those 31 starts, and has the highest ceiling among the group of Hunter, Harrison and Kirkman. It's just a matter of it materializing on the field.
I know there's not much to back me up on this, but Derek Holland will take the next step and put it all together in 2011. At least I hope so, as it'll be hard to count on him to headline a blockbuster deal at the deadline or at any point.
7. Nelson Cruz
The late blooming bomber was hampered by hamstring troubles in 2010, limiting him to just 399 ABs.
A recurring theme of the Rangers, with key players missing chunks of the season. However, he was very effective when in the line-up, actually eclipsing his RBI total from his All-Star season of 2009 with 78.
Boomstick came through often when the Rangers needed him most in the late innings. It's a scary thought for the AL west if Cruz, Kinsler and Hamilton could stay on the field the majority of the season.
Cruz is slated to bat fifth, behind newcomer Adrian Beltre. While he isn't the Rangers number one source for offense, he, like Kinsler, adds another dimension to the line-up that makes it very difficult on opposing pitchers when all the stars align and everyone is healthy.
6. Elvis Andrus
Coming off a successful rookie year, where he finished second in the Rookie-of-the-Year ballot to Andrew Bailey the closer for the Oakland A's, Andrus' power fell off the charts—literally.
He had zero home runs in 2010 and his slugging percentage dropped 73 points. This, however, was the only real negative you could bring up about the 22 year-old shortstop. He got cheated out of a possible Gold Glove because Derek Jeter was obscenely given the award at shortstop last season.
Anyone who watched a game of either player last year would know how incredible Elvis' glove is and how pedestrian to below average Jeter's is. Just saying, that's two awards he came close to winning.
Would we think of him more highly if he was a Rookie-of-the-Year, Gold Glover?
In 2011 Elvis is pegged to go second in the order behind Kinsler and ahead of Hamilton. With the MVP protecting him, he could possibly muster one homer and more in 2011.
5. Neftali Feliz
I'm not real sure why Neftali Feliz' nickname "Happy" hasn't caught on.
Feliz means happy or merry in Spanish, and Feliz's name is often misquoted or mispronounced. Erroneously, he has been called Nefi or Felix. "Happy," however, is very easy to remember, and he made every Rangers fan very "Happy" when he struck out A-Rod to send the Rangers to the World Series.
We need to work on this, just like "Happy" needs to work on his off-speed pitches. It's been well documented that he knee-buckled Mike Napoli in a spring training game. We need to see more of that if he's going to get the ball every fifth day.
Personally, I think he's got the tools to do it, if not he's still a high caliber closer.
In either capacity he's very valuable to the Rangers in 2011 and forward.
4. Colby Lewis
Two-hundred plus innings, 30 plus starts, nearly 200 strike-outs and an ERA under four—not sure how many times that has been done in Rangers history.
Excluding Nolan Ryan, the answer to that is few, none or Colby Lewis in 2010.
He didn't crumble in the heat, down the stretch or in the playoffs, so it's safe to assume the 6'4'', 230 pounder can bear the elements that has worn down pitchers of Rangers past.
What's not safe to assume is that he can repeat his success.
Last year he had to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training; this season the number two starter is being given to him by manger Ron Washington. If hitters figure him out in year two back in the states, he will fade back into oblivion.
Seeing how he was nearly unhittable in the post-season, I don't think that will happen.
3. Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre signed the largest contract with the Rangers since Mr. $252 million, Alex Rodriguez.
It doesn't seem right. Surely the Rangers blew more money on someone else since then, but they haven't. Chan Ho Park's deal was for $65 million over five seasons.
See how long it took to recuperate from those mega-busts of contract signings? Will Beltre bust too?
Beltre, as we all know, has been profiled as a "contract year player", and his next contract year is 2016. It's not like he didn't play well in the years between contracts. In fact, he even won his first two Gold Gloves while in Seattle in the middle of his last big deal.
He's the best defensive third baseman in the league, so he will clearly upgrade the Rangers there, and he's more than capable of replacing Vlad Guerrero's numbers in the clean-up spot.
2. C.J. Wilson
The Opening Day starter and "ace" is number two in this Rangers Power Ranking.
Wilson earned a $4 million raise through arbitration for his excellence as a first-year starter in 2010. C.J. will be looking to earn a whole lot more with another breakout season. He's due for free agency after the season, unless he signs an extension before then.
He was very productive last season, and was one of the main reasons the Rangers ended a lengthy playoff drought. Prognosticators, however, feel C.J. and the Rangers will fall back to Earth this season.
Basically, when C.J. is good, there's a good chance the Rangers will be too; if he's erratic, like his league leading walks from last season, it will likely correlate with the Rangers win-loss column.
1. Josh Hamilton
Big surprise, I know.
The MVP of the American League is without question the MVP of the Rangers. His talent and ability supersede the rest of the roster and most of the league. Clearly he raised his game to another level, a level that he always had the promise to reach since he was the first overall selection in the 1999 draft as an 18 year-old.
I don't think it was coincidence that the top players in this ranking had career years last year (Beltre excluded obviously) and the Rangers went deep into the playoffs.
The question isn't how they got there—we know we saw it develop over 162 games.
The question of 2011 will be can they do it again.
The law averages say no, they won't. I say no too. They all won't achieve similar seasons from last year, but some will. And with the all-around talent on the roster, there should be plenty of players ready to pick up someone who isn't having a career year.