The Texas Rangers Will Win The West

Last year it seemed improbable, almost impossible; most fans had written the Texas Rangers off as the cellar dwellers of the American League West. Four games below .500 at the All-Star break, they looked to be done for the season. They continued their dismal march through the month of July. Then something happened. Shin-Soo Choo finally started hitting the ball. Prince Fielder became an on-base machine. They also discovered a gem in the speed Delino DeShields. In addition to that, Jon Daniels pulled a rabbit out of his hat, acquiring Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from the Phillies for basically nothing. Just a few days later Daniels went out, and got Mike Napoli.

Those moves, in addition to the acquisition of Josh Hamilton in the off-season, were, as some called them, a sort of getting the band back together, referring to the Rangers World Series teams. All of the sudden the Rangers were a fun team to watch as they steadily climbed to the top, and eventually won the American League West. This year will be a little different though. No, not the outcome. They will win the division again, but they won’t get off to as slow of a start. I expect them to sit atop the American League West most of the season. Here are five reasons the Rangers will win the West.

  1. The Rotation– Last year the Rangers were without arguably one of the best pitchers in the Majors. The absence of Yu Darvish was noticeable at the beginning of the season, and although Yovani Gallardo was decent enough for the team it still didn’t feel like they had an ace until Hamels showed up. This year the team will have both Hamels and Darvish in the rotation, and dare I say that that rivals the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke combo. They may have to wait for Darvish until May, but the wait will be worth it. They will be accompanied by Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and more than likely Martin Perez. The Ranger rotation is probably one of the best in the league as far as talent from 1 to 5, and mixing lefties and righties.
  1. Health- For the first time in several seasons the Rangers are entering the season with a full roster of healthy players. The only set back that they will have to begin the season is waiting for Yu Darvish to return to the rotation. Of course Hamilton and Holland are still on the team, and the two of them seem to miss a couple of months every season. With an already strong lineup Hamilton is important, but the team won’t suffer much if he misses time. Holland missing time would be a huge blow the rotation. The coaching staff will have to keep a closer eye on the both of them more than others.
  1. Coaching- Jeff Bannister was the American League Coach of the Year last year, and it was well deserved. He never gave up on his team, and instilled his motto of “Never Ever Quit” in the locker room. He was able to manage the Rangers through all the low points of last season. It will be interesting to see how Bannister coaches team this year coming off the success of last season. One thing is for sure, he is the best coach in the AL West, and will coach his team not only to the playoffs, but deep into the playoffs.
  1. The Line-Up- The lineup won’t be much different than it was in 2015, but it won’t need to be. The Rangers have one of the most balanced lineups in the league. Between speed, power, and their ability to get on base they will have plenty of opportunities to score. Last year the team saw Choo emerge as a leader late in the season at the plate. Their 2-5 hitters that include Choo, Fielder, Beltre, and Mitch Moreland provide a great mixture of lefties and righties. Bannister does a great job surrounding those guys with speed in DeShields, Elvis Andrus, and the newest Ranger, Ian Desmond. The Rangers will have plenty of opportunity to score a lot, and often this season.
  1. General Manager- Daniels is probably one of the top three General Managers in the league. Some could argue that he is the best. In the last few seasons he has not only acquired Fielder and Hamilton, but he basically got their former teams to pay for their contracts. At the deadline last year he was able to get Hamels for nothing similar to his trade for Cliff Lee in 2010. Daniels is always looking for a deal, and don’t be surprised to see him acquire a big name to help the Rangers in the second half of the season if needed. With his ability to find the talent, and Bannister’s ability to lead the Rangers should have no reason not to repeat as the American League West champions.

One thing we do know is that it is a long season, and the Rangers just like every other team won’t escape it without obstacles. When game 162 ends, look at the top of the American League West division, because that is where you will see the 2016 Texas Rangers.

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