Team preview: Texas Rangers
1. 2B: Ian Kinsler
2. SS: Elvis Andrus
3. RF: Josh Hamilton
4. 3B: Adrian Beltre
5. LF: Nelson Cruz
6. DH: Michael Young
7. C: Mike Napoli
8. 1B: Mitch Moreland
9. CF: Julio Borbon
1. SP: C.J. Wilson
2. SP: Colby Lewis
3. SP: Tommy Hunter
4. SP: Derek Holland
5. SP: Brandon Webb/Matt Harrison/Michael Kirkman
CL: Neftali Feliz
• Andrus looks to be improving as a hitter, but there’s no sign of more power coming in the near future. His stolen-base total could go up if he hits for better average, though.
• I really like Hamilton and Cruz, but their penchant for injuries needs to be factored into their draft status. Hamilton is 15th, and Cruz is 31st in my overall rankings. Cruz was on the disabled list three different times with hamstring issues last season.
• Ditto for Kinsler. Even though he missed a third of the season, he still hit 22 homers and stolen 17 bases with a .318 batting average. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and it keeps Kinsler in the top three rounds of standard league drafts. Sorry, but I still haven’t shaken my fantasy man-crush on Kinsler.
• I know what you’re thinking. "Brandon Webb used to be really good. Sure, he had some injury issues, but he could be a nice sleeper." Yes, he could. He’s also started one game over the last two seasons. Unless your league allows for a deep bench that lets you stash players for a rainy day without much consequence, avoid Webb and let someone else take the risk. Like a lottery ticket, he’s unlikely to pay off. He’s already a longshot to be ready for Opening Day.
• Will 2011 be Mr. Holland’s Opus? What, too obscure? Too dated? Anyway, the 24-year-old lefty Holland throws hard, whiffs plenty of batters and has decent control. Standard leaguers will want to keep Holland on their free-agent watch lists instead of drafting him, but he could be in line for a nice step forward.
• Odd man out: As usual, outfielder David Murphy will need to wait for a Cruz/Hamilton injury or another flop from Borbon to get playing time. Since all of those scenarios have decent odds of happening, Murphy should again play enough to have AL-only value.
Perennial slugging prospect Chris Davis doesn’t have a lineup slot, especially with Napoli ready to shuttle between catcher and first base (will occasionally spell Moreland). Yorvit Torrealba will catch when Napoli doesn’t.
• Top prospects: Tanner Scheppers – a.k.a. Nasty McFilthy – could provide midseason help as a starter or reliever. Little lefty Martin Perez has the talent to dominate minor-league hitters and make the jump later this season. Perez has big-time talent, but he’s only age 20 and had a rough time at Double A last season.
• Backup closer: With Frank Francisco off to Toronto, flame-throwing Alexei Ogando should be next in line if Feliz misses any time (assuming that Feliz will close). Ogando’s fastball averaged 96.3 mph with the Rangers last season – wow. Mark Lowe could be in the mix as well.