Breakout: OF Willie Calhoun
After success over three seasons at AAA (.297 with 169 runs, 48 HRs, 168 RBI, and nine SBs over 1,056 at-bats), Calhoun finally showed he was worthy of a major league opportunity in 2019.
Over the last two months with Texas, he hit .251 with 30 runs, 14 home runs, and 28 RBI over 195 at-bats.
His path in the minors supported his average hit rate (1.952), which points to 30-plus home runs with a full season of at-bats with the Rangers.
Calhoun hasn’t taken many walks (6.8 percent) in the majors (9.0 in the minors), but his approach in 2019 led to a low strikeout rate (15.7 – 11.4 in the minors).
Over five seasons in the minors, he hit .289 with 292 runs, 86 RBI, 304 RBI, and 11 SBs over 1,844 at-bats.
His swing path is fly ball favoring (44.2) with strength in his HR/FB rate (18.4).
Calhoun played well against right-handed pitching (.290 with 14 HRs and 33 RBI over 207 at-bats) while also driving the ball vs. lefties (.225 with seven HRs ad 15 RBI over 102 at-bats).
His ADP (189) in March slipped after getting hit by a pitch in the jaw. The extra time off allowed him to get healthy. The Rangers expect him to be in the starting lineup with the lights come on for the regular season in July.
I expect him to push toward a .270-plus batting average with 80 runs, 35 home runs, and 85 RBI. His slot in the batting order will determine his value in the counting categories.
Sleeper: 3B Nick Solak
The Rangers need to find a way to get Solak at-bats on many nights in 2020.
Last year he played well at AAA (.289 with 27 HRs, 74 RBI, and five SBs over 419 at-bats), which led to a callup to Texas in late August. Over his first 22 games in the majors, Solak hit .360 with 17 runs, four home runs, and 15 RBI over 75 at-bats while picking up 12 walks.
He ended the season with seven hits in 41 at-bats with one home run and two RBI.
His walk rate (11.1) played well with a league-average strikeout rate (21.5) while following in line with his minor league resume (11.1 and 19.2).
Over his four years on the farm, Solak hit .294 with 61 home runs, 228 RBI, and 48 stolen bases over 1,602 at-bats.
His cloudiness with playing time creates a buying opportunity in drafts based on his ADP (284).
Solak showed strength in multiple seasons in his contact batting average (.391 in Texas and .385 at AAA), which bodes well for his success in batting average.
I like his approach and his balanced skillset. I’m investing with the idea of 20/15 season with help in batting average.
The structure of the Rangers starting lineup suggests a top of the order opportunity. Solak’s only strike is his DH-only qualification out of the gate.
Sleeper: RP Rafael Montero
Montero came through the Mets’ system as an upside prospect.
Over eight minor league seasons, he went 44-31 with a 3.26 ERA and 603 strikeouts over 629.1 innings, highlighted by success in 2012 (11-5 with a 2.36 ERA) and 2013 (12-7 with a 2.78 ERA).
He struggled over four seasons in New York (6-16 with a 5.38 ERA and 189 Ks over 192.1 innings).
He missed 2018 due to TJ surgery.
After flashing over 11 games in the minors in 2019 (3.44 ERA and 31 Ks over 18.1 innings), Texas called him up to the majors.
Over 22 games with the Rangers, Montero pitched at a high-level (2.48 ERA, .217 ERA, and 34 Ks over 29 innings), which fell in line with his success in the minors.
Despite strong numbers in 2019, he did have some risk against right-handed batters (.327) while dominating lefties (.111).
His AFB (96.0) was the best of his career. Montero offered an edge with his changeup (.152 BAA), sinker (.200 BBA), and four-seamer (.229). His walk rate (1.6) and strikeout rate (10.6) look closer-worthy.
Don’t dismiss as a ninth-inning option while working a handcuff for Jose Leclerc.
Comeback: 2B Rougned Odor
Rather than make a progression off his 2018 season in batting average (.253), Odor fell back to his 2017 season (.204) in this area (.205). His inability to make contact was his downfall, which led to a career-high strikeout rate (30.6 – 23.7 in 2018 and 22.9 in his career). He did show growth in his walk rate (9.0 – career-high) for the third straight year.
Odor offered an edge in his run rate (48) and strength in his RBI rate (18) while also setting a career-high in his average hit rate (2.140).
A knee injury cost him 16 days in April.
He had better success against left-handed pitching (.236 with nine HRs and 32 RBI over 165 at-bats) than righties (.190 with 21 HRs and 61 RBI over 357 at-bats).
Odor hit under .175 in April (.145), May (.172), and August (.172), which led to ten combined home runs and 30 RBI over 246 at-bats).
He saved his counting stats with success in July (.264 with eight HRs and 25 RBI over 91 at-bats) and September (.261 with nine HRs and 25 RBI over 88 at-bats).
His hard-hit rate (45.6) ranked 51st in baseball while setting a career-high in his HR/FB rate (18.8).
Odor clearly tried to hit for more power based on his jump in his fly-ball rate (47.9 – 39.3 in 2018 and 41.4 in his career).
He finished 2019 as the 87th hitter in SIscore (-0.83) with a -2.72 rating in batting average.
In drafts after March 1st, fantasy owners priced him as the 136th offensive player off the table with an ADP of 230.
Odor hit .274 with runners in scoring position in 2019 while leading the majors in home runs (15) with runners in scoring position.
I’d like to see more success on the basepaths as a base stealer (56.4), which points to no further breakthrough in stolen bases.
I view him as an edge in power with neutral to impact value in runs, RBI and steals if he makes better contact.
Build your team expecting his batting average risk while understanding his strikeout rate may rebound to his early career levels. For the record, I’m buying at his current price point.
Bust: OF Danny Santana
Based on final stats, Santana was the 28th-most valuable hitter in SIscore (4.04) despite starting the year at AAA. He finished as an exceptional waiver wire find, with more upside if he had a full season of at-bats.
The problem here comes from, how does his minor league resume (.277 with 45 HRs, 298 RBI, and 141 SBs over 2,697 at-bats) added to his previous major league career (.256 with 13 HRs, 100 RBI, and 48 RBI over 1,095 at-bats) equal to his breakthrough in 2019?
Santana posted a jump in his contact batting average (.415) while his average hit rate (1.888) was a career-high while showing an upward path in 2018 at AAA (1.882).
His strikeout rate (29.6) screams regression and possible job loss while lacking a top of an order walk rate (4.9).
Santana had strength in his hard-hit rate (43.6 – 81st). His HR/FB rate (24.3) was almost double his career resume (12.5).
He hit his way into the starting lineup with a great June and July (.352 with 12 HRs, 33 RBI, and six SBs over 165 at-bats). His power (12 HRs and 35 RBI) remained stable over the final two months, but he only hit .219 while whiffing 69 times in 210 plate appearances.
With an ADP of 133, I’ll let him beat me in 2020. I trust his steals and believe he’ll hit home runs if given enough at-bats.
READ MORE: 2020 Texas Rangers Fantasy Team Preview