Are the Texas Rangers Favorites to Reach the World Series?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Texas Rangers have made another huge splash by signing coveted outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year contract worth $130 million.

Now that the Rangers have landed Choo, the pieces are all in place for something big to happen in Arlington, or at least they are according to one writer.

General manager Jon Daniels has done exactly what he promised he would do, and that is improve the Rangers' offense. In November, he traded one of the team's most popular players, Ian Kinsler, for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder. And now with the signing of Choo, an on-base machine, to go with the offense and the pitching the Rangers already have, one has to ask: Are the Rangers favorites to reach the World Series?

Yes, they are. The Rangers have done the best job of any team when it comes to putting itself in position to win the American League pennant in 2014. Here is why:

* Scoring runs. That's the whole object of the game, isn't it? The 2014 Rangers should score way more runs than they did in 2013 simply because of two acquisitions, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. Not to mention there will be veterans like Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre in the mix, and a few others poised to have breakout seasons like Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar. This Rangers lineup is just about as scary as it was in the early '90s when they were regularly near the top of the league in runs scored. Look for that to continue in 2014.

* A legitimate leadoff hitter.
With Choo on board, the Rangers have the ideal table setter. This is something they have sorely lacked in the last two years. Manager Ron Washington likes to put low or average on-base guys in the leadoff spot, and this is not the way to score runs. He's got a high on-base guy to put in the leadoff spot now that Choo is on the team. Choo also provides power - he is good for 20 home runs per season.

* Pitching staff. Watching a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and Matt Harrison should be fun in 2014. There are several candidates with starting experience that could compete for that fifth spot, including Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch. The Rangers' bullpen is one of the best in the majors, with several shutdown middle relievers that include Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Jason Frasor, and Joakim Soria. Not to mention they have their former closer, Neftali Feliz, who should be healthy and ready to go by opening day after Tommy John surgery.

* Speed.
Washington likes for his team to run, as evidenced by the reckless abandon on the bases in the last few years. He will probably like his team to run even more now that Choo is on board. Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, and Alex Rios could easily combine for 100 stolen bases. The key will be running the bases smart and not just aggressive.

* The catching combo. The Rangers have announced that Geovany Soto will do most of the catching in 2014. The former National League rookie of the year has really emerged in the last two years with some big hits as well as some stellar defense. In an under-the-radar acquisition, the Rangers signed 27-year-old former highly touted catching prospect J.P. Arencibia, who played in Toronto for the last four years. This tandem of catchers is as good as any in the major leagues, if not better.

Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.

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