Looking at the Texas Rangers Potential 2014 Lineup

Published: Dec 01, 2013 18:52pm EST
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Dec 01, 2013 @ 06:52pm EST

 

The Texas Rangers made one of the biggest moves of the baseball off-season, so far, by acquiring slugging first baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Not only were they able to replace the middle of the order bat they lost when Nelson Cruz chose free agency over accepting the qualifying offer made to him, but they also freed up a spot for Jurickson Profar to play regularly.

While we are still pretty early into the off-season and the Rangers may not be done making trades or signing free agents to shore up the lineup, let’s still take a look at what the 2014 Texas Rangers lineup may look like and what they could ‘potentially’ do offensively.

To do that we have to take the existing players on their 40-man roster and then take the nine players that are most likely to be in their starting lineup more often than not. Obviously that means we have to make a few assumptions, such as Geovony Soto being their starting catcher and Mitch Moreland still getting the majority of the playing time as a DH, part-time first baseman, and even potential back-up outfielder.

I then took their career on-base percentage and slugging percentage numbers and plugged them into the lineup analysis tool on baseballmusings.com, based on work by Cyril Morong, Ken Arneson, and Ryan Armbrust.  

Runs per Game

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

4.912

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Leonys Martin

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Mitch Moreland

Alex Rios

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.911

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Leonys Martin

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Alex Rios

Mitch Moreland

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.910

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Alex Rios

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Mitch Moreland

Leonys Martin

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.910

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Geovony Soto

Adrian Beltre

Alex Rios

Mitch Moreland

Leonys Martin

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.908

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Alex Rios

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Leonys Martin

Mitch Moreland

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.908

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Geovony Soto

Adrian Beltre

Alex Rios

Leonys Martin

Mitch Moreland

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.906

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Mitch Moreland

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Alex Rios

Leonys Martin

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.905

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Mitch Moreland

Adrian Beltre

Geovony Soto

Leonys Martin

Alex Rios

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.905

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Geovony Soto

Adrian Beltre

Mitch Moreland

Alex Rios

Leonys Martin

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

4.904

Craig Gentry

Prince Fielder

Leonys Martin

Adrian Beltre

Alex Rios

Mitch Moreland

Geovony Soto

Jurickson Profar

Elvis Andrus

 

What I’ve pulled from the results are the top 10 potential lineups that Manager Ron Washington could use, and then of course the number of expected runs per game based on the assumptions we’ve made about who would be in the lineup more often than not, and then of course using their overall career numbers as the basis for the projections.

One of the first things that you’re likely to notice is that Craig Gentry, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar, and Elvis Andrus all occupy the same exact spot in the lineup in every single one of the best 10 lineup options.

Gentry certainly makes the most sense as the lead-off hitter as he has shown a consistent ability to get on base at a much higher clip than anyone else on the roster with speed, and he also has a tendency to work the pitcher – he saw 4.07 pitches per plate appearance during the 2013 season, and that mark put him in the top-25 in all of baseball.

Fielder hitting behind Gentry would be the best spot for him because of his ability to drive the ball, whether they are singles, doubles, or home runs, and it allows the Rangers plenty of chances to score some early runs when Gentry is on base. Fielder also managed to drive in 17.3% of all runners on second base, which is important because Gentry could get on with a single and steal second, but Fielder also drove in 15.1% of all runners on base in his plate appearances during the 2013 season and has driven in 15.8% of all runners on base for his career.

The fifth spot in the lineup is the most interesting, and possibly flexible, because the Rangers have three viable candidates for it. Geovony Soto is listed as the best option, but that’s really contingent upon him returning to his 15+ home run potential self along with a respectable batting average and on-base percentage at his position.

Alex Rios makes sense in the fifth spot because of his ability to get on-base and drive the ball, as evidenced by his 21.6% line drive rate the last two seasons. Add in his speed and overall ability on the base-paths and he would also do well to set up the guy hitting behind him in the lineup.

Then of course there is Mitch Moreland, who will have to capitalize on any time he sees at DH, first base, and even possibly in the outfield to prove that he can handle being this high in the lineup. He did have a semi-break out season in 2013 by hitting a career high 23 home runs and had the highest walk-rate of his career, at 8.7%, since becoming a full-time player in 2011. He’s a solid break-out candidate overall in 2014 since his 2013 season was somewhat tainted by some bad luck, with a .255 batting average on balls in play, which contributed to his lowly .232/.299/.437 batting line.

All-in-all, the collection of players we are likely to see in the lineup for the Rangers more often than not certainly has the potential to score a lot of runs. If you take the absolute best lineup option generated it would score, all things being equal and fair in the world of course, 795.7 runs over 162 games. If we take just the tenth best lineup generated the team would score 794.5 runs over the course of a full season.

We shouldn’t expect the Rangers offense to be one of the top three scoring offenses in baseball in 2014, especially considering the assumptions we made. What this shows us though is that the team has the potential to put up a lot of runs and truly support the solid starting rotation they have. 


 

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