By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Mitch Moreland
When the season started, the Rangers had hoped that one of their young first basemen would take hold of the position and become a fixture in the lineup. They got their wish, just not the name. After Chris Davis’ struggles, Jorge Cantu’s inability to adjust to the AL, and Justin Smoak’s trade to Seattle, Moreland was guy for Texas at first base. In 47 games, he hit .255/.364/.469 with nine home runs. He also showed the ability to take a free pass with an above-average 14.5% walk rate. He did strike out a lot, and his home run-to-fly ball rate is likely unsustainably high. But with no one else stepping up at the position, he is likely to get his fair share of playing time in 2011.
Biggest Bust: Ian Kinsler
A preseason favorite of Bloomberg Sports, Kinsler missed 59 games and spent 69 total days on the DL with an ankle sprain and then a groin injury. When he was healthy, Kinsler hit .286 with a career-high on-base percentage of .382. That said, he hit a career-low nine home runs and his slugging percentage was just over .400. Whether the injuries took a toll on his power, we don’t know, but with such high expectations headed into the season, Kinsler did not live up to the hype in 2010. That said, a healthy Kinsler could bounce back in 2011 to put up big numbers from the keystone. He certainly looked good in Game 2 of the ALDS today, launching a James Shields pitch deep into the left field bleachers.
2011 Keeper Alert: Josh Hamilton
.359/.411/.633 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI, and 95 runs scored. This is what Josh Hamilton did in 2010 despite missing 29 games with injury. It should be enough to win him the AL MVP and a spot on your team next season, even if you’re in an auction league and he sports a high salary. Sure, his batting average was largely inflated by a ridiculous .390 batting average on balls in play, but the power is real and he did lower his strikeout rate. The injuries are a concern, but even if he makes an annual DL stint, the production of the 130-140 games he does play is enough to warrant first-round draft pick consideration.
2011 Regression Alert: Vladimir Guerrero
After hitting a career-worst .295/.334/.460 in 2009 for the Los Angeles Angels, Guerrero rebounded with the Rangers in 2010 to hit .300 with an .841 OPS. Healthy for the first time in a long time, he drove in 115 runs – surpassing 100 RBI for the first time since 2007. While Guerrero could have fallen in the category of surprise in 2010, his value in 2011 is tied directly to his home park. He hit .315 at home with an OPS of .881. On the road his average dropped to .284 and his OPS dipped under .800. If he returns to the Rangers, he should have another good season. If not, buyer beware depending on his landing spot.
For more on Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.