In their first year after A-Rod, the Rangers played like a team on a mission and surprised the league by contending until the final month. This year, more is expected of them, but poor starting pitching remains the reason they won't be wearing any jewelry in Arlington anytime soon.
Worth Every Penny
The best fantasy player on the Rangers remains second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Although actual GMs might prefer Hank Blalock or Mark Teixeira, fantasy owners know that Soriano's combination of speed and power is a rare commodity. Batting third with Texas, he won't approach the 35 to 40 stolen bases he had as a Yankee, but he's still a threat to hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bases. Add in the second-base eligibility and you have a fantasy stud.
About To Blossom
Since being the first overall pick of the 2000 amateur draft, much has been expected of Adrian Gonzalez. A first baseman by trade, Gonzalez finally is ready to play in the majors on a regular basis. He's hit for high average and has posted good RBI numbers in the minors, but the expected power has yet to emerge. Gonzalez likely will start the season in the minors, but he's had a marvelous Spring Training and should share DH duties for Texas at some point during the year. He's worth a bench pick.
Kenny Rogers had an 18-9 record last season that on the surface looks like a great year. But when you look at his splits, you see a much different picture. In the first half of the season, Rogers was 12-3 with a 4.21 ERA. In the second half, he was 6-6 with a 5.46 ERA. If you must draft him, consider him a 12- to 15-wins pitcher with a high ERA.
Do You Feel Lucky?
In his time in the majors, Richard Hidalgo has been inconsistent. He hit a career-high 44 home runs in 2000 but hasn't hit more than 28 since, including the 25 he hit between the Astros and Mets last season. Hidalgo was one of the least-heralded free-agent signings, but could have a big impact playing every day for the Rangers.
The stolen base isn't a big part of the Texas offense, as only two returning players -- Michael Young and Soriano -- swiped 10 or more bags last season. Don't expect any big steals numbers out of anyone this season either as everyone in the Rangers lineup is capable of hitting a three-run homer.
If Something Should Happen To Francisco Cordero
Few players gained infamy faster than Frank Francisco did last season when he hurled a chair into the stands in Oakland. What's most unfortunate about that incident is that it obscured the fact that Francisco is a fine pitcher. Opposing batters hit just .198 against him ad he struck out 60 batters in 51 1/3 innings. He clearly is the No. 2 man in the pen.
Don't Forget About
Teixeira, Kevin Mench, Gary Matthews Jr.
Don't Bother With
Chan Ho Park, David Dellucci, Sandy Alomar Jr.
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).