Dr. Lineup: The 2011 Texas Rangers
Thursday March 3rd, 2011
Rangers manager Ron Washington was mum early on during spring workouts about his potential lineup for 2011. Now that spring training games are underway, fans are getting their first look at the explosive offense. Off-season moves did little to hamper this offensive powerhouse, but adding third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Mike Napoli certainly wont hurt production. Michael Young was rumored to be traded after the Beltre signing, but the Rangers couldn't find a suitor.
Washington has mentioned that he likes second baseman Ian Kinsler in the leadoff capacity, while also batting Michael Young in the sixth spot of the order. Here is how the Rangers could look to begin 2011:
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Elvis Andrus, SS
- Josh Hamilton, LF
- Adrian Beltre, 3B
- Nelson Cruz, RF
- Michael Young, DH
- Mitch Moreland, 1B
- Yorvit Torrealba, C
- Julio Borbon, CF
In the first Cactus League exhibition against the Royals on Sunday, Washington ran out what appeared to be a preview of the opening day lineup. It featured the players listed above with the exception of Beltre, who was held out with a calf injury, while Young playing third and David Murphy served as the designated hitter.
Kinsler has hit in the leadoff spot more than any slot during his career. He puts the ball in play and posted a great 12.2 percent walk rate in 2010. He does hit for more power than the typical leadoff man, so the drawback to him hitting first is that he could be driving in runs later in the lineup. Prior to the start of the 2010 season, the team expected speedster Julio Borbon to hit first, but was replaced after posting a miniscule .252 on-base percentage (OBP) and drawing just two walks in April and May last year. Elvis Andrus was asked to take over for the remainder of the season in 2010, but expect Kinsler to begin the season as the table-setter for this powerful offense in 2011.
The eighth spot in the lineup should be occupied by starting catcher Yorvit Torrealba. He is a solid defensive catcher and expected to handle the bulk of the work behind the plate. However, expect to see former Angels catcher Mike Napoli enter into the mix when facing left-handed pitching. In 2009, Napoli hit .337 in 95 at-bats against lefties and followed that up with a .305 mark and 10 homers in 141 at-bats in 2010. Napoli can be a defensive liability, so he won't get regular at-bats, but could sneak his way into the lineup as the designated hitter against lefties as well.
Elvis Andrus is better suited for the two-hole while the "Julio Borbon Project" has been relegated to the ninth spot. Washington wants to deploy Borbon before turning the lineup over to Kinsler at the top. Batting Borbon ninth has yielded better results, as he hit .290 from the nine-hole, compared to .220 leading off.
The Texas Rangers don't have much to fix going into the season following a breakout as a team in 2010. This lineup is sure to fluctuate throughout the season with so many weapons at their disposal, but fully expect another solid offensive output from the Rangers in 2011.
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