Prince Fielder must improve and start producing power numbers. When Fielder was traded to Texas for Ian Kinsler, the thought nationwide was that Prince was playing in a park suited for his swing and power. So far Prince after 108 at-bats, Fielder is only hitting .206 with 2 home runs and 9 rbi’s. To put that in perspective Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting .362 with 10 home runs and 10 rbi’s in only 47 at-bats.
For the first time in his career Prince is the focal point of the lineup. It’s very possible that he is pressing at the plate and trying too hard to hit home runs and prove to the organization that they made the right move. Even hitting for a low average, most teams still fear Prince and his abilities almost walking him every time first base is open. He leads all of baseball with 9 intentional walks and has added 17 walks giving him an on-base percentage of .331. His ability to get on base is good but for this team to be successful he needs to start producing runs.
Adrian Beltre has missed half the season only playing in 14 games. However, in the games he has played Beltre hasn’t hit any home runs and has only 5 rbi’s. I wrote before the season started that for this lineup to produce and be successful, that Beltre and Fielder would need to produce early and often. It’s possible to give Beltre a pass and blame it on his injury and it’s also possible to say that had he not got hurt the Rangers would be under .500.
Kevin Kouzmanoff had an awesome spring but there was no room for him in the major league lineup due to injuries to Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto. When Kouzmanoff was called up he did nothing but produce. His production made it possible for the Rangers to be careful and cautious with Beltre and not feeling the need to rush him back to the big leagues. Unfortunately, but good timing with Beltre coming off the DL, Kouzmanoff left a game in Oakland with back stiffness that later was found out to be a herniated disk.
In a weird way it’s now Beltre’s turn to come in and make you forget about Kouzmanoff. Beltre has done nothing but produce since coming over in 2011. It is a must that he and Prince start being the power source and run producers that all of baseball knows they are capable of being.
Alexi Ogando and Neal Cotts must return to their old form and solidify the back end of the bullpen. The last few seasons the team has tried to turn Ogando into a starter but that has failed with Alexi getting hurt every season. He proved he could start and be dominate earning an All Star appearance in 2011 but has proven also that with his inability to stay healthy he is more reliable in the bullpen.
Neal Cotts had a career year last season with a record of 8-3 and a microscopic ERA of 1.11 in 58 games. This season however, he has pitched in 13 games with an ERA of 5.91 and has already totaled last season’s number of 7 earned runs. The bullpen will get better when Scheppers returns from the DL but Cotts and Ogando must improve for this team to do anything. With all this being said the Rangers still finished April with a winning record and are only 3 games behind Oakland for the AL West lead. They ended the month by losing 5 out of 6 games after sweeping a 3-game series in Oakland.