Kelly Gavin, Texas Rangers
Every year around this time, we start to see all the MLB prognosticating begin, and ESPN's David Schoenfield is in the midst of releasing his.
He has the Texas Rangers checking in at No. 7 in the preseason rankings, ahead of their two most fierce AL West rivals, the Oakland A's (No. 10) and Los Angeles Angels (No. 11).
The Rangers are ranked ahead of the Cincinnati Reds (No. 9) and Atlanta Braves (No. 8) and are projected to get to 90 wins and win the AL West.
Schoenfield cites the Rangers' new-look lineup with additions of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, even though he wonders if he's beginning a decline after a career-worst year in 2013 that still produced 25 homers and 100-plus RBIs. The reason? His batting average against fastballs declined from .348 in 2012 to .272, indicating a possible loss of bat speed. Or perhaps it was just an off-year?
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, the Rangers will get on base a lot more in 2014 after adding two of the best on-base guys in baseball, including the best from 2013 in Choo.
The Rangers' biggest problems in 2013 were with their offensive production, and the front office has semeed to do its best to improve that facet of their game this winter.