Since the joint effort with Coleman worked so well on Thursday, we’re sticking with it. I’m going to do a Rangers preview early, and Coleman will supplement this with the game post later this afternoon.
Previewing the Rangers Lineup:
Ian Kinsler 2B – Though Kinsler hit only .255 this year, he still ended the regular season with an .832 OPS thanks to his 32 HR and 34 doubles. He’s sure-handed and a threat on the bases. In fact, Andrus (37) and Kinsler (30) each stole almost as many bases as the Tigers as a team (49).
Elvis Andrus SS - Andrus is an absolute joy to watch in the field. He gets to balls you wouldn’t think he could, and makes strong accurate throws from all angles. He’s prone, however, to mental lapses and poor decision making. He regularly runs into outs and there’s a good chance that he’ll make a lazy throw or take the wrong angle on a ball or two during the series. He has the ability to be an above-average hitter, but not the discipline or patience. His .708 OPS was marginally better than AJax’s.
Josh Hamilton CF – What’s so incredible about Hamilton is his passion and effort, despite his history of injuries. Hamilton gives 110% on everyplay, regularly sacrificing his body, whether in the field or on the base paths.
Michael Young DH - Maybe the most tested human since Job. He moves from 2B to SS for Soriano, then from SS to 3B for Rodriguez, then from 3B to DH/1B for Beltre, demands a trade & reneges on that position in between, oh, and he hit .338 with an .854 OPS playing every infield position and DH this year. The guy is the consummate professional.
Adrian Beltre 3B – After posting an .892 OPS with 32 homers during the year, Beltre hit 3 in 4 games against the Rays with an 1.179 OPS. He’s an absolute stud at 3B and has Rangers fans applauding the unpopular Michael Young shuffle by Jon Daniels last off-season.
Mike Napoli C - Everyone knows about the Beltre FA signing, but this one may have been even better. Guess who led the Rangers in OPS this season? Yup, 1.046. The guy has been crushing the ball over the past month (8 HR and a 1.361 OPS in September) and most around here feel that no one has been more valuable through this playoff run. Not a great defensive catcher though.
Nelson Cruz RF - Outside of Miguel Cabrera, I don’t know anyone who hits the ball harder in the AL. His home runs tend to be big and clutch. He also has a tremendous arm out in right field, not that Lamont considers those things.
David Murphy LF – Murphy is a platoon player who can come up with big hits, but he can also be overused. On that note, have we overused Santiago at this point in time?
Mitch Moreland 1B - Mitch-a-palooza is a valuable role player who has developed quite a following in the Metroplex.
CJ Wilson - Honestly, I’ve watched him closely as he’s developed from a reliever to closer to starter, and I still can’t believe he’s this good. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff or nasty movement, but he can hit his spots. I think where his real growth came was as Robin to Batman Lee last year. He has reaffirmed over and over again how much he learned from Lee. He is meticulous in his prep and he sticks to his plan.
Colby Lewis – Crafty vet who learned “the art of pitching” in Japan. I think we’ll get to Wilson, but Colby will always keep Texas in the game.
Derek Holland – kind of the X-factor for the Rangers pitching staff. If I recall correctly, he was second in the majors in complete game shutouts with 4, but it also wasn’t until late in the season that he got his ERA under 4. Around here people watch out for the Derek Holland Blow Up, and it usually happens in the 4th or 5th. If he can get past those innings, watch out.
Matt Harrison - Harrison is still developing, but I think the hard throwing lefty has the most upside of any Rangers starter. Look for him to pitch game 4 in Detroit.
Alexi Ogando - You may remember Ogando, 3-0 against the Tigers this year while the rest of the staff went 0-6. He came out of the pen in spring training and was putting up Cy Young type numbers in the first half of the season until the heavy workload set in. Ron Washington smartly moved him back to the pen a few weeks before the season was over and he responded with 2.2 innings and 1 hit against Tampa. His stuff is nasty.
Mike Adams and Koji Uehara - I’m lumping these guys together because they were traded for to strengthen the struggling Rangers bullpen in mid-season, and largely have been disappointments. If you’ll recall they started their Rangers career against the Tigers and (I think) were each greeted by Tigers home runs (one was an 8th inning game decider by Boesch…if I’m remembering correctly).
Darren Oliver - He’s past his prime. We want to see him.
Michael Gonzalez - Journeyman who had a huge 3 pitch strikeout in game 3 of the TB series.
Neftali Feliz - Dynamic closer with a plus fastball and plus curve. He’s had an organizational spotlight on him since he was 16, and he has not disappointed. His career whip is .95 and he’s struck out just over 9 per 9.