Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Texas Rangers.
After four straight seasons of at least 90 wins from 2010-2013, the Rangers went 67-95 last season, finishing in last place in the American League West. Injuries played a part in that record, with slugging 1B Prince Fielder limited to just 52 games and ace SP Yu Darvish limited to 22 starts. Fielder is back this season but Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month and will be out for the entire season.
Despite Fielder’s absence, the Rangers’ .256 batting average was tied for the fifth-best in the American League. Their home run total suffered, though, without the 25-plus home runs he has hit in each of his full seasons in the majors. The team hit 117 home runs, the second-lowest total in the AL. The team also ranked in the lower half of the league with 3.93 runs per game. The pitching wasn’t much better last season; the staff had the AL’s second-worst ERA last season, at 4.49, and allowed the second-most runs per game, 4.77.
The Rangers are headed into 2015 with essentially the offense they had for most of the 2014 season, with a healthy Fielder, at least to start the season. If Fielder can put up numbers he has in the past when healthy, that will certainly help thre offense. The team did make some moves to add to the pitching staff, namely trading for SPs Yovani Gallardo and Ross Detwiler, whose career ERAs are 3.69 and 3.82, respectively. Gallardo, who is No. 1 on the depth chart, will have to pitch even better than that to make up for the lost production of Darvish, whose career ERA stands at 3.27.
The AL West is a tough division, with the Angels, A’s and Mariners at the top and a significant gap between them and the bottom two teams in the division, including the Rangers. Without Darvish, I don’t think the players the Rangers added are enough to improve the team enough to compete in the West. The Rangers and Astros are likely going to battle for fourth place in the divison, and I think the Rangers will lose that battle to finish in last place for a second straight season.