MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 31, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers on Paper

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    Before the start of last postseason, the Rangers had never won a playoff series.  In three playoff appearances, they were knocked out in the first round each time by the New York Yankees.

    After dispatching the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the ALDS, the Rangers defeated the Yankees in six games to win the pennant.

    Josh Hamilton won the AL MVP, Neftali Feliz won the AL Rookie of the Year and Cliff Lee was a postseason hero. 

    But now Lee is gone, so we'll see if the Rangers can get enough from their pitching staff to once again take the AL West crown.

    Throughout this article, you will see a number between seven and ten beside each player.  These numbers break the players up into essential categories; here's a rough layout. 

    10: Best player/pitcher in baseball

    9-plus: Superstar, MVP/Cy Young Candidates

    8-plus: Consistent All-Star

    7.5: Periodical All-Star

    7.25: Solid Starter

    7: Average Player


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    C Yorvit Torrealba: 7

    1B Mitch Moreland: 7

    2B Ian Kinsler: 8

    SS Elvis Andrus: 7.5 

    3B Adrian Beltre: 7.75

    Yorvit Torrealba (32) 325 AB .271 BA 31 R 7 HR 37 RBI 7 SB 

    • The Rangers used five different catchers a year ago, so I expect Torrealba, Mike Napoli and Taylor Teagarden to all get playing time.  Torrealba is a compact hitter who sprays line drives, while Napoli brings power.


    Mitch Moreland (25) 145 AB .255 BA 20 R 9 HR 25 RBI 3 SB

    • Moreland is a patient hitter with a short stroke.  He hit .348 in the postseason.  He doesn't have a lot of range at first, but has sure hands and a solid arm.


    Ian Kinsler (28) 391 AB .286 BA 73 R 9 HR 45 RBI 15 SB

    • Kinsler gets good leverage and hits off of his back foot.  He generates good bat speed and turns on fastballs on the inner-half.  He's adequate in the field.


    Elvis Andrus (22) 588 AB .265 BA 88 R 0 HR 35 RBI 22 SB

    • Andrus, in my opinion, should've won the gold glove last year.  He has amazing range and has an strong arm from the hole.  He likes the ball up and hits line drives with limited power. 


    Adrian Beltre (32) 589 AB .321 BA 84 R 28 HR 102 RBI 2 SB

    • Beltre tore it up in one season in Boston and got paid.  He gets a lot of bat speed and hits off of his back foot.  He's a slick fielder with good range and a hose for an arm.


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    LF Josh Hamilton: 9.5 

    CF Julio Borbon: 7

    RF Nelson Cruz: 7.25

    DH Michael Young: 7.25


    Josh Hamilton (29) 518 AB .359 BA 95 R 32 HR 100 RBI 8 SB

    • If Hamilton can stay healthy over the course of an entire season, you can make the case that he's the best all-around player in the game.  When Hamilton is locked in, he carries the Rangers.  He has outstanding bat speed and has great power to all fields.  He can play all three outfield positions and takes good routes to the ball.


    Julio Borbon (25) 438 AB .276 BA 60 R 3 HR 42 RBI 15 SB

    • Borbon has an undisciplined approach and needs to be more selective so he can use his speed on the basepaths.  He uses his speed in the outfield, but he doesn't have a strong throwing arm.


    Nelson Cruz (30) 399 AB .318 BA 60 R 22 HR 78 RBI 17 SB

    • Cruz has great bat speed and leverage with a lot of pop.  He hit six home runs in the postseason.  He dealt with hamstring issues for most of the season.  He makes the plays he needs to in right and he has a strong arm.


    Michael Young (34) 656 AB .284 BA 99 R 21 HR 91 RBI 4 SB

    • The rumors have swirled all Spring Training long about whether or not Young will be traded.  He's not happy to be strictly a DH.  As a hitter, Young has very good plate coverage.

Starting Pitching

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    C.J. Wilson: 7.25

    Brandon Webb: 7

    Colby Lewis; 7

    Tommy Hunter: 7

    Derek Holland: 7

    C.J. Wilson (30) 204 IP 15-8 3.35 ERA 1.25 WHIP 170 K

    • Wilson made the transition from reliever to starter last season and had a solid year.  He gets good run on his low to mid-90's fastball.  He has a sharp, late breaking slider, big curveball and changeup.


    Brandon Webb (31) DNP

    • It's a complete mystery what the Rangers will get out of Webb.  He's missed the last two years due to shoulder trouble and will not return until at least early May.  The former Cy Young award winner is known for his dominant sinker.


    Colby Lewis (31) 201 IP 12-13 3.72 ERA 1.19 WHIP 196 K

    • After two years in Japan, Lewis came back to the states and pitched well.  He has a low-90's fastball, changeup and a quick-breaking slider.  His curveball is inconsistent. 


    Tommy Hunter (24) 128 IP 13-4 3.73 ERA 1.24 WHIP 68 K

    • Hunter started 8-0 last year.  He has an over-the-top delivery with a low-90's fastball.  He also has a downer curveball and straight changeup.


    Derek Holland (24) 57 IP 3-4 4.08 ERA 1.38 WHIP 54 K

    • Holland offers upside and is a sleeper this year in the rotation.  He has been injury prone.  He has a solid fastball to go along with a good slider and a developing changeup.


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    RP Arthur Rhodes: 7

    RP Darren O'Day: 7

    RP Darren Oliver: 7

    SU Alexi Ogando: 7

    CP Neftali Feliz: 8


    Arthur Rhodes, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver

    • The middle relief struggled last year and they got exposed nationally in Game One of the ALCS last season.  Arthur Rhodes was acquired in the offseason.


    Alexi Ogando (27) 41 IP 4-1 0 SV 1.30 ERA 1.13 WHIP 39 K

    • Ogando has a skinny frame, but he can get his fastball up into the upper-90's.  He has a big breaking slider and hard changeup.  He'll be the closer of the future if Feliz eventually joins the starting rotation.


     Neftali Feliz (26) 66 IP 1-2 43 SV 1.78 ERA 1.05 WHIP 71 K

    • With little depth in the starting rotation, Feliz should be starting, but the Rangers made the decision to keep him in the closer role.  He has a huge upper-90s fastball to go along with a sharp breaking curveball.  He will need to add another secondary pitch to start.

Sizing Up the Rangers on Paper

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    Projected Lineup

    1. Ian Kinsler: 8

    2. Elvis Andrus: 7.5

    3. Josh Hamilton: 9.5

    4. Adrian Beltre: 7.75

    5. Nelson Cruz: 7.25

    6. Michael Young: 7.25

    7. Mitch Moreland: 7

    8. Yorvit Torrealba: 7

    9. Julio Borbon: 7


    Projected Starting Rotation 

    C.J. Wilson: 7.25

    Brandon Webb: 7

    Colby Lewis; 7

    Tommy Hunter: 7

    Derek Holland: 7



    RP Arthur Rhodes: 7

    RP Darren O'Day: 7

    RP Darren Oliver: 7

    SU Alexi Ogando: 7

    CP Neftali Feliz: 8


    Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Taylor Teagarden, David Murphy : 7.25



    Ron Washington: 7


    INF: 37.25

    OF: 23.75

    SP: 35.25

    RP: 7

    CP: 15

    MISC: 14.25

    Hitting: 61

    Pitching: 57.5

    TOTAL: 132.75


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    The lineup remains one of the game's elite, but without Cliff Lee, the starting rotation once again becomes a question mark.

    Brandon Webb is the x-factor for Texas this season.

    Prediction: 86-77 2nd AL West (Loses in playoff to LA Angels)