This is my first fantasy preview, so please expect and except major flaws.
The Rangers are known to score runs and struggle to keep them off the board, so don't be surprised if you do not see that many pitchers make the list.
1B Mark Teixeira – In 2006 Teixeira had a down year by his standards as his home runs and RBI dropped to 33 and 110, respectively. Don’t expect him to repeat his 2005 campaign (43 and 144), but most projections see him add 5 more dingers and maybe a dozen RBI. You will see him whiff about 120 times a season, but his walk total has been increasing each year and he might finally top 100 in 2007. Don’t count on him to steal more than a couple of bases though. Teixeira is not top 10 material, but a good pick for the late first round.
The Second Tier
SS Michael Young – There aren’t many shortstops with 100+ RBI and 100 R potential around, but Young has a good chance to get there. He drove in 103 last year and scored 93 times, a career high and four-year-low, respectively. The will strike out twice as much as he will walk, but he’ll still be able to keep his average above 300. He would rank higher hadn’t his home runs dropped from 24 to 14 last season, so at age 31, don’t expect him to reach 20 again. The days when he stole a dozen bases are also probably behind him, so don’t pick him too early. The late second, early third round is when he’s becoming a bargain.
The Third Tier
3B Hank Blalock – Blalock was once considered one of the top third baseman in the AL, but his numbers have been dropping steadily since 2003. He only hit 16 long balls after blasting 32 just two years earlier. He supposedly had shoulder problems last year, but he said he is fine after off-season surgery. With manager Buck Showalter gone, Blalock should be more comfortable and is a good bet for a rebound. .275/.340/.460 with 22 home runs and 90 RBI is a reasonable projection for him. What makes him a risky choice is the fact that he might get platooned if he struggles against southpaws early on.
2B Ian Kinsler – Kinsler had a solid rookie campaign posting a .286/.347/.454 line along with 14 home runs, 65 runs scored and 55 RBI in 423 at-bats. With more playing time, his counting stats should improve, but check out Rangers spring training games to see where he hits since his value is much higher if he’s in the two spot than in the eight or nine spot.
CF Kenny Lofton – Lofton will most likely bat lead-off for the Rangers, so he should score some runs if he continues to get on base at a solid rate (An OPB of .350+ is certainly doable). However, his age will probably not allow him to get enough plate appearances to cash in much more than 80 runs and 20 stolen bases.
SP Kevin Millwood – I would rather not have a starter who plays half his games in Arlington, but Millwood is able to keep the ball in the park reasonably well there and is good for 150 strikeouts, a 1.30 WHIP, 200+ IP and 15 wins. His ERA will be nothing to get excited about though as it figures to be somewhere between 4.00 and 4.50.
DH Sammy Sosa – He could hit more than 20 home runs (although with a .250 average at best), but he could also be in retirement again in April. Take him a chance on him as a bench player if you must, but don’t waste a meaningful pick on him.
CL Eric Gagne – Even more than Sosa, Gagne is a high risk - high reward pick. He could lead the AL in saves and ERA, but he could also sit on the DL from April until September. If you draft him, make sure you also have Akinori Otsuka on your team because he will be the Rangers closer if Gagne injures himself.
MR Akinori Otsuka – His value will rise as soon as Gagne goes down, but if he doesn’t, Otsuka hardly has any value unless your league counts holds. He is a sleeper for the late rounds if you don’t have Gagne.
SP Brandon McCarthy – McCarthy may have the best arm in the rotation, but you never know with young pitchers, especially in Arlington. Reasonable projections see him win 10 games, pitch 150 innings with 120 Ks and a 1.30 WHIP together with an ERA around 4.50. His ceiling is much higher than that, but he has only started 12 games the last two years so he is a big unknown.
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