After every World Championship team is crowned, it’s easy to look at the makeup of that team and say, “Oh, that’s how you build a winner.”
But it’s never that easy. And it’s never the same from year to year.
In 2014, The Giants won with just one starter, Madison Bumgarner.
Last season the Royals won with not much starting pitching and no power. But they had an incredible bullpen, brilliant defense, and a lineup full of guys who could flat out hit.
This year, the Cubs won it all with a one-man bullpen. But the Cubs are strong everywhere else. Deep rotation. Power. Defense. Youth.
So, if you are building a Rangers team for 2017 with the hopes of competing for a World Series title, you need to look at how you compare to the Cubs, who appear to be the team to beat next year as well.
Let’s start with the infield. Today, specifically, at first base.
Mitch Moreland versus Anthony Rizzo:
This is not a fair fight. Rizzo had 32 HRs and 109 RBIs, hit .292 with an OPS of .928. He is a premier defender, an All-Star, and a top-five MVP candidate in the National League.
At the opposite end of the offensive spectrum is Mitch Moreland, with 22 HRs, 60 RBIs, a .233 average and an OPS of .720. Moreland is neither an All-Star nor an MVP candidate. He has a great glove but a penchant for making a crushing play when it matters most, as he did in the playoff eliminating games the last two seasons.
Moreland, of course, is a free agent and it’s doubtful he will be back next year.
So that means the Rangers have Ryan Rua and Joey Gallo.
So that means the Rangers have Ryan Rua.
So that means, going into the off-season, the Rangers have a gaping hole at first.
Free agent first basemen of note are Edwin Encarnacion, and Mike Napoli. Others include Adam Lind, James Loney, and Brandon Moss. Ryan Howard is available too. So is Logan Morrison.
Thirty-four-year-old Encarnacion is the one guy who could come in and have an instant impact. Since there are no free agent pitchers on the market worthy of pursing, Encarnacion would be my number one target this off-season. His last five season home run totals, from 2012 to 2016: 42, 36, 34, 39, 42. His last five season RBI totals: 110, 104, 98, 111, 127 (lead the league this year). In fact, had he been a Ranger the last five season, he would have led the team in HRs and RBIs the last four years, with Josh Hamilton’s 43 HRs and 128 RBIs in 2012 only having been slightly better.
Oh, and having Encarnacion on the Rangers means he won’t be feasting on Rangers pitching in the playoffs.
A third tour-of-duty for Napoli would also be interesting. He’s thirty-five, but coming off his career best in HRs and RBIs. And he’s a fan favorite. And, seemingly, a World Series magnet.
But my fear is that the Jon Daniels-type guy on the list is James Loney.
The Rangers have a gaping hole at first base.