2010 Texas Rangers Baseball Preview
The Texas Rangers (87- 75) ended the season just 10 games off the pace in 2009, which was their best finish in over five years. A new investment group, which includes MLB legend Nolan Ryan, owns the club and they seem intent on making the Rangers competitive.
Top man in the rotation, Rich Harden (9-9, 4.09 ERA, 171 SO), had to deal with lower back strain last season. When healthy, he has a rangy fastball that peaks at 95-mph. Add in his tricky slider and versatile change and Harden has the stuff to be a top performer. Scott Feldman (17-8, 4.08 ERA, 113 SO), a former reliever, proved to be one heck of a starter in 2009. He offers a late running and sinking two—seam fastball. If Tommy Hunter (9-6, 4.10 ERA, 64 SO) can mix in his cutter, change and curve with his 88-93-mph fastball more often, he’ll be even more effective.
Lefty Derek Holland (8-13, 6.12 ERA, 107 SO) had a fine rookie season. Now that that’s over, the Rangers hope that Holland can take it to the next level. He’s got a wicked fastball, a slider that acts like a cutter, an arcing curve and a deceptive change. Closer Frank Francisco (2-3, 3.83 ERA, 25 SV, 57 SO) offers three pitches to keep batters off-balance, including a 95-mph fastball. Last season, he ended up on the DL twice. The Rangers need him to be healthy.
Much of last season’s offense came from two players—one veteran and one rookie. Third baseman Michael Young (.322 BA, 22 HR, 68 RBI) performed as expected. Along with being a premier hitter, Young is a fine fielder. Center fielder Julio Borbon (.312 BA, 4 HR, 20 RBI) came up from AAA ball and played in less than 50 games, but he made an impact. He’s fast enough to bunt for base hits and he’s a solid base stealer.
Another rookie, Elvis Andrus (.267 BA, 6 HR, 40 RBI), improved at the plate as the season rolled on, making adjustments and learning patience. At short, he can make the tough plays look easy, but he needs to be disciplined on the easy ones. If Josh Hamilton can play injury free and Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz can all get back on track at the plate, the Rangers will have a potent offense.
Manager Ron Washington has assembled one of the best coaching staffs in the majors and he did a fine job in his third season at the helm. If he can get this team to notch five to ten more wins, they certainly have a shot at the playoffs. It will help if GM Jon Daniels, who could not secure free agent starter John Lackey in the off-season, could get one more quality pitcher on the roster.
There’s a lot of positive vibes in Texas. The Rangers do believe that they have the stuff to get into the post season. In 2009, they had the pitching and defense but the offense sputtered. If the offense can produce, there’s nothing to say that these Rangers can’t win the division crown or a wild card spot. But they will have to perform consistently to do so.
For more info on Texas check out the MLB website for the Rangers Clubhouse.