Organizational Rankings: Current Talent – Texas

The Rangers are coming off of a 87 win campaign in which they finished 10 games back of the Angels. This year CHONE has them winning between 85-86 wins depending on the method, the FANS have them at 84, and PECOTA has them at 83. Those win levels are good for 1st in the West, but the margin is never more than 5 games, and mostly 0-2 games.

The infield returns all four starters from 2009 and project to be above average on the whole. Michael Young, whose offense rebounded in 2009 to post his highest wOBA (0.385) and WAR (3.8) since 2005, returns to man third base. He is projected to see a decline from that level and likely post something in the high 2s or low 3s. Chris Davis brings his feeble contact rates back to play first base again, and is the one of the few position players that projects to be below average at 1.5 WAR. Ian Kinsler projects to be the star of the group at 4 WAR as he projects to combine average defense with above-average offense. The most interesting, at least personally, member of the infield is Elvis Andrus. Yesterday Dave mentioned that he was one of the largest discrepancies between FAN projections (4.1 WAR) and CHONE (1.6 WAR). I could see that window of potential performances being very realistic, which would put his mean somewhere in the upper 2s.

The outfield of Josh Hamilton in left, Julio Borbon in center and Nelson Cruz in right all project to be in the neighborhood of 3 WAR. All three project to be average to above average with the glove and similarly above average with the bat. At DH they will see if they can squeeze some more life out of Vladimir Guerrero, with David Murphy providing a decent fallback option if Vlad’s knees spontaneously combust. The catching duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden don’t project to be world beaters (1.5 WAR each), but that will get you by at that position.

The starting pitching is a lot like the position players in that none of them project to be stars, but they all project to be pretty solid. The closest to a star quality projection would be Rich Harden who projects to have a FIP in the mid-to-upper 3s. The question with Harden is the same as it always is, health. The de facto “Ace” is Scott Feldman and his cutter. The projection systems weren’t overwhelmed by Feldman’s 18 wins and project him to have a FIP in the 4.50 range. Colby Lewis, back from Japan, is a hard player for the forecasters to handle given his lack of MLB experience combined with a dominant year in Japan, but a FIP in the low 4s seems pretty reasonable. The back of the rotation looks like converted reliever C.J. Wilson and Matt Harrison at least for a little while (check out Matt’s piece on C.J.). The wildcard here is Neftali Feliz who is projected to put up a FIP in the mid 3s as a starter, but may spend some time in the pen.

The bullpen looks to be a strength again with closer Frank Francisco, lefty Darren Oliver, and the aforementioned Feliz all having projected FIPs in the mid 3s.

Add all of this up and you have a very solid team with few weaknesses that appears to have solid depth, so it’s no wonder that a lot of the projection systems have them at the top of their division.

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Steve's ramblings about baseball can also be found at Beyond the Box Score and Play a Hard Nine or you can follow him on Twitter

16 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: Current Talent – Texas”

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  1. Waiting says:

    April Fool’s

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  2. Benne says:

    I think we can all see the next three ranks coming:

    3. Rays
    2. Yankees
    1. Red Sox

    Though it wouldn’t surprise me if NY and BOS flip-flopped. The Red Sox may have an edge in front-office, but the Yankees have a scary good team, still have a stupid amount of money and now know how to use it. Maybe they should just share a co-number one spot.

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    • dickey simpkins says:

      The ability to outspend your closest rival by $80 million is so valuable, I don’t think you can argue otherwise.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        You can argue that they only have the ability to outspend the Red Sox by half that figure – with Boston running a $170 million payroll this year, can we please stop whining about them being bullied around by the big bad Yankees?

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      • whonichol says:

        Even a $40 million difference (which will likely widen next year when the Sox’ payments to former players end) is substantial. I don’t know anyone, other than Yankees fans, who claim the Sox are being “bullied”, but to say the difference in spending isn’t substantial is quite a stretch…

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    • Troy says:

      I have a feeling we’ll see Tampa Bay top the rankings. Their front office is tremendous (Fangraphs likey), they have a deep farm system (Fangraphs likey), oh, and they have one of the best rosters in baseball (Fangraphs likey).

      But the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are going to top the rankings, as they well should.

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      • Gary says:

        Yea it should be Tampa, but it might be Boston. The Yanks make quite a few mistakes, like screwing up the development of Joba and not letting Melky have enough playing time, to signings lots of bad contracts, but they have the money to make up for it and know what it takes to win.

        It’s clear though that Tampa is living on a tight rope and are so successful that they’re dancing on it.

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      • Steve says:

        not letting Melky have enough playing time

        wait, what?

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    • RonDom says:

      I think we all saw this when they started this ranking. The middle ground was a mystery, I don’t think any arguments will be had over the top 3 and bottom 3.

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  3. Colby Lewis is the Cy Young of my heart.

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  4. Temo says:

    It’s too early to say for sure, but Feliz’s prospects as a starter are diminishing. His FB velocity is just not enough to get by on (alone) as a starter right now.

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    • philkid3 says:

      It’s way too early to say it.

      No prospect who has that good of a fastball, that easy a release and

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    • philkid3 says:

      I’m sorry, I accidentally hit the submit button.

      No prospect who has that good of a fastball, that easy a release and has flashed plus secondary stuff that often should be anywhere close to bullpen relegation in his early 20s.

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  5. Troy says:

    I have to admit that I see this as a bit of a high ranking for Texas, since I’m not sold on them yet as being the best team in the West, but Jon Daniels has certainly taken big strides since his early days of being GM.

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    • Basil Ganglia says:

      repeated ad nauseum. This is not a ranking the best teams. It is a ranking of how the authors rank the teams going forward for sustained success.

      Where Texas is going to shine is in the future talent assessment. They might not be the best in the west right now, but unless they screw the pooch big-time, they’re likely to be the best by 2011 and for some time afterward.

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    • Bob says:

      Texas was in the wild card race until the last week or two of the season last year, so now with Anaheim appearing to have taken a step back and another year for Texas’s young players to mature the Rangers could very easily waltz into the playoffs.

      Dave mentioned in his Mariners write-up that the two wild cards of Milton Bradley and Erik Bedard give the M’s a shot at 90+ wins if things break right, so imagine how things could go for the Rangers there if they get 140+ games from Josh Hamilton and 25 – 30 starts out of Rich Harden. The Rangers have the talent to be scary good for years to come, starting this year.

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