In about a month, the 2014 baseball season will begin. The Texas Rangers are poised to return to the postseason, but there are a good amount of questions surrounding the season.
Question: Who should hit second in the Rangers' lineup?
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has already made it clear that shortstop Elvis Andrus is his No. 2 hitter behind Shin-Soo Choo and before Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre. And from the sound of it and Washington's insistence, it doesn't sound like that is going to change unless there's a drastic need for it. But is Andrus the best option to hit second in the Rangers' lineup?
If Washington insists on bunting ad nauseam with Andrus after Choo gets on base to "set the table" for Fielder and Beltre, then it's kind of waste. Is Andrus a top-notch big-league hitter? No, he's not. But he can handle the bat and he showed over the second half of the season that he can even rack up some power numbers with loads of gap doubles and even some home runs. His speed also plays well in the top third of the lineup as he's a good candidate to steal 40 bases this year.
But what about this?
What if Alex Rios hit second in the Rangers' order. There'd be one big question riding on this, and that's the production the Rangers get from their primary DH Mitch Moreland, who could move to fifth in the order behind Beltre if he can produce like the Rangers have hoped he can. This question was a much bigger one if the Rangers had signed Nelson Cruz, but they didn't. But, if Moreland can be what the Rangers have hoped for him to be, it could work.
Rios is also a speedy guy and he's a very aggressive base runner who could also rack up 40 steals and is a nice first-to-third candidate on the base paths. But he also provides punch at the plate, more so than Andrus.
Let's not kid ourselves, Andrus isn't a No. 5 hitter, and never will be. But he could be a No. 6 hitter, so again this all rides on production from Moreland. But Rios hitting ahead of Fielder would be huge and could give the talented Rios a chance to have a career year in his first full season hitting in the hitting paradise that is Arlington.
It's all one big hypothetical, because like we said, Washington has already released his Opening Day lineup and it has Andrus hitting second and Rios fifth with Moreland sixth. But as the season goes on, this could be something that is considered.