The Rangers have 10 infielders and 6 catchers in major league camp. I did an analysis of all the infielders and catchers in big league camp, gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training, and predicted the infield and catching roster.
Elvis Andrus – Elvis Andrus is obviously going to be on the team as the starting shortstop after he won the Rookie of the Year Award last year. Oh, wait, that went to a guy who got 26 saves, which is less than the number of stolen bases Andrus had. That makes no sense. Anyways, Elvis hit .267 last year with six home runs, 40 RBI’s, and 33 stolen bases. But his biggest addition to the team was his defense, which was incredible, and saved so many runs over the course of the year.
Percentage of making the team out of Spring Training: 100%
Joaquin Arias – Arias was a huge prospect when the Rangers traded for him as part of the deal that sent A-ROD to the Yankees, but now has become just another guy fighting for the utility spot that wouldn’t have even been up for competition if not for Khalil Greene not being able to come to camp. Last year Arias had just eight major league at-bats, and didn’t get on base once, and struck out three times. And he looked even worse than the stats show. He hit .266 with a .295 OBP with Oklahoma City last year and, really, I don’t see why he deserves to be on the team, or even in the race to be on the team.
Matthew Brown – Brown is being looked at to be on the Opening Day roster to be a backup corner infielder for the Rangers. Last year with the Angels Triple-AAA team in Salt Lake, Matthew hit .245 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI’s. He has 24 major league at-bats (all with the Angels) and has just one hit, while striking out 11 times.
Chris Davis – After having a great rookie year in 2008 (.285 AVG, 17 HR, 55 RBI), Davis struggled at the beginning of last year before being sent down to the minors where he hit .327 with six home runs and 30 RBI’s in just 165 at-bats. When he got called back up he hit much better, and his stats at the end of the year were: .238 AVG, 21 HR, 59 RBI. He will almost surely be the Rangers starting first baseman out of Spring Training.
Esteban German – Esteban is going to have a chance to play his way into the utility infield spot on the team’s roster to start off the year. But being a non-roster invitee will make it harder for him to make the team. Last year with the Rangers, German hit .304 and looked really good in his 46 at-bats. With OKC, he hit .319 (.053 better than Arias in Oklahoma) with a .419 OBP (.124 better than Arias in Oklahoma), which is incredible. He also had 35 stolen bases, and I think that he deserves the utility infield spot more than Arias.
Ian Kinsler – Ian will be the starting second baseman for the Rangers, and there is no chance that he won’t be. He had a down year for him last year, as he hit just .253, but he was also a 30-30 guy as he hit 31 home runs and stole 31 bases. In 2008, he had hit .319, but with just 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases. If he can combine last year’s power numbers with ‘08’s batting average, he will have a great chance at AL MVP.
Marcus Lemon – Marcus was invited to big league camp after Khalil Greene’s situation. He doesn’t really have a chance to make the team. Last year with Frisco, Lemon hit just .262 and had 25 extra-base hits, as 93 of his 118 hits on the year were singles. That gives him a .333 slugging percentage, which is extremely low.
Ray Olmedo – Ray is a non-roster invitee and does not have a good chance to make the team, but does have some major league experience. In his 403 major league at-bats split over five seasons (’03-’07) and two teams (Reds and Blue Jays), Ray has a .228 batting average, two home runs, 26 RBI’s, and six stolen bases. He last played in the majors with the Blue Jays in 2007. With AAA-Durham last year, Ray hit .250 with six home runs and 47 RBI’s.
Justin Smoak – Justin probably won’t be on the team to start the year out of Spring Training, although he does have a very good chance to be called up to the team at some point this year, despite not being on the 40-man roster. Last year in Frisco, Justin hit .328 with six home runs and 29 RBI’s, and with Oklahoma City, he hit .244 with four home runs and 23 RBI’s.
Michael Young – Michael had another great year last year, hitting .322 with 22 home runs and 68 RBI’s, and if not for a late-season injury, he would have gotten another 200-hit season. Last year Michael showed the power to hit 20 home runs in a season that he hadn’t shown since 2005. He will obviously be the starting third baseman, and there will not be any competition for that position as long as he’s still around and playing well.
Emerson Frostad – Emerson does not have much of a chance to make the team out of Spring Training. Emerson spent most of his year last year with Oklahoma City, and hit just .226 with only one home run and 20 RBI’s. That average is bad even for Frostad, a career .256 minor league hitter. He actually hit more home runs in Frisco (3) in 44 at-bats than he did in OKC (1) in 208 at-bats.
Toby Hall – Toby is more for insurance than he is for competing for the Opening Day roster. He is still recovering from right shoulder surgery last May, but is almost fully recovered. Last year was the first year that Hall did not play in the majors since 1999. In his career Toby is a .262 hitter with 46 HR’s and 269 RBI’s, and has spent most of his time with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but has also had stints with the Dodgers and the White Sox. He has a chance at the team, but it is a minor one.
Max Ramirez – Max doesn’t seem to be in a good position to be on the Rangers Opening Day roster, but he definitely has a chance at it. He had a horrible year last year, though, hitting .234, well below his .299 career average, with just 5 home runs and 43 RBI’s with Triple-AAA Oklahoma. In his only major league experience in 2008, Max hit .217 with two homers and 9 RBI’s.
Kevin Richardson – Kevin finally got a chance to get a taste of major league ball after many years of minor league play, and being great at working with the pitchers. He only got six at-bats, but he got three hits, so he made the most of his opportunity. His hitting is not his strong suit though, as in his minor league career his average is .239. He probably will not be on the team, and probably won’t be up this year at all.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – It looks as if Salty will be battling for the starting catching position will Taylor Teagarden this spring, with the loser of that battle backing up the other. Salty had a bad year last year, even without the injuries, hitting .233 with nine home runs and 34 RBI’s. He’ll almost surely be on the team, and my guess is he’ll be starting, but his numbers have to improve from last year to be able to keep that starting spot.
Taylor Teagarden – Taylor has a great chance at being the starting catcher this year, but needs to perform better than he did in ’09. Even though he was solid defensively, as always, he hit just .217, and struck out 76 times in 198 at-bats. That means that he struck out in 38% of his at-bats, which is way too high. His OBP was just .270, which is not just an okay number for a batting average. I think that he’ll do much better this year, especially if he starts.
Predicted Infield and Catching Roster:
First Base: Chris Davis
Second Base: Ian Kinsler
Third Base: Michael Young
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus
Utility Infielder: Esteban German
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Back-up Catcher: Taylor Teagarden
Next in Line:
Come back next week for my 2010 season predictions.