2016 Texas Rangers – Full Position Previews

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As Pitchers and Catchers report for your Texas Rangers, today, Friday, February 18, 2016, there is something of a different sense of optimism with this club.

It’s different than from that 2011 year – the year after the team went to the World Series for the first time. It’s different from last year, when there was no optimism at all. There was so much uncertainty what with a new manager, a team coming off of a record-setting amount of injuries and days on the disabled list, and only an early pick up of Adrian Beltre‘s option for 2016 as something to smile about.

This season is about renewal and reclamation. For two years, the Rangers slipped from the mountain-top to become something of an afterthought in a division quickly on the rise to overtake the AL East as “The Division to Beat.” Then, last year, the most unlikely of managers, the most unlikely of teams, the most unlikely of trade deadlines, the Texas Rangers found it in themselves to climb to the top of the ladder, fight off all opposition and grab that American League West Division Championship.

That, however, was just the intro. The Rangers proved that they can hang with the elite. They proved that they have what it takes to get further, deeper into the playoffs. That Division Title? That’s just a chip they can now use to cash in a Championship opportunity. They can get back to the Dance. They can fight for the Title of World Champion.

Can they do it with this team? Decide for yourself. Re-visit the links below to see where the strengths and weaknesses of the 2016 Texas Rangers lie and think about whether they can overcome their gaps.

  • The Rotation – Derek Holland and Martin Perez will be able to start the season completely healthy after two injury-plagued seasons, plus Yu Darvish will come back a couple of months in – but if just one piece doesn’t work out, can the team survive?
  • Catcher – The Rangers have a primary catcher in Robinson Chirinos, but who plays when he rests is one of the big competitions that will happen this Spring.
  • First Base – With Mitch Moreland having completely recovered from foot injuries that pestered him the last two seasons, displaying leadership and initiative in settling his own arbitration case AND entering his last year before free agency, will he play himself into a huge payday with another team next year, an extension, or into a blockbuster trade?
  • Second Base – Rougned Odor played himself into the national spotlight after a disappointing first two months of the season – can he keep the chip on his shoulder and play with that edge for the whole year, especially as Hanser Alberto and Jurickson Profar advance their case to be Major League contributors?
  • Third Base – Will the ageless Beltre continue to laugh in the face of Father Time and prove to be a rock for the Rangers again?
  • Shortstop – If you didn’t believe that “Nut Up or Shut Up” time came for Elvis Andrus in any of the last two seasons, this season, after his ALDS gaffes, has to be the one where he shows that he’s more than what he’s been.
  • Left Field – Source of the biggest deficit on this Rangers team, it’s becoming increasingly clearer that the situation here isn’t, as Josh Hamilton, who will be paid $0.00 million by the Rangers, is on the verge of proving he’s worth about as much.
  • Center Field – Where one of the brightest stars of the team broke through and made a name for himself, DeLino DeShields knows that even his job isn’t 100% guaranteed going into Spring, as internal candidates and rumors of potential other free agent signings continue to insert their names into conversations.
  • Right Field – Shin-Soo Choo had one of the most miraculous and impressive turnarounds after the All-Star Break when his wife told him to stop trying to earn a contract he already earned; with four more years in his deal with the Rangers, his performance in the second half indicates that that was pretty sound advice.
  • The Bench – Competition for two backup outfielders and a backup catcher will be highly analyzed over the course of Spring Training, and Texas, even after unloading a boatload of prospects for Cole Hamels, have a deep system to select from, especially if the external candidates drive them to step up their game.
  • The Bullpen – Arguably (or not) this team’s biggest strength, should the Bullpen be a place where the Rangers deal from to acquire a bigger game-changer, or a weapon to utilize for the entire year?
  • The Coaching Staff – The man behind the slogan of #NeverEverQuit, Jeff Banister, returns with a mostly new core of leadership, which could prove one of two idioms: “We could all use a little change,” or “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

There is a lot to look forward to with this incarnation of the Texas Rangers. As Spring Training gets underway, what are you most excited about?

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Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher is an Editor/Staff Writer for ShutdownInning. He is a baseball lifer, preferring to use the eye test and rely on the knowledge and analysis of baseball minds greater than his, while using relevant stats to encourage situational discussions. He is also co-host of The Most Valuable Podcast on the NextWave Radio Network, talking sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.

While Matt's favorite team will always be his hometown Texas Rangers, he knows the ongoing story lines of every team in Major League Baseball. If you sit next to him at a game, be prepared to hear him try and do play-by-play. If you're famous and reading this, just know that he's not afraid to drop names.

Matt Fisher. ShutdownInning Editor/Staff Writer

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