The Texas Rangers were one win away from competing for the American League Pennant last season, but an implosion of epic proportions ended their season sooner than they would have liked. Instead of getting trigger happy, the Rangers organization decided to keep the team largely in tact this offseason and it looks like they could be greatly rewarded. Texas has some long odds to win the World Series, sitting at +2200 entering Spring Training, but this team could improve from their AL West winning performance last year.
The Rangers were one of the best teams in baseball at mashing the ball last season as they finished with the third-most runs in the league. Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Andre Beltre all finished within the top 25 payers in the American League in RBI’s and batting average in 2015. Texas remains largely unchanged except for the addition of Ian Desmond who will slot into left field to fill in for the perpetually hurt Josh Hamilton.
If the Rangers want to be looked at as a true contender this season they need their pitching to be better. The team posted a collective ERA of 4.24 while posting the second-fewest strikeouts and the seventh-most walks. A midseason trade for Cole Hamels certainly helped the team last season, but the starting rotation is pretty blasé past that. The real question mark is whether or not Yu Darvish will regain his All-Star ability following his back surgery. If the Japanese pitcher can come back at full strength than he and Hamels could be the most lethal one-two punches in the MLB.
It has only been five years since the Rangers made back-to-back World Series appearances, but the team has had a serious makeover with only a handful of players still around and contributing in Arlington. Before Texas gets ahead of themselves though, they will just need to make the playoffs out of the hyper-competitive AL West.
The Rangers, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels all finished the regular season with between 85 and 88 wins last season and none of those three appear to be in line for a step back this year. One thing looking up for the Rangers is just how frequently teams have won the AL West crown in consecutive seasons. The AL West has seen a repeat champion in six of the past 10 seasons.
In the grand scheme of things, a win total of 84.5 is pretty modest for the Rangers. Texas has eclipsed that mark in six of their past seven seasons, with the 2014 season being the lone outlier. However, 19 games against the Astros and Angels each means that this team will need to likely dominate Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s (not hard to imagine) to hit that total.
Hopes are high for the Rangers, but the AL West is no cakewalk. Can they make the postseason? Of course. But if they want to make the World Series they will need a few pieces to fall into place.
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|American League Pennant||+900|
|American League West||+210|
Odds as of March 9 at Sportsbook