Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes isn’t the only one making bold proclamations on the eve of the beginning of the regular season. Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said of his Rangers team, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “We’re making the postseason. No question.”
Last year, the Rangers missed the postseason, finishing in third place in the AL West with a 78-84 record. They were just two games behind the second-place Angels but 23 games back of the eventual world champion Astros. With the Astros entering 2018 arguably stronger than they did last year, the Rangers may be looking at the Wild Card as their way to get into the postseason.
For what it’s worth, FanGraphs is projecting the Rangers to finish 79-83 while Baseball Prospectus has them at 75-87. The Rangers didn’t make too many additions during the offseason, but were able to add Doug Fister, Matt Moore, and Mike Minor into the starting rotation.
Choo, 35, is entering the fifth year of his seven-year, $130 million contract signed with the Rangers in December 2013. Last season, he hit .261/.357/.423 with 22 home runs, 78 RBI, and 96 runs scored in 636 plate appearances.
This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.
The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.
As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.