Mar 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo bats against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

American League West Preview: Texas Rangers

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Mar 18, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder (84) waits on deck against the Chicago Cubs at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Today, we reach the end of our preview of the American League West with a look at the Texas Rangers. After losing out on the playoffs following a heartbreaking defeat in the tiebreaking game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rangers are looking to get back to the playoffs once again. Ben Dieter, one of the co-editors of Nolan Writin’, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us in regards to their offseason moves and expectations heading into 2014.

1.       What move this offseason will make the biggest difference for the Rangers in 2014?

I think the easy answer is to say it will be Prince Fielder, but I think that one of the biggest is Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers have not had a true lead-off hitter in years, and having a guy that consistently works the count and gets on base at the top of the order will really help the Rangers score more runs when the big bats come up.

2.       What free agent do you wish the Rangers had signed?

I wish that the Rangers would have signed Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees threw a lot of money at him, but I think the combination of Yu Darvish and Tanaka would have been something to watch this season, especially seeing the injury concerns that the Rangers are having in the starting rotation.

3.       Who is the biggest key to your the Rangers success this year?

I think it is going to have to be a combination of Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar. Leonys needs to finally show the power that he was rumored to have when the Rangers signed him, and Profar is replacing an all-star caliber second baseman in Ian Kinsler. If Profar has a bad season defensively and Martin has a bad season offensively, then the Ranger will be in serious trouble.

4.       What are your expectations for the Rangers in 2014?

My expectations are high for this year’s Rangers squad, even with the starting rotation injuries and questions. With Shin-Soo Choo at the top, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios in the middle and Leonys Martin at the bottom of the order, they should be able to score runs. Darvish, Perez and Ogando are going to pitch well (barring injury to Ogando), so the Ranger should not have to score 7 runs every night, but they have the kind of line up that is capable of doing that. I think they come in second in the division and make the post season as a Wild Card, win the Wild Card game. After that it just depends on who they play, but I think they have a shot to go to the World Series, I just wouldn’t call them my favorites at this point.

Our thanks once again to Ben for answering these questions for us.

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