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MLB 2020 Team Preview: Texas Rangers

Greg Ehrenberg provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Rangers.

July Update: Joey Gallo is one of the biggest names to have a positive COVID test during the extended shutdown. The good news here is that Gallo was asymptomatic and has since been cleared to workout with the team since he had two negative tests that were 24 hours apart. He is expected to be ready to play on Opening Day so this situation shouldn’t have any impact on Gallo’s draft stock. One player who has been impacted during the layoff is Willie Calhoun. The young slugger has a hip injury and also fractured his jaw during a spring game. Calhoun is expected to miss the start of the season, taking him out of consideration as a sleeper pick for yearly leagues.

The AL West is going to be a tough division this year. The Astros are always strong, the Angels made big moves in the offseason and the A’s are typically in the playoff mix. Now, we can add the Rangers in as a team threatening for a wild card birth. They quietly added a bunch of pitching depth in the offseason and their offense is typically solid. Texas wasn’t awful last year and won 78 games. After making some improvements in the offseason, it looks like this should be a team that wins more games than it loses.

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Why Corey Kluber could be a bust for the Rangers

DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +1600

— League Winner: +5000

— World Series: +10000

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Key Departures:

Hunter Pence, OF; Nomar Mazara, OF; Delino Deshields, OF; Logan Forsythe, 2B

Key Acquisitions:

Corey Kluber, SP; Kyle Gibson, SP; Jordan Lyles, SP; Robinson Chirinos, C; Todd Frazier, 3B; Greg Bird, 1B

2020 Fantasy MVP

Joey Gallo, OF

In the juiced ball era of baseball, Gallo’s power numbers should thrive. He hit 40-plus homers in each of his first two full seasons in the MLB and was well on pace to hit a career-high amount of homers last season if not for injuries. Time on the IL limited him to just 70 games, but he still managed to hit 22 homers. This has caused his draft stock to slide a bit this year and he has the upside to be one of the top hitters in the league. Not only are his power numbers great, there were other positive signs for Gallo last year as well. He had a career-best 17.5% walk rate and upped his batting average to .253 and his OBP to .389. Gallo is starting to add more elements to his game than just power.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Corey Kluber, SP

Kluber got injured on a freak play last year. He got hit in the arm with a line drive, ending his season early. I don’t hold the injury against him, although his level of play prior to getting hurt was very concerning. In seven starts, Kluber had a 5.80 ERA and struggled to find the strike zone. Once considered one of the top control pitchers in baseball, he walked 3.79 hitters per nine innings. There is also cause to be concerned with his velocity. His average fastball sat at 92.43 mph, the lowest velocity of his career. This all gives me reason to think that Kluber’s skills are on the decline and now he’s playing in Arlington, where the humidity is expected to keep the Rangers’ home field hitter friendly.

2020 Breakout Player

Willie Calhoun, OF

All I am asking for is playing time. One of the top hitting prospects in the minor leagues for years, Calhoun has only been held back because he doesn’t really have a position he can play in the field. For fantasy purposes, this is less of a concern for us. As long as he gets on the field, he is going to produce offensively and provide fantasy stats. Last year, Calhoun hit 21 homers in 83 games. He has real 40-plus homer upside playing in Texas. Calhoun did break his jaw during spring training, but all indications are that he should be ready to play whenever the season starts. He didn’t show any signs of having suffered a concussion.

Final Thoughts:

The Rangers figure to be a competitive, but not spectacular team this season. The starting pitching should be better than we have seen in a long time and with Joey Gallo healthy, the offense should also be solid. Speaking of Gallo, I think there’s a good chance he leads the league in homers this year. There aren’t currently odds for him to do so because of the uncertainty surrounding the season, although he is the player I would favor to hit the most long balls. Gallo hit 22 homers in just 70 games last year, giving him 110 homers for his career in 416 games. He’s somebody I expect to hit at least 40 dongs every season.

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