Previously, The Fantasy Fix reviewed and gave projections for the 2011 Texas Rangers rotation. Now, it's time to dive in and analyze the Rangers positional players.
Oh, the Rangers. I would stack the first seven hitters in the Texas Rangers’ lineup against any team in baseball on any day of the week. Except the problem with the Rangers’ top six hitters, is that on any day of the week, four of those top seven are hurt.
I could go back over the last few years, but 2010 is a microcosm of their injury history. Josh Hamilton missed the entire month of September; Nelson Cruz missed 54 games; Ian Kinsler missed 59 games; and while Adrian Beltre only missed eight last year, he missed 51 in 2009 and 19 the year before that.
The dilemma, of course, is that each of these is among the top players at their position when healthy. All go in the first few rounds of drafts and are excellent…when they stay healthy. For my money, the only one I’ll touch is Beltre, who didn’t miss more than 12 games in any season from 2002 to 2007. The other three, on the other hand, have never demonstrated an ability to consistently stay healthy.
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Mixed league auction values in parentheses.
Catcher: MIKE NAPOLI ($13) – I just picked Napoli in my 12-team mixed league draft, and you should too. He hit 26 homers in 453 at bats last year and has great power. And now that he’s out from under Mike Scioscia’s inexplicably anti-Napoli thumb, and is in a great hitters’ park in Texas, I expect a huge year from Napoli. Added bonus that not only can he play every day at Catcher but 1B or DH as well.
First Base: MITCH MORELAND ($2) – Moreland flashed some good power at the end of 2010, knocking nine homers in just 145 at-bats. He was given the first base job last year, handled himself very well throughout the postseason (hitting .348 with a .900 OPS) and is primed for a good year. The problem from a fantasy perspective, however, is that 1B is so deep he won’t be more than a backup.
Second Base: IAN KINSLER ($25) – With the earlier caveat that I will never own Ian Kinsler, because he’s played more than 130 games once in his five-year career, he is the best all-around second baseman in the game. In 618 games over those five years, he has 92 homers, 106 steals, and an OPS of .822. While 2010 was his worst statistical season by far as he fought through injuries all year, yet still managed an OPS of .794, second best in the AL and eighth best in MLB. Just know the risk…
Third Base: ADRIAN BELTRE ($23) – No one quite knows what to make of Beltre this year. He’s hit .300 and driven in 100 runs twice—both in contract years. He’s had an OPS over .900 twice—both in contract years. I could go on, but you get the point. But this year somehow feels different.
Instead of playing in cavernous Safeco Field and expected to carry the offensively-challenged Mariners, he’s playing in cozy Rangers Ballpark and batting fifth for a stacked offense. I own him in my mixed and AL-only leagues and am officially hoping for the best.
Shortstop: ELVIS ANDRUS ($22) – Another favorite of mine, especially in this year of offensively-challenged shortstops. Even though he’s currently being chosen sixth overall among shortstops, I’d put him on par with everyone but the top two. Everyone else has question marks, and no one has Elvis’ speed, upside and run-scoring potential. At 22 years old, he is a lock for at least 30 steals, and with a little improvement, 90 to 100 runs. Now if he’d only hit a home run…
Left Field: NELSON CRUZ ($27) – Injury issues aside (though they are significant), Cruz is one of the best outfielders in the game. A rare combination of power and speed in a big guy, this late bloomer has 30/30 potential if he could stay on the field. He’s going far too high in mixed leagues for my taste, but he’ll produce big numbers when he does play.
Center Field: JULIO BORBON ($1) – Which Borbon will we see this year? The one who hit .191 in April and played himself out of the leadoff spot or the one who hit .356 (but with only one stolen base) in June? The one who hit .222 with one steal in July or the one who hit .364 with five steals in September? And for a guy who’s so fast, why did he only steal 15 bases in 137 games last year? He’s got loads of potential but isn’t worth drafting in normal mixed leagues right now.
Right Field: JOSH HAMILTON ($35) – The reigning American League MVP is a beast; he only played five months of 2010 but hit .359 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 95 runs scored (plus eight steals to boot). Because of his injury-filled and subpar 2009, Hamilton was picked low in 2010 and is being kept in virtually every keeper league. In standard leagues, he’s too expensive for a guy who is about to turn 30 and missed large chunks of each of the past two seasons with ailments.
Outfield: DAVID MURPHY ($2) – It’s rare for a player who didn’t enter either 2009 or 2010 with a starting job is being picked in mixed league drafts. But that’s what you get when you play 138 games backing up Hamilton and Cruz and has flashed double-digit power and decent RBI numbers. Might be worth a late-round flyer, but Murphy doesn’t do any one thing well enough to interest me much.
Designated Hitter: MICHAEL YOUNG ($15) – The stand-up guy to end all stand-up guys, Young did not have his offseason trade request honored, and so the former second baseman (pre-Kinsler), shortstop (pre-Andrus) and third baseman (pre-Beltre) will man the DH spot for the Rangers this year. Still eligible at third, Young is a solidly consistent hitter and is good for at least 15 homers, 75 runs, 75 RBI, and a batting average of between .280 and .310.
Written by Jesse Mendelson exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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