What do Frank Francisco, Darren Oliver, Colby Lewis, Michael Young, and Vladimir Guerrero have in common, besides being members of the Texas Rangers? They were born in the 1970s. Why is that interesting? Because they are the only five players on the Rangers 40-man roster that you can say that about. The Rangers have five guys in the organization in their thirties. Five.
Name a position, and the Rangers almost certainly have a good player either in his prime or headed towards it. You would start your team with their double play combination before any other organization’s in the game. They have a a couple of all-star slugging outfielders that can drive in runs in bunches. They have a deep stable of starting pitchers, as they can easily pick between eight or nine guys, depending on who is healthy and throwing well. They have a kid throwing 100 in the bullpen.
Oh, and they have perhaps the best farm system in the game, led by a few more premium talents, one of whom could take the team’s first base job later this summer. The talent that the Rangers have to build around is ridiculous in both depth and ability. And they may be ready for prime time as early as this year.
Not only are the Rangers young and talented, but they’re also pretty good. If there’s a favorite in the AL West, it’s probably them, as they’re generally at the top of the pre-season projections, even if only by a game or two. Their commitment to defense has given them the ability to keep opponents from turning games into a slugfest, but they still have enough juice in their bats to put runs on the board themselves. They’re counting on the maturation of several young pitchers, which is always risky, but the talent is there for the Rangers to win the division and make some noise in the playoffs.
While Jon Daniels has taken a bit of flack for several trades gone wrong over since he took over at GM, the positive has far outweighed the negative, and the scouting staff around him have done tremendous work in reloading the system. The Rangers are legitimate contenders in 2010 and have a remarkably strong base to build off of for the future. They’re good now and could be great in a year or two, and that’s why they rank as the fourth healthiest organization in baseball.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.