There isn't much reason to be excited about the Texas Rangers' upcoming season. They're coming off a near-club record number of losses in 2014, have a relative unknown commodity replacing their most successful manager in club history and have a ton of health questions surrounding some of their biggest stars.
Don't expect many national media folk to give the Rangers much love when the preseason projections start coming out, but at least one is pretty confident the Rangers will be players in the AL West again.
ESPN's Buster Olney came out with a list of his top lineups in baseball for the upcoming season, and the Rangers were ranked No. 7 on his list, not bad at all considering the deep doldrums the Rangers found in 2014.
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Olney ranked the Rangers just ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and just behind the Washington Nationals. Here's what he said about the Rangers' prospects for the 2015 season:
"Nobody within the Texas organization will assume anything anymore after what the Rangers experienced in 2014, but this is what we know as of now: Prince Fielder is back to his MMA-style training, without restriction following his neck surgery last summer. Shin-Soo Choo's elbow is feeling much better, and he also has lost some weight. Elvis Andrus learned a lesson from last year, when he showed up to spring training out of shape; he's now in excellent condition. Mitch Moreland has made progress following his physical problems last season.
"Jurickson Profar is good to go, but he may return to the minors, given his need for regular playing time, and slugging prospect Joey Gallo is likely to start the year at Double-A, playing third base. Playing in the excellent hitting conditions in Arlington, a return to form for the Rangers seems very possible."
Lots of assumed health and "ifs" in that equation, but if everything does come together, it'll obviously look pretty good.