With the Texas Rangers in a rebuild, they won't likely be competing with the defending champion Dodgers for the most wins in Major League Baseball.
But where exactly will the Rangers end up this season?
While we can still chalk this up to "depends on who you ask", there is a general expectation throughout baseball and the sports betting industry:
Rather than just tell you whether you should take the over or under, I want to take it a step further.
Why Take The Over?
The Rangers are hungry. Very hungry. As a young team, they are out to prove they can compete, not only with their opponents, but with themselves.
Rangers camp is dripping with competition among several spots on the roster, which the organization is hoping breeds into a winning culture. How much any actual winning happens in 2021 remains to be seen.
Folks who critique the Rangers' farm system tend to like the level of depth the Rangers have, but are generally do not see a high level of impact talent in the organization. However, two of the players who have the most potential to become high-impact players will likely play significant roles on the major league squad in 2021.
Leody Taveras turned a lot of heads with a vastly improved approach at the plate last season and has all but seized control of the everyday job in centerfield on Opening Day. Josh Jung, the Rangers' top prospect, won't join the Rangers on Opening Day, but could see a call up in June or July. Jung is already praised for his skills at the plate, and has taken huge strides forward to becoming a dangerous major league hitter.
When it comes to the Rangers' established players, expect bigger seasons from the likes of Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, and younger players like Nick Solak and Willie Calhoun. The very odd 2020 season didn't go their way. However, a full 162-game season gives these hitters a better chance to recapture previous form.
Ultimately, the last time the Rangers played a full season, they played above expectations and won 78 games. While they don't have Mike Minor and Lance Lynn this season, this pitching staff is deeper and more talented than the 2019 group. How well the offense does is more of a mystery, but it still remains possible for the Rangers to exceed expectations as their pitching staff continues to mature.
Why Take The Under?
Sportsbooks don't like intangibles. They want actual data they can quantify before they set their betting lines.
Being young and hungry are two great qualities to have. However, if the Rangers were to fail in 2021, they wouldn't be the first "young and hungry" team to fall flat on their faces.
You can have all the desire in the world, and that's a great thing to have. But sometimes, the other guy is just bigger, stronger, faster, and better. The Rangers have plenty of "bigger, stronger, faster" types in their pathway.
The Athletics, Astros, and Angels present plenty of bite within their own division. Not to mention the Mariners are also young and hungry, and are more talented than the Rangers. The rest of the American League won't be much easier as the Yankees remain a powerhouse, along with the Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Twins all being serious playoff contenders.
The Rangers don't get a break with interleague play. They have to play the National League West again, which means the Dodgers and Padres — the two best teams in baseball — are on the schedule this season.
Desire can only take you so far. The Rangers have so many players that need to put things together. Some for the first time, some needing to put things back together. That many unknowns, while putting your hopes on intangibles, don't generally make a solid betting strategy.
READ MORE: Rangers Opening-Day Roster Projection 1.0