In today's Dallas Morning News, Evan Grant wrote an interesting piece about the Rangers' defensive shortcomings in 2015 and what needs to improve in 2016 for the Rangers to take the next step.
The article used one key defensive metric, defensive runs saved, and compared the Rangers (15th in baseball with 13 runs saved) to the top two teams in the American League last year. The Royals and Blue Jays, who met up in the ALCS last year, saved a whopping 56 and 31 runs, respectively. As you can see, the Rangers were well off the pace defensively.
There aren't many new faces in 2016, and it could be argued the team is now without its best defensive player from a year ago with the possible exception of a healthy Adrian Beltre, as Leonys Martin was dealt away to Seattle and took his cannon in center field with him.
That's why the Rangers have to look at second-half performance for some key players and be encouraged because, after all, like the Rangers' win-loss record in the second half, their team defense improved thanks to some improvements from key players.
Grant not only points out the projected defensive improvement of young second baseman Rougned Odor and center fielder Delino DeShields, but also mentions how veterans like shortstop Elvis Andrus and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo were both drastically better in the second half of the season than their dismal first halves, respectively.
The rating also includes the month and a half or so of Prince Fielder playing first base instead of Mitch Moreland, who is a Gold Glove caliber first baseman — something Fielder is definitely not.
Defensive improvement is needed in 2016, and even though it's a lot of the same faces back in the equation for the upcoming season, it seems pretty logical that the Rangers should improve in that department, and if they could break into the top 10 in baseball, it could mean big things for the Rangers.