BBTN 100: Top 10 first basemen

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27
8:31
AM CT
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Who are the best players in Major League Baseball heading into the 2015 season?

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100. We'll run through the top-10 lists at every position each day and unveil the top 25 Tuesday with a special edition of "Baseball Tonight" (8 ET, ESPN2 & WatchESPN).

The results will be announced on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Baseball Tonight) and Twitter (@BBTN). Fans can use the hashtag #BBTN100 to join the discussion and follow along.

To compile the top 100, we polled more than 60 ESPN experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 300 players. Using a 0-to-10 scale, they evaluated the players based only on how well they will perform in 2015. Players expected to miss 2015 with an injury were not included.

Miguel Cabrera remains on top at first, but for how much longer with a number of young sluggers right behind him?

Three players dropped out of last year's top 10 -- Joe Mauer, Chris Davis, Allen Craig. Check out the list below to see who jumped into the top 10 for 2015.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Nick Martinez threw six scoreless innings, Leonys Martin homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 on Thursday night.

Martinez, competing for the final vacancy in the Rangers' rotation, allowed five hits and walked one. He struck out four, throwing 54 strikes in 74 pitches, and lowered his ERA to 0.84 in three spring appearances. He has allowed one run over 9 2/3 innings.

Martinez went 5-12 with a 4.55 ERA as a rookie last year, making 24 starts and five relief appearances.

Martin homered in the third with Robinson Chirinos aboard. Chirinos was hit by a pitch from Chad Bettis.

Ed Lucas, Nate Schierholtz and Adam Rosales delivered run-producing hits in a four-run eighth.

Bettis, optioned to Triple-A on Sunday, was brought back to face the Rangers. He yielded two runs and three hits in four innings, walking none and striking out four.


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Yovani Gallardo to start Opening Day

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
8:51
PM CT

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Yovani Gallardo was selected as the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers by manager Jeff Banister on Thursday.

This will be Gallardo's sixth straight Opening Day assignment. The previous five were with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Rangers acquired Gallardo, who went to high school in Fort Worth, in a four-player trade in January.

Gallardo will face Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray on April 6 in Oakland.

Gallardo, who is eligible for free agency after the season, becomes the seventh different Rangers Opening Day starter in the past seven years.

He has an 11.32 ERA in three spring training games.

Yu Darvish was projected to start the Texas opener but is out for the season after reconstructive elbow surgery March 17.

Banister also announced left-hander Ross Detwiler has secured a spot in the rotation. Detwiler was used as a reliever last season by the Washington Nationals but has 69 starts in his career. Detwiler is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three spring appearances.


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What happens to the Yu Darvish beat?

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
4:20
PM CT

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Sam Onada is a freelance reporter who provides coverage for NHK Television in Japan. For the past three years, he's essentially been covering Yu Darvish on a full-time basis, filing reports back to Japan, one of 10 or so Japanese media members covering the Texas Rangers' All-Star right-hander.

So when Darvish went down for the season with Tommy John surgery, Onada says he "half-joked" with his bosses that he was probably out of a job. After all, as a freelancer, it would be pretty easy to cut him loose if there's no news to report. Darvish is currently in Arizona after his surgery and will return to Dallas for rehab during the season, but there won't be a lot of reporting to do on that front.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
AP Photo/Brandon WadeYu Darvish being out for the season has left several Japanese media members scrambling for assignments.

Luckily for Onada, he lined up another gig: He'll be heading up to Seattle to cover Hisashi Iwakuma.

Onada admits that Darvish is more popular in Japan. "He's more dynamic," he said. "Iwakuma is a good pitcher, but Darvish has more pitches and a better fastball," a combination the fans love. Still, a job is a job.

A couple of the other reporters also will leave the Darvish beat to cover Iwakuma. There were about six or seven Japanese media members on hand for Wednesday's game between the Rangers and Reds. Darvish may be out for the season, but relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, formerly with the Cubs, has a good chance to make the Rangers' roster. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings on Wednesday and hasn't allowed a run in 4.2 spring innings.

Onada also covered Daisuke Matsuzaka when he first came to Boston. "Dice-K was even bigger than Darvish," Onada said. "He was already a legend because of Koshien," the high school baseball tournament in Japan the entire nation fixates on. In the summer tournament, Matsuzaka threw 148 pitches in one game, threw 250 pitches in 17 innings the next day in the quarterfinals, picked up a save in the semifinals and then threw a no-hitter in the championship.

But there was also huge interest in Darvish, although Onada says there were more reporters covering him his first year with the Rangers.

Ichiro Suzuki often declined to speak with the mass of Japanese media, or would often talk to them with his back turned. Darvish, whom Onada describes as "a very private person," was a little shy initially but began opening up more last season. Still, he wouldn't talk with the media the day before a start -- it had to be two days before.

