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2018 AL West division preview: OK to mess with Texas

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The boys from Baseball Town, USA are poised to battle the A’s in an AL West showdown for fourth place.

Texas Rangers Photo Day Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Texas Rangers

Who?

Not to be confused with the other Texas team that could actually close out a championship series, the Rangers will still be playing actual baseball this season, providing the locals with a nifty distraction until high school football season kicks into gear.

Were they even good last year?

They managed to tie pre-season division winner Seattle for third place in the AL West, finishing 78-84. Their -17 run differential finally reflected their actual record after two years of mediocrity were somehow rewarded with division titles.

What did they do this offseason?

They acted quickly and nabbed reliever Mike Minor, with an eye towards converting him into a starter. Then they signed Tim Lincecum (yes, THAT Tim Lincecum) and converted him into a reliever. Doug Fister (remember him?) got himself real money to play for an almost real Major League team. Removing all doubt about their fetish for bad former Angels, Jesse Chavez appears to have won a spot in their pen. And because you can never have enough pitchers who were pretty decent just years and years ago, they traded for lefty Matt Moore.

And just when you thought the trolling was too easy, they also decided Bartolo Colon would be a nice addition to their rotation, despite the 45 year-old getting hit so hard during the spring he was released. By the Rangers. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

Projected Line-up

1. Delino DeShields, CF

2. Joey Gallo, 1B

3. Elvis Andrus, SS

4. Adrian Beltre, 3B

5. Nomar Mazara, RF

6. Shin-Soo Choo, DH

7. Robinson Chirinos, C

8. Roughned Odor, 2B

9. Ryan Rua, LF

Projected Rotation

1. Cole Hamels

2. Matt Moore

3. Mike Minor

4. Doug Fister

5. Martin Perez

6.(?) Bartolo Colon

There have been rumblings that they may follow the Angels’ lead and deploy a six-man rotation, though their gritty veteran “ace” is having none of it. Colon is supposed to start on April 2 but could get bumped once Martin Perez is activated from the DL.

Projected Closer

TBD. Much to the chagrin of Adrian Beltre, the Rangers (again, like the Angels) are reluctant to name a single closer. Soft-tossing lefty Alex Claudio led the team last season with 11 saves, while fire-balling hot-head Matt Bush had 10 to his credit. Tim Lincecum is throwing his name into the hat, for whatever it’s worth.

What is their strength?

As always, the Rangers will score their share of runs. Last season they took a step back scoring 799, good for ninth in MLB. With Gallo and Mazara gaining a year of experience, combined with a healthy Adrian Beltre, expect them to once again to finish in the top-10 playing in the Little League Park in Arlington.

What is their weakness?

Have you already forgotten Bartolo Colon will start the year in their rotation?

So, what can we expect?

With Houston, the Angels, the Mariners and A’s all looking improved over last season, what do you think? The Rangers best hope is that the recent blows to the health of the A’s pitching staff could keep them out of the AL West cellar this season.

What’s the most accurate representation of this team, in GIF form?