Here are the top five fantasy questions for the Texas Rangers:
5. Will Shin-Soo Choo be able to repeat his solid 2013 season? At age 31 one may be tempted to think that Choo is in his prime and should have no problem repeating his 2013 season, but the signs say that he cannot. Ignore the league/park changes and the usual narratives that apply (rightly or wrongly) and look at that OBP; that .423 sticks out as an obvious regression, by as much as .050 or more. The truth is that Choo will likely be a lot closer to 2012 than 2013, so if you pay 2013 prices, especially in OBP leagues you are looking at a bad penny. He has never been worth $30, but the price is way above that, making him an even worse penny.
4. Three good years in a row for Alex Rios? Once in is career he was Mr. Hot and Cold with a Saberhagen-esque reliability. Or at least that’s what you read from the fantasy punditry. That line of thinking was ridiculous then and it is ridiculous now. There was never anything inherent going on. We are just primed to see patterns and assume they will continue. In three of the last four years Rios has been worth $30+ and he is a far better bargain than Choo. There is no reason he cannot make it four out of five other than age, but with a career high in SB last year there is no sign of aging. Naysayers will point to a weak OPS. They may have a point, but 2012 is the outlier here, not 2013.
3. Will age catch up to Adrian Beltre? With a 35-year-old third baseman age is clearly a factor; most power hitters without speed are very close to the end by age 35. Beltre is making a Hall of Fame case for himself and there is no degradation at all in his skill set. That is not to say he will repeat 2013; his expected BA is a lot lower than his actual BA, but there is nary a wart that I see other than that.
2. Who will get the most saves? It was a mild surprise when Joakim Soria wrested the closer’s role from Neftali Feliz. Feliz carries the “proven closer” tag with two 30 save seasons before he got hurt. Poor velocity in the spring got Feliz the boot and so we turn our attention to Soria. We will just say this: if Soria is healthy then Feliz will get fewer than five saves and will not be a closer in 2014. Soria’s track record is strong and even upon his return last year he racked up K’s. Control is the last thing to return after TJS, so don’t worry about Soria—he is a nice low-priced pick among closers.
1. Can Yu Darvish challenge for a Cy Young? Darvish was my pre-season Cy Young pick last year and probably deserved the award. This year is a different story—there are significant concerns. Late last year he had back issues and now he has neck problems. Though the Rangers do not think they are related, we know that a) they might be and b) he has a ton of innings on his arm at a young age. As great as last year was there is no reason to think that gravity will not rear its ugly head. The real Yu Darvish may be a lot closer to 2012 than 2013, and with an ADP of 21 that is a high price to pay with no upside.
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