Josh Hamilton isn’t the only player in Texas dealing with a hangover heading into this 2012 season.
One strike. On two separate occasions the Rangers were one strike away from winning the 2011 World Series. Instead, they coughed up Game 6 and then lost Game 7 to fumble away an opportunity for the franchise’s first championship. That marked a second straight loss in the World Series for the Rangers, who will now have to put that heartbreak behind them and find a way to get emotionally ready to face a renewed challenge from their reloaded rivals in Los Angeles.
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Hamilton’s offseason exploits have garnered a lot of attention in recent months and in a lot of ways the former MVP still holds the key to Texas’s hopes for a third consecutive American League pennant.
Hamilton is in a contract year, which could be a huge distraction throughout the summer. (Although the team that beat them in the Series, St. Louis, dealt with a similar situation with Albert Pujols all last year). On top of that, the alcoholic and drug addict was caught boozing last month and there were concerns that it could be the beginning of a backslide.
There is no shortage of drama surrounding the two-time defending A.L. champions entering this season. With that in mind, here are Doc’s Sports 2012 Texas Rangers predictions and MLB futures odds:
2011 Record: 96-66
2012 Wins Over/Under: 91.5
Odds To Win 2012 AL West: 1/1
Odds To Win 2012 AL Pennant: 4/1
2012 Rangers Odds to Win World Series: 8/1
I am seeing a lot of red flags surrounding the Texas pitching staff. First, they lost innings eater and staff ace C.J. Wilson to free agency. The Rangers are hoping that they have replaced Wilson’s production by adding Japanese “phenom” Yu Darvish. The 25-year-old Darvish will be making his debut this spring and a lot of scouts think he can be a front-end starter. But after seeing a litany of Asian pitchers flame out you can forgive me for being skeptical.
Texas will now be banking on the continued growth of young lefties Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. The duo was masterful in the postseason and both pitchers are under the age of 25. However, they are both candidates for the Verducci Effect, which predicts either injury or a severe regression this season. Steady vet Colby Lewis is now the de facto ace and Texas is trying to stretch out former reliever Neftali Feliz and plug him into the rotation, similar to what they did with Wilson two years prior.
The Rangers signed all-star Joe Nathan to step in and be the team’s new closer. He will join one of the best bullpens in the league and a pen that is loaded with outstanding setup men like Mike Adams, Alexi Ogando, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe.
These guys should need no introduction. Texas has boasted one of the best and most consistent lineups in baseball over the last two years. The core of the order is Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young, and there may not be a better quartet in the league. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus sit at the top of the order and can do all sorts of damage with their assortment of doubles, steals, hit-and-runs and even homers.
Even the bottom of the order can be lethal. Mike Napoli mashes left-handed pitching and was perhaps the best hitting catcher in the game last year with a .320 average and 30 home runs in just 113 games. Savvy Yorvit Torrealba backs up Napoli. Young first basemen Mitch Moreland has shown a lot of promise and the bench has young, athletic guys like David Murphy and Julio Bourbon providing quality innings.
The defense has been spotty at times, as indicated by their No. 26 fielding percentage. But with Beltre and Andrus the Rangers have one of the best SS-3B tandems in the game.
2012 Texas Rangers Predictions
Even with some offseason issues, this team is still really difficult to bet against. How can opposing teams make it through that lineup four times a night without getting lit up?
Also, the Rangers have the bullpen depth and talent that several other A.L. contenders – Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles – can only dream about.
But I do worry about the hangover effect from coming so close and then losing a World Series. I also think they have taken advantage of a transitional period in the Angels dynasty. But this year Los Angeles seems to have it together.
I think that Texas is going to have to try to overcome the same injury issues that they have faced the past two years. But this season I’m not sure they will be as successful. I think Texas will head into September in a battle with Boston for the Wild Card.
2012 Texas Rangers MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
Take ‘under’ 91.5 Wins.
The Rangers have only topped this number twice in the last 30 years so expecting them to roll out of bed and win 92 or 93 games is a bit of a stretch. As good as they were the last two seasons they only won 96 and 90 games, respectively.
The Angels are back and I don’t think that Texas is going to win the regular season series between them for the fourth straight year. I have a feeling that Texas is going to have several injuries to starting pitchers and they don’t seem to have the organizational depth at that position that they will need. I see Texas ending up around 88 or 89 wins this season. It will be tight, but I feel good about an under here.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click here for more information on his MLB picks.