The first half of the 2010 season has been pretty amazing for the Rangers, they are leading the division and they just had five Rangers elected to the All-Star Game. The obvious choice was Josh Hamilton who will start in the outfield for the American League and has had an amazing year by himself so far this season. In June he set a Rangers record for 49 hits in the month.
Rangers newcomer Vladimir Guerrero who came over from the Angels this past off season will start for the American League as the designated hitter. Closer Neftali Feliz also got the nod after assuming the closer position in early April which is pretty amazing. Since assuming the closing role he has shown that he deserves it and could eventually be a mainstay there for several years even though the organization’s long term plan for him is as a starter.
Another All-Star Closer Mariano Rivera who is one of the greatest closers of all time was supposed to be a starter, but ended up excelling as a closer and will enter the hall of fame as a closer. Once the season is complete the Rangers should seriously consider leaving Feliz in the closer position.
Two more Rangers will be in the dugout in Anaheim for the All-Star Game. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was elected as an infield reserve and should get into the game for some action in his first All-Star appearance in only his second season. Second baseman Ian Kinsler will make his second All-Star appearancein his fifth season.
Josh Hamilton will be making his third consecutive All-Star appearance in three seasons in a Texas uniform. So far this season he has hit .339 in 78 games with 60 RBI’s and 20 home runs. His best month came in June which helped push him into All-Star consideration when he hit .454 with nine home runs and 31 RBI”s. He has elected to not participate in the Home Run Derby to not affect his swing so look for Hamilton to have a strong second half pushing the Rangers into postseason play.
When Vladimir Guerrero came over from the Angels it was like getting two gifts for the price of one. Not only can he hit, but you are taking him away from a division rival, so I would have to say he was the best off season pickup by the Rangers. So far this season he has had Hamilton like numbers hitting .330 with 70 RBI’s. The most ironic part of Guerrero’s selection this season is that the game is being held in Anahiem where he last played and there is only one player appearing for the Angels in Torii Hunter and there are five for the Rangers.
In Spring Training we all assumed the Rangers pitching staff was strong, especially the bullpen. The Rangers had Frank Francisco coming back to close games and Neftali Feliz pitching before him as the eighth inning setup guy. The bullpen looked strong, so it was assumed the Rangers had nothing to worry about. Then Francisco struggled mightily and Feliz was moved into the closer position as an interim closer until Francisco could get his stuff worked out.
Eventually both players excelled in their new roles and Feliz picked up his first All-Star selection after converting 22 of 24 save opportunities and posting a 3.00 ERA. He currently has a record of 1-2. Although he has not been the lights out closer that most teams expect to see he has been effective and in turn earned himself an All-Star Selection.
I am sure most Rangers fans were disappointed when the Rangers traded away Mark Teixeira, although nobody knew what they were getting in return in a shortstop prospect known as Elvis Andrus. Andrus was not the only player the Rangers received in that trade but he has seemed to make the greatest impact.
The organization believed so much in his talent that before the 2009 season the Rangers asked veteran Michael Young to move from shortstop which he has occupied since Alex Rodriquez was traded away to third base to make room for Andrus. Young was a little hesitant at first, but he eventually made the move and the Rangers have an All-Star shortstop in Andrus.
Speaking of Micheal Young, although he was not elected to the All-Star game through the normal process he is one of five American League players who could occupy the 34th rooster position for the American League and Manager Joe Girardi. I would love to see the Rangers represented with a six player at the All-Star game, but I am sure Young would also like the well deserved rest.
The last player for the Rangers selected to appear in the All-Star game is Ian Kinsler. He is a rooster replacement for an injured Dustin Pedroia who is currently 0n the disabled list with broken foot after taking a foul ball of it. The Red Sox rooster is overall banged up, so Pedroia being down is no surprise.
In 58 game so far this season Kinsler is hitting .299 with 3 home runs and 26 RBI’s. Late in Spring Training earlier this year Kinsler sprained his ankle quite severely and he missed a good portion of the first part of the season, so the fact that he made it to the All-Star game is pretty amazing.
One Rangers player missing from the All-Star rooster is Nelson Cruz who was the first Rangers player to ten home runs this season. Unfortunately two separate hamstring injuries on two separate legs which resulted into separate disabled list stays essentially ended his All-Star chances, although his numbers were All-Star worthy just not enough games played. The rest of the Rangers rooster should enjoy the All-Star break, take time to relax and get ready to make the push towards October Baseball in Arlington.