Texas Rangers 2011 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2011 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the Texas Rangers and is written by Ttabs over at MLBeef. MLBeef is a site we’re excited about, and it’s official launch is for Opening Day. If you enjoy Diamond Hoggers, you’re going to love the great baseball mind of Ttabs as well as others over at MLBeef.

Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers previews every team division by division until the start of the regular season.

2010 Review: 90-72 (1st in AL West), AL Champs, World Series Runner Up

What went right?

Josh Hamilton was able to stay healthy and clean which culminated in him realizing his immense physical gifts with a .359/.411/.633 MVP-winning season; the Vladimir Guerrero signing was a godsend as he blasted 29 homers and drove in 115 runs; Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, and Elvis Andrus all took steps forward; CJ Wilson moved nicely into the rotation to join Japanese League import Colby Lewis; Neftali Feliz harnessed his flaming fastball to become the AL Rookie of the Year; the farm system flush with talent was able to bring Cliff Lee into the fold down the stretch; a Nolan Ryan-led group of competent owners was able to purchase the team from bankrupt Tom Hicks.

What went wrong?

Ian Kinsler crossed the line from “is this guy just unlucky?” to full fledged injury prone; Michael Young looked slower defensively and might be a DH/1B type the rest of his career even though the Rangers owe him 3 years and $48 million; Vladimir Guerrero looked like he might break a hip playing right field in the World Series; the offense flamed out in the World Series bowing out 4 games to 1.

Offseason Summary:

Flush with cash from a new ownership group, extended playoff stay, and a lot of impact young players in their cheap, club controlled years the Rangers looked to make a splash at the 2010 Winter Meetings by locking up staff ace Cliff Lee for the long term. Unfortunately, the Phillies swooped in and snuck Lee off to Philly to be a part of their Phantastic Phour rotation. Feeling that cash just burning a hole in their pocket, the Rangers signed 3B Adrian Beltre to a 5/$80MM contract. GM Jon Daniels rounded out the roster by taking a flyer on Brandon Webb, snapping up 2010 All-Star Arthur Rhodes to round out the bullpen, and trading for slugger Mike Napoli to catch a little, DH a little, play 1B a little, and pound lefties a lot.

2011 Projection:

The Rangers look like a team on the rise with the reigning AL MVP, ROY, and a ton of young promising players. The NL West is one of the weaker divisions in baseball as the Mariners stink, the Angels regressed, and Oakland’s offensive struggles limit their upside. I think the loss of Cliff Lee and that bonafide #1 ace will hurt them in the playoffs, but the lineup of Kinsler, Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz, Young, and Andrus has too much firepower for the rest of the division to matchup with.

Record: 92-70, 1st in the AL West