Position by Position Breakdown: Have the Texas Rangers Gotten Better This Offseason? Part Two
By Lee Stitzel
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday I began a position by position analysis of the Texas Rangers’s new look offense. Today shortstop, third and right field are broken down.
4 Homeruns; 78 wRC+; 2.8 WAR
Elvis Andrus’s 2013 was a tale of two halves with Andrus bringing an abysmal 56 wRC+ in the first half and a much better 111 in the second half. It would be nice to see Andrus keep up the 111 but Texas probably is not counting on that. None the less, Andrus is likely to again take the majority of plate appearances at shortstop. Andrus should be good for slightly below league average production in 2014, which would be a welcome improvement over a paltry 2013.
Andrus bounces back to his roughly 90 wRC+ career average.
30 Homeruns; 131 wRC+; 5.0 WAR
Adrian Beltre manned the hot corner most of the year, garnering 690 of the 720 plate appearances by a third baseman in 2013. He will again hold down the hot corner and will be looked to for a bulk of the production from the position. Beltre posted a healthy 135 wRC+ in 2013, which continued his trend of being better in Texas than anywhere he had played before his Texas stint started. Jon Daniels does not get enough credit for finding a superstar when Beltre appeared to be a good, but not a truly great player, before landing in Arlington. Beltre is now 34 and while he has to slow down at some point, he has shown no signs of doing so. Last year was another all-star caliber year, although he was not honored as so. He will have the luxury of hitting adjacent to Prince this year so I expect any decline in skill will be offset by seeing more pitches to hit and more opportunities to produce.
Beltre should turn in a well above average year in the 125-135 wRC+ range.
33 Homeruns; 113 wRC+; 2.9 WAR
Alex Rios and Nelson Cruz were the two main contributors in 2013. Cruz picked up 457 plate appearances and Rios got 197. Cruz had a very solid year prior to being suspended. He came up with a 133 wRC+. Rios was more pedestrian with a 105 wRC+. This year Rios has right field all to himself. For his career Rios is above average. He has been around 115 wRC+ most years, with some better and a few worse. He is on the wrong side of 30 now and at 32 it is not fair to expect more from Rios going forward. Michael Choice may also get some reps in right field and expectations should not be high for him yet, but the amount of plate appearances should be minimal so his impact should be limited.
An optimistic projection is for Rios to provide 115 wRC+, which represents roughly the same production as last year.
Tomorrow the series finishes with center field, left field and designated hitter.