During the 2013 Hot Stove season the Texas Rangers picked up Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo to help make the lineup one of the best in the majors. Last year around this time Buster Olney put out the top 10 lineups in the majors.
Undoubtedly the acquisition of Fielder and Choo helped push the Rangers to the top of that list. Here is what Olney had to say about the Rangers last year.
"“The Rangers’ front office saw the flaws in the team’s batting order, the lack of left-handed power, and have aggressively reached for repairs. But it’s not as if the Texas offense was a black hole in 2013: The Rangers finished eighth out of 30 teams in runs, and now they’ve added two left-handed hitters who ranked among the top 30 in the majors in on-base percentage, in Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. There is notable risk in the long term in Fielder and Choo, given the Rangers’ seven-year investments in each,..” (Adam Boedeker – NBC Dallas)"
Besides being rated as the number one lineup in the majors the Texas Rangers were also favored to reach the World Series last year. But, instead of having the best lineup in the majors or even reaching the playoffs the Rangers ended up having one of their worst seasons in franchise history. It wasn’t due to the lack of talent, but mainly due to a surplus of bad luck and injuries.
This Hot Stove season the Texas Rangers really haven’t done much to better the team, but overall they shouldn’t have to do much to the team. They still have a decent starting rotation with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Ross Detwiler, Nick Martinez and Colby Lewis. The 2015 rotation isn’t set by any means just yet, that just a rotation they could possibly use to start the season.
Also, next season they will have almost every player back to 100% from this disabled list with the exception of Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar. More than likely Perez will be the only one to return next season around the All-star break.
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If the baseball gods have mercy on the Texas Rangers and bring luck and good fortune to them instead of pain, misery and tons of injures then players like Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus should bounce back next season. If those 3 players are able to do that then the Rangers will be able to control the American League West and make a trip to the playoffs.
Right now the trade for Fielder and the free-agent signing of Choo doesn’t seem like a good decision. Both players still have plenty of tank in the gas to play at a high level and how that they are healthy are set to finally show Rangers fans what they can do. One thing I expect is for Fielder to get off to a hot start and show off his power hitting next season. It won’t take 16-20 games for him to get his first home run or to have a decent batting average. As for Choo he’ll do his thing get on base to help score runs and build early leads for the Rangers.
The Rangers had the best lineup last year at this time and things really haven’t changed much. It’s hard to tell what will happen in April, but right now they seem to still have a very strong lineup. Last season the injury bug went wild with in the club house, it seems highly unlikely that will happen again. With that said, next season seems pretty bright for the Texas Rangers.