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March 05, 2005

ESPN Column

2005 PROJECTIONS: Position: 1B (and OF in ESPN Leagues). Spot in Batting Order: #4. Plate Appearances: 650. Batting Average: .285. Runs: 105. Homers: 42. RBI: 120. Steals: 4. On-base Percentage: .375. Slugging Percentage: .580. Upside: Low-to-moderate. I normally make pretty conservative predictions, but with this guy, the sky's the limit. Downside: Low. Only an injury can stop him. Injury history: Spent two weeks on DL last year with oblique pull. Might miss a small handful of games, but it’s nothing to worry about.

Teixeira turns 25 next month and is poised to join the elite among fantasy players. Unlike many Rangers last year, he batted well on the road and didn’t tail off after the All-Star break. He did hit unusually well with runners on base. Statistically, he should regress toward the mean in this regard, but I think he'll bat well enough overall that a slight decline in this facet of his game won’t matter much. Similarly to ESPN's Scott Engel, I rank him as the 4th-best 1B behind Pujols, Teixeira and Ortiz. Teixeira’s OF eligibility puts him ahead of Thome, Delgado and Hafner.


2005 PROJECTIONS: Position: 2B. Spot in Batting Order: Probably #1, maybe #2 or #3. Plate Appearances: 700. Batting Average: .295. Runs: 100. Homers: 33. RBI: 90. Steals: 25. On-base Percentage: .335. Slugging Percentage: .530. Upside: Moderate. Will run more out of the leadoff spot. Downside: Low-to-moderate. Watch how he recovers from torn hamstring tendon. If he doesn't seem bothered by it, downside is minimal. Injury history: Other than that tendon, has been a healthy player.

Soriano moved from a pitcher's park to THE hitter's park in the AL, but he put up some disappointing numbers. Even so, he looms well above any other 2B in fantasy ball as the only five-category stud, and he should improve upon last year's statistics. Manager Buck Showalter wants to run more this year, and if Soriano claims the leadoff spot he will improve of last year’s 18 steals. I don't think he’ll steal the 40 or so he managed not that long ago, but 30 is a possibility. Soriano is recovering from a torn hamstring tendon that ended last season prematurely and is easing back into workouts. He hasn't played in a Spring Training game yet but should very soon. Once he shows he's ready, erase your worries about him.

Injury Report
FRANCISCO CORDERO, yet to pitch for real because of a sore shoulder, has been throwing off flat ground and will throw off a slightly graded mound on Saturday. I don't think it's anything to worry about yet, but if you're drafting in the very near future you might want to downgrade him slightly as a precaution. Potentially useful setup man for AL-only leagues FRANK FRANCISCO has been bothered with a sore elbow and, like Cordero, is throwing at a more relaxed pace. Soriano, as mentioned above, should make his spring debut any day now, possibly as a DH. All other draft-worth Rangers are healthy.

Nix on the Bubble
As the more toolsy player, outfielder LAYNCE NIX is considered to have a higher ceiling than fellow outfielder KEVIN MENCH. The results have yet to fulfill the potential. In fact, his 2004 and 2003 seasons were nearly identical on an at-bat basis. Nix is already in a platoon (the more profitable side) with GARY MATTHEWS. If Nix starts out slow and the Rangers find themselves in the division hunt, Showalter may have to bench him. Owners have no reason to draft Nix in mixed leagues anyway. Owners in AL-only leagues should downgrade him a little and watch for signs of promise or further disappontment.

Posted by Lucas at March 5, 2005 12:26 PM