The Rangers are building something now, and we figure it could stick this time around because it is backed by improved pitching. They still are more about run producers for us in Fantasy, but the offense makes them a potential contender and their pitchers potential winners for Fantasy owners.
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You have to love the addition of Vladimir Guerrero to this lineup, especially since he has such great numbers in Texas -- even if much of that was feasting on bad pitchers. Guerrero is too old for us to consider a breakout or sleeper, but he will be among the undervalued Rangers in the non-pitcher category.
The list of players we haven't seen the best of yet doesn't end there, though.
Breakout: Chris Davis, 1B
Davis was supposed to be a breakout last year, but instead he proved to be a bust. A funny thing happens when Fantasy owners jump too quickly off a talented young player's bandwagon: He gets overlooked and winds up undervalued. That could be Davis now. We project a .258 average, 27 homers, 84 RBI, 70 runs and one steal for him, but he is capable of far more in the power and run production categories. Even in his disappointing second season, Davis showed marked improvement in the second half, hitting .308 with six homers, 26 RBI and 17 runs in just 133 at-bats. Davis is a nice late-round pick-up at a very deep first base position.
Bust: Michael Young, 3B
It is not that we don't like Young. We will remind you, picking busts requires naming a player whose decline you might not see coming. He remains a solid Fantasy pick on Draft Day, especially coming off his .322-21 campaign. The problem lies with his loyal long-time Fantasy owners that will continue to pick him as if he were still shortstop-eligible. He loses that this spring and is 3B-only now, which should downgrade him a few rounds at least. Also, he happens to have turned 33 this winter. Age 32 tends to be the end of a player's prime. Young figures to begin to decline. We already saw a sign of that last year, as his at-bats fell below 600 for the first time since his first full season in 2002.
Sleeper: Julio Borbon, OF
Borbon has some incredible potential in his first full season, if he wins the starting center fielder's job and runs with it -- quite literally. We project 40 steals, but after stealing 19 with just 157 at-bats, we might have to upgrade that total once he officially wins the starting job and is named the leadoff man. Borbon doesn't have a whole lot in the way of immediate power, though, so consider him far more of a Rotisserie gem.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Julio Borbon||CF||1||Rich Harden||RH|
|2||Michael Young||3B||2||Scott Feldman||RH|
|3||Ian Kinsler||2B||3||Tommy Hunter||RH|
|4||Vladimir Guerrero||DH||4||Brandon McCarthy||RH|
|5||Josh Hamilton||RF||5||Neftali Feliz||RH|
|6||Nelson R. Cruz||LF||Alt||Colby Lewis/Matt Harrison/Derek Holland||SP|
|7||Chris Davis||1B||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||C||CL||Frank Francisco||RH|
|9||Elvis Andrus||SS||SU||C.J. Wilson||LH|
|Top bench options||RP||Darren O'Day||RH|
|R||David Murphy||OF||RP||Chris Ray||RH|
|R||Khalil Greene||SS||RP||Darren Oliver||LH|
|1||Neftali Feliz||21||RH SP||Majors||Majors|
|If he doesn't win a rotation spot, we have to figure the Rangers will slot him in the bullpen to start the year.|
|Davis came around in the second half, but if he regresses again, Smoak will be there to take his starting job.|
|3||Martin Perez||18||LH SP||Double-A||Double-A|
|You have to love 18-year-olds reaching Double-A, but he is still too raw to expect to arrive this season.|
|4||Kasey Kiker||22||LH SP||Double-A||Triple-A|
|We like his potential, but there is surprisingly a waiting list for the Rangers' young rotation right now.|
|5||Tanner Scheppers||23||RH SP||DNP -- signed late||Double-A|
|The 2009 first-round pick could be a starter or a closer long term; his first pro season will be interesting.|
|Best of the rest: Engel Beltre, OF; Max Ramirez, C; Jurickson Profar, SS; Robbie Ross, SP; Mitch Moreland 1B; Danny Gutierrez, SP; Wilmer Font, SP; Michael Main, SP; Eric Hurley, SP; Blake Beavan, SP; Wilfredo Boscan, SP; Neil Ramirez, SP; Joe Wieland, SP; Kennil Gomez, SP; Tim Murphy, SP; Omar Poveda, SP; Clark Murphy, 1B; Tommy Mendonca, 3B; Joaquin Arias, SS; and Guillermo Moscoso, RP.|
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