From 2010 to 2016, the Texas Rangers were the class of the American League West. The Rangers made the playoffs in five of seven seasons, including back-to-back World Series appearances (and losses) to the Giants in 2010 and Cardinals in 2011. Unfortunately, it's been downhill ever since. The Rangers have suffered three straight losing seasons. In 2019, Texas went 78-84 (.481), finishing 29 games behind the Astros in the AL West and 18 games back in the Wild Card.
The Rangers are ushering in a new era in 2020 as they move into Globe Life Field, their new $1.1 billion retractable roof stadium. With fans to win back and seats to fill, Texas spent roughly $60 million in free agency this offseason, signing starting pitchers Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.84 ERA in 2019) and Jordan Lyles (12-8, 4.15 ERA) along with veteran infielder Todd Frazier (.251, 21 homers, 67 RBIs) and catcher Robinson Chirinos (.238, 17 homers and 58 RBIs).
But the biggest offseason move by far was acquiring 2-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber from the Indians in exchange for Delino DeShields Jr and Emmanuel Clase. Kluber was limited to just seven games due to injury last season, but went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 2018. If the 34-year-old Kluber can reclaim his old form, it could end up being the steal of the offseason. The Rangers' only notable losses were outfielders Nomar Mazara and Hunter Pence.
The Texas starting lineup is led by outfielder Joey Gallo. The 26-year-old slugger hit 22 home runs in just 70 games last season. In 2017 and 2018, Gallo hit 41 and 40 homers, respectively.
Here is the projected starting nine:
1. Shin-Soo Choo DH
2. Elvis Andrus SS
3. Joey Gallo OF
4. Todd Frazier 1B
5. Danny Santana OF
6. Nick Solak OF
7. Rougned Odor 2B
8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3B
9. Robinson Chirinos C
The Rangers of the past were known as offensive juggernauts with little to no pitching. It looks as though the roles have been reversed in 2020 with the strength of the team being the starting rotation, not starting lineup. The top three are truly formidable with Lance Lynn (16-11, 3.67 ERA), lefty Mike Minor (14-10, 3.59 ERA) and the newly acquired Kluber.
Here is the projected starting five:
1. Lance Lynn
2. Corey Kluber
3. Mike Minor
4. Kyle Gibson
5. Jordan Lyles
In the bullpen, Jose Leclerc (4.33 ERA, 14 saves) will get the save opportunities ahead of setup men Jesse Chavez and Rafael Montero.
So what do the oddsmakers think of Texas in 2020?
At BetMGM, the Rangers win total is 29.5. This translates to 79.65 wins based on a regular 162-game season. The juice on the win total is even -110 on both sides. This signals relatively equal action on both the over and under, without a clear wiseguy preference or obvious house liability.
However, one of the most respected sites for advanced baseball analytics is projecting actionable value. FanGraphs has Texas going 28-32. This signals a 1.5-game edge to the under 29.5 win total.
Texas is a massive longshot to make the playoffs. The Rangers are -910 favorites to miss the postseason and + 600 dogs to make the postseason. This translates to a 90.1% implied probability that Texas missed the playoffs.
The Rangers are + 1800 to win the NL West, which gives them the 2nd-worst odds in the division. Only the Mariners at + 8000 are worse. The Astros are a -164 favorites followed by the Athletics + 250 and Angels + 600.
If you believe in miracles, Texas is + 4000 to win the American League and + 8000 to win the World Series.
In terms of player props, Gallo is + 6600 to win MVP. He is the favorite to lead MLB in homers at + 900.
Gallo's over/under home runs is 16.5 (over -110, under -120), RBIs 32.5 (-115 both sides), runs 29.5 (over -120, under -110) and batting average .220 (-115 both sides). He is + 3500 to hit three homers in any game this season.
Kluber and Lynn are both + 2500 to win AL Cy Young. Minor is + 7000.
Kluber is + 1100 to lead the AL in wins, fourth best odds behind Gerrit Cole (+ 240), Justin Verlander (+ 550) and Shane Bieber (+ 900). Lynn is + 3000 and Minor + 4000.
Lynn is + 3000 to lead the AL in strikeouts. Kluber is + 3500 and Minor + 5000.
Kluber's over/under wins is 4.5 (-115 both sides) and strikeouts 70.5 (-115 both sides).