Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/6/12

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago White Sox
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers
#18 – Colorado
#17 — Miami
#16 — Arizona
#15 — Cincinnati
#14 — Chicago Cubs
#13 — Milwaukee
#12 — San Francisco
#11 — Washington

#10 — Tampa Bay
#9 – Toronto
#8 – Atlanta
#7 – Detroit
#6 – St. Louis
#5 – Philadelphia

#4 – Anaheim

Texas 2011 Rating: #7

2012 Outlook: 68 (2nd)

The Rangers return most of a team that reached the World Series for a second straight year in 2011, and they replaced their only significant departure by bringing in Yu Darvish, billed as perhaps the best international free agent in history. There just isn’t an area of the game where the Rangers are deficient, as they have one of the league’s deepest pitching staffs, best defenses, and an offense that can score runs in bunches. They have a terrific, balanced roster, and they are very likely to contend for their third consecutive World Series appearance.

That said, there are some nits to pick, and when we’re splitting hairs between great teams, small things can often be the difference. The Rangers grade out as having just the second best roster for 2012 in part due to some positional depth issues and a lack of line-up balance. The Rangers regular line-up features six right-handed bats and just three left-handed hitters, with Josh Hamilton representing the only real significant weapon the team has from the left side of the plate. Hamilton’s frequent injury issues exacerbate this issue, as the middle of the order is almost exclusively right-handed when he’s not in the line-up. Given the expanding nature of Major League bullpens, many teams now carry right-handed specialists, and a string of RHBs makes the Rangers too easy to match up against in late game situations. This problem isn’t easily rectified, either, as the team is unlikely to trade any of the RHBs any time soon, so they’re just going to have to overcome this imbalance. A breakout year from Mitch Moreland would help significantly in this regard.

2013+ Outlook: 63 (2nd)

Not only do the Rangers have a lot of good players, they have a lot of good young Major League players, many of whom are under club control for years to come. While some chinks in the armor may develop after this season, especially if Hamilton and/or Napoli leave via free agency, Texas has the core of a long term contender in place, and a farm system that looks poised to add even more talent to the roster in the next few years.

Marc Hulet rated the Rangers farm system as the fifth best in the game on the strength of significant depth and a top-tier youngster in Jurickson Profar. The Rangers have also supplemented their current prospects with “drunken sailor” spending on the international market in recent years, dominating Latin America with large signing bonuses and adding big crops of young talent to the system. With the new CBA limiting what teams can spend on foreign prospects, this pipeline will be cut off going forward, but Texas made sure to extract all the value they could from it under the old rules. These deals should continue to provide the Rangers with a stream of talent for many years to come.

Financial Resources: 63 (6th)

The financial turnaround the team has made since being bought through a bankruptcy auction is nothing short of staggering, and a new television contract has provided them with the revenues necessary to make significant splashes in each of the last two off-seasons. That said, there’s still a pretty decent gap between what Texas is spending on their big league roster this year ($120 million) and what the true upper tier revenue clubs are spending ($175-$200 million). The Rangers certainly aren’t going to struggle for cash, but they don’t play in a market like NY or LA where there’s a seemingly endless pool of potential customers, and they’re likely going to settle in as a big spender that’s just a step down from the big city teams.

They’re also battling against the same problem that every successful contender runs into – their formerly good cheap players become more expensive, and they can’t keep the core together for the same price for eternity. With Hamilton looking likely headed for free agency, the Rangers are either going to lose their star outfielder or have to dedicate up to 15% of their payroll space in order to retain him. Likewise, Ian Kinsler is apparently asking for a large contract extension to stay in the fold, and the Rangers didn’t make any progress on a deal to keep Mike Napoli away from free agency at season’s end. The team probably can’t afford to keep this group together and still be able to fill holes that arise at other positions, so some tough decisions will have to be made.

Baseball Operations: 62 (5th)

The Rangers might be run by a young GM who got his degree from Cornell, but make no mistake, this is an organization that prides itself on placing a huge value on traditional scouting, and can credit almost all of their success to evaluations that were made based on the “old school” method of evaluation. They’ve just figured out how to blend that kind of process with a correct understanding of the value of player skills, and that has led them to targeting and developing players that are appreciated by both the scouting and statistical communities.

From Adrian Beltre to Yu Darvish, the team has invested heavily in guys who not only have strong tools but also strong performance track records, or have the kinds of skills that should play well in Texas’ park. They haven’t hit a home run on every move, but the Rangers a perfect example of what a team can do even without handing over the front office to a legion of number-crunchers. The Rangers lean heavily on their scouts, but their scouts understand what is valuable and what is not, and that is perhaps the best blend you can have.

Overall: 65 (3rd)

This is actually a virtual tie for second, as the overall score difference between the Rangers and the #2 franchise was a small fraction of a point. They’re a strong organization across the board, featuring a talented roster that’s ready to win and enough long term assets to keep winning in the future. Their organization is well run and they have significant resources. There really isn’t anything to criticize here. The Rangers have made a remarkable turnaround and are now a model franchise in baseball.


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