2014 Texas Rangers Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

2014 Texas Rangers Preview

Welcome to the 2014 Texas Rangers Preview! Last year could only be described as a disappointment for Texas Rangers’ Fantasy Baseball fans, as they went from No. 1 in team batting in 2012 to No. 8 last year.

However, not all was lost as Yu Darvish finished as the AL runner-up in the Cy Young voting and Adrian Beltre continued to be a top-five producer at third base.

After a busy offseason, highlighted by the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, along with full-time production from Jurickson Profar — things are looking up again in Arlington.

You can find the rest of the “Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30 Team Previews” here, as they’ll be posted over the next couple weeks.

Projected 2014 Texas Rangers “Go-To” Lineup

  1. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Prince Fielder, 1B
  4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  5. Alex Rios, RF
  6. Mitch Moreland, DH
  7. Geovany Soto, C
  8. Jurickson Profar, 2B
  9. Leonys Martin, CF

Projected Pitchers:

Yu Darvish, 2014 Texas Rangers Preview, Keith Allison

Rangers P Yu Darvish led the majors with 277 strikeouts in 2013, despite 19 other pitchers throwing more than his 209 innings. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

  • SP1 Yu Darvish RHP
  • SP2 Derek Holland LHP
  • SP3 Matt Harrison LHP
  • SP4 Alexi Ogando RHP
  • SP5 Colby Lewis RHP
  • P Nick Tepesch  RHP
  • P Martin Perez LHP
  • Setup man: Joakim Soria RHP
  • Closer: Neftali Feliz RHP

Fantasy Stud(s): Prince Fielder, Shin Soo Choo

The biggest question in my 2014 Texas Rangers Preview is, how will the move to Arlington effect the two new guys?

Let’s start with Fielder. I really do want to believe that Fielder’s move to Texas will reignite him, but I just don’t see a huge return to dominance for the big man. As noted by Chad Young, moving to the Ballpark at Arlington may not have a great impact on Fielder’s power production. As far as counting stats, he goes from playing for the No. 2 overall run-scoring team in 2013 to the possible No. 1 overall lineup, so I don’t see a lot of change in production there either. I could see him hitting 30 long balls and driving in 100-plus runs and hitting .280.

As for Choo, in his age 31 season, he put up the best OBP of his career in 2013 to go with 721 PAs, and he managed to squeeze in 21 HR and 20 SB. Can he actually get to 700-plus PAs next year? Only 11 players had as many PAs (including Fielder) and they were all younger than Choo. I see regression coming in terms of his walk rate (career high 15.7% last year), IFFB% (0.8% last year) with an accompanying regression in line-drive rate, as well. However, he’ll still score 100-plus runs, but I wouldn’t count on a return to a .400 OBP or a 20/20 season, but it’ll be close. Add to that his well-documented problems with LHP, and his upside will be limited.

Breakout Candidate: Jurickson Profar

First, there is just not enough data (341 total plate appearances in the majors) to definitively make any statements about Profar’s MLB ability yet. At the very least he held his own against the best competition in the world at age 20, slashing a .234/.308/.336 line and basically a neutral WAR for 2013. Keith Law still thinks Profar will be fine, labeling him a future superstar.

Furthermore, his minor-league high walk/low strikeout profile portend future success. While it’s true he doesn’t have elite tools, his above average skills across the board and great baseball acumen will make him a valuable Fantasy asset. He finally has a full-time position and no one looking over his shoulder. Most likely he’ll be hitting near the bottom of the lineup to begin the year, but there’s still reason to believe that he could have some nice counting stats by the end of the year. This year, you can expect some ups and downs but pencil him in at .270 BA, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 70 Runs, 8-10 SBs, and .345 OBP. I think he’s completely under the radar right now.

Adrian Beltre, KensRefuge, 2014 Texas Rangers Preview

Only Miguel Cabrera has averaged more HR and RBI among third basemen than Adrian Beltre’s 33 and 100 since 2011. Photo Credit: KensRefuge

Sleeper Candidate: Martin Perez

Martin Perez could be the biggest “X-factor” in real life, as well as Fantasy for the Rangers this year. The lefty will only be 23 years old in 2014, has a legitimate three-to-four pitch arsenal that includes a four-seamer, change, slider, and sinker. He throws 91-95 MPH (good enough velocity from the left side for sixth-best in the majors), has a great whiff-inducing changeup (No. 14 overall whiff/swing rate), and a nice groundball inducing sinker.

Perez has always been promoted mercilessly by the front-office brass and hasn’t been able to pitch in the most favorable environments, and this could be why his performance has always lagged behind his stuff. If everything clicks, you could have a solid back-end starter who could net you double-digit wins with an ERA around 4.00.

Bust Candidate: Elvis Andrus

This is no slam dunk because, to date, Elvis has been a fairly consistent producer at a terrible offensive position. However, in 2013, we saw a continuation of a few troubling trends from the last few years: the strikeout rate increased, the walk rate dipped, and the ISO fell to .060 (last among SS with qualified PAs). On average, he’s being selected with the 51st overall pick (sixth SS off the board), but it took a brilliant second half (.313/.369/.405) just to make it to a .296 wOBA and 78 wRC+. This year will be telling — maybe he rebounds and has a nice year, but he could just as easily fall right out of the top 10 shortstops, as well.

Top Rookie: Michael Choice

Snagged in the deal that sent CF Craig Gentry to Oakland, Choice is the only qualified rookie on the roster at the moment. Unfortunately, after the signing of Choo, it looks like he’ll be relegated to pinch-hit duties against lefties for now. Any injuries to Choo or Alex Rios could open up some playing time for Choice. He has raw power, good bat speed, and a decent approach at the dish, so he’d be someone to keep an eye on.

What Should You Know?

From an offensive perspective, Texas could have an enormous Fantasy season. Scoring runs and hitting the long ball have never been a problem for the Rangers, and by adding some great pieces this offseason, look for the offense to rebound in a big way. Outside of Darvish and a possible step forward for Perez, there’s not a lot of Fantasy love to go around with the pitching staff. However, don’t sleep on Neftali Feliz as a solid source of saves this season either.

Once again, don’t forget the rest of the “Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30 Team Previews” here, as they’ll be posted over the next couple weeks.

FakeTeams.com is your one-stop shop for all things Fantasy Baseball. Right now is the perfect time to visit, as we are in the midst of releasing our consensus rankings for 2014. In addition, we’ve devoted a whole week to giving you comprehensive coverage of each position on the diamond including: player analysis, sleepers/busts, prospect watch, targets/avoids, auction values, projections, draft strategy, and much more. Come join the banter, and follow me on Twitter (@agape4argentina).

*All stats for my 2014 Texas Rangers Preview come courtesy of Fangraphs.com and Baseball Prospectus, and special thanks for scouting reports on Martin Perez from Josh Sickles at Minor League Ball, and from Richard Durrett on Michael Choice.

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