Tom Verducci is one of the most tenured, well respected baseball minds in the national media, working for Sports Illustrated and also working as a part of the Fox national telecasts.
In the SI MLB preview issue, Verducci goes out on a limb a bit by not only picking the Rangers to win the AL pennant but to beat the favored Cubs in the World Series to win their first in three tries.
Verducci said the following about the Rangers and why he thinks they'll end the season as the lone team standing.
After a 16–23 start last season, Texas went 72–51, finished third in the league in runs and, with Cole Hamels on the mound, was nine outs away from advancing to the ALCS—until the Rangers' infield made errors on three consecutive plays. This year, Texas has an even better offense, a better bullpen, better depth (prospects Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar could start for many teams) and, if Yu Darvish returns to form, a championship-worthy rotation. Now all the Rangers need to do is keep cool in the biggest postseason moments.
One other SI writer had the Rangers in the World Series, but had them losing to the Nationals.
According to the panel, Carlos Correa, the young stud shortstop for the Rangers' rival Astros, was the favorite to win the AL MVP trophy ahead of Mike Trout.