Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Texas Rangers
Projected Starting Lineup
C Jonathan Lucroy—Some Fantasy owners will take Posey, others will take Sanchez, but I will take Lucroy. Lucroy usually goes about a round later than the other two catchers, and his numbers might just be as good. I like how he fits into the Rangers lineup, and I think he is in store for an All-Star type of season.
1B Mike Napoli—While everyone is taking Jose Abreu in the 5th round, it might just pay to wait for about six or seven rounds and take Mike Napoli. Napoli will never be a high average hitter, but I do expect him to hit north of .250 this year. Moreover, I think that he can repeat a 30/100 season especially if he receives 550+ at bats.
2B Rougned Odor—Odor is one of my favorite Fantasy players as he offers a great blend of both power and speed. Still only 23, it seems like Odor has even more to offer Fantasy owners, especially when it comes to speed (20 bases would make him a certain 3rd round pick).
SS Elvis Andrus—I don’t tend to draft Andrus as I find him to be a one trick pony. His average has never taken the jump to .300 as I would have hoped it would (he’s still somewhat of a free swinger), he has little power to speak of, and he doesn’t score enough runs. Simply put, he is a slightly better version of Alcides Escobar, and he goes for way more money than he should at auctions.
3B Adrian Beltre—Will he ever slow down? I won’t be in on the Beltre bidding not because I don’t think he can go 20/85 again, but because I think those stats will cost me about $15. Why not take Mike Moustakas or Nick Castellanos instead and save a few bucks for similar numbers?
OF Nomar Mazara—It’s easy to forget that Mazara is only 21 years old. He was so good last year as a rookie that people thought that he looked about five or six years older. Mazara is still not without imperfections. He strikes out too much, and he has struggled with tough LHP. The Rangers may need to be patient with him, but if they are in a pennant race, they won’t have that luxury. If that ends up being the case, Mazara might fall victim to a platoon situation which would not be good for his overall numbers.
OF Carlos Gomez—It was just two years ago when I took Gomez 8th overall at the FSTA draft. He was injured that year and struggled in the first half of 2016 as well. It wasn’t until Gomez was traded to Texas that we saw glimpses of the player who dazzled in Milwaukee. After killing Fantasy owners for the past two years, Gomez might be able to be owned at a discount this season which is a great thing for astute Fantasy players. Look for him to get close to 20/20 once again so long as he can stay injury free.
OF Jurickson Profar—Profar is a player I will look at in an AL only format mainly because he might be able to qualify for a number of positions over the course of the season. He has limited to no value in mixed league formats until he gets traded and gets a starting job.
DH Shin-Soo Choo—Long gone are the days when Choo was a 20-20 threat. Now I see him as a name I call out at drafts hoping people spend more money as they relive his successful days of the past. The “new” Choo is nothing more than a player who hits less than .250 and whose speed has been in steady decline.
SP Cole Hamels—Hamels is a workhorse, throwing for over 200 IP for the past seven years. He has also been very consistent in that time except last year as we saw his walk totals begin creeping up. If they can go back down again, Hamels is a top twenty pitcher for sure. If they continue to rise, his WHIP is in jeopardy, and his value will begin to diminish. I still like Hamels, but I think I will let someone else take the ride with him in 2017.
SP Yu Darvish—You can’t go wrong when you take Darvish as your SP1 in Fantasy Baseball. His strikeout totals are incredible, and this might be the year that you can even get him a dollar or two under his value as people worry about his injury risk. You can’t win a Fantasy title without taking risks, can Yu?
SP Martin Perez—I have been waiting for Perez to improve as a pitcher, but I think he has settled into mediocrity. While he might be able to win a dozen games, his ERA should be in the 4.00+, and he only had 103 Ks in 198 IP which is a killer in total strikeouts and K/IP.
SP A.J. Griffin—Griffin’s last good year was 2013 when he was with the A’s. He might flash once or twice over the course of the season, but he is not someone who can be trusted to pitch consistently enough to help a Fantasy roster.
RP Matt Bush—People may have forgotten that Bush was the Number 1 pick in the 2004 draft. Injuries pretty much derailed his career until he resurfaced in Texas last season. At Texas, Bush showed a real propensity for the bullpen. He throws a 97 MPH fastball and showed the team that he is capable of more if something should happen to Dyson. For now, consider Bush a solid setup man, but the upside is there for saves if things break his way.
RP Jeremy Jeffress—Jeffress was doing a great job closing for the Brewers until they decided to trade him in the Lewis Brinson deal. Once he arrived in Texas, the team moved him from closer to the setup role where he remained for the rest of the season. If Dyson were to lose the job, Jeffress has the pedigree to close, but I am not sure that he will be given the chance. I like him way more in leagues that value holds.
Closer Sam Dyson—Shawn Childs got on me for saying that Dyson is not a soft-tossing reliever, but I have a policy not to roster closers who don’t strike out a ton of guys. Dyson has proven effective since he has been given the job, but at the end of the day, I can’t trust him like I can another guy with a higher K rate.