The Rangers had two Japanese pitchers, Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama, on their 2011 postseason team. Both pitched in the ALCS but were then left off the World Series roster. (Ron Washington lost confidence in Uehara after he served up three home runs in the first two rounds of the playoffs.) I remember covering that World Series and feeling bad for the large throng of Japanese reporters who now had no story to cover.

Hopefully Iwakuma will prove dynamic enough to give Onada and his cohorts plenty of news so they can keep their jobs.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Anthony DeSclafani struck out nine in six impressive innings, pitching the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman fanned two in his one inning of work, and the Reds got five hits off starter Ross Detwiler in a four-run second.

DeSclafani was acquired from Miami in the offseason trade that sent Mat Latos to the Marlins. The right-hander permitted four hits and wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam after issuing two of his three walks.

Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart had run-scoring singles off Detwiler, obtained in an offseason trade with the Nationals. He was scheduled to face the Reds on March 19 but the game was rained out.

The four-run inning marred an otherwise solid outing for Detwiler. Two of Cincinnati's hits were bad-hop singles.

Mitch Moreland had three hits for Texas, including a double.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols homered and Mike Trout hit an RBI triple, but the Texas Rangers tagged Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street for six runs Tuesday in a 15-8 victory.

Trout, last year's AL MVP, leads the Cactus League with a .462 batting average after extending his hitting streak to nine games. An avid Philadelphia Eagles fan, he chatted with Eagles coach Chip Kelly in the clubhouse after leaving the game.

Pujols, a three-time NL MVP, led off the fourth with his third home run on a 2-2 pitch from Nick Tepesch. Pujols also drove in Trout with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Touted prospect Andrew Heaney, competing for the final spot in the Angels' rotation, gave up homers to Elvis Andrus and Adam Rosales in the fifth. Heaney could not make it out of that inning, and the left-hander's ERA is 8.36 in four starts.


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Rangers ship Alex Gonzalez to minors

March, 24, 2015
Mar 24
1:33
PM CT

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alex Gonzalez, a well-regarded prospect bidding for a spot in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation, has been assigned to the club's minor league camp.

The announcement Tuesday came a day after the 23-year-old right-hander allowed two runs, four hits and two walks in five innings against Cincinnati. He struck out six.

Gonzalez, the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft was 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA in four spring training outings with 16 strikeouts in 13 2-3 innings. He held batters to a .216 average.

In other moves, the Rangers optioned infielder Hanser Alberto to Triple-A Round Rock and assigned right-hander Ross Wolf to their minor league camp.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jason Marquis pitched six effective innings for the Cincinnati Reds, and Ryan Rua drove in four runs for the Texas Rangers as the teams played to a 6-all tie in 10 innings Monday night.

Marquis, who did not pitch in the majors last season after 2013 elbow surgery, allowed two runs and six hits.

Devin Mesoraco and Chris Dominguez each hit a two-run homer for the Reds.

Rua had an RBI double in the second inning and a bases-loaded triple in the eighth.

Mesoraco, who led major league catchers with 25 home runs last season, connected off Rangers starter Alex Gonzalez with Marlon Byrd aboard. Byrd tripled leading off the fourth.

Dominguez launched a prodigious shot over the Reds' bullpen in the sixth on an 0-2 pitch from Jamey Wright, who failed to retire any of the seven Milwaukee hitters he faced in his previous outing.


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Could Peguero make Rangers? 

March, 23, 2015
Mar 23
12:20
PM CT
Over the last four seasons between the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners, Carlos Peguero has managed to scratch out only a handful of major league at-bats per year, but the outfielder has been turning heads with his new team -- the Texas Rangers -- this spring.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Yovani Gallardo allowed three-run homers to Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-0 Sunday.

Seager took off Saturday because of tightness in his side. he connected in the first.

Cruz, a former Ranger who entered the game with two regular-season home runs off Gallardo in his career, hit a drive off the center field batter's eye in the third. He had two hits.

Gallardo allowed eight runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, the second time he's yielded four runs or more runs in a spring training outing. He struck out two and walked four.

James Paxton made his spring training debut after being slowed by forearm stiffness. The Mariners left-hander, slated for the starting rotation, worked 3 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits with two strikeouts, a walk and a wild pitch.

Logan Morrison and Dustin Ackley had run-scoring doubles for the Mariners in the fifth.


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Rangers looking for SP help 

March, 22, 2015
Mar 22
9:05
AM CT
Having lost Yu Darvish to injury, the Texas Rangers have been making the rounds, checking to see if they can possibly find a little help in the starting rotation through a trade.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kyle Lohse gave up one run in five innings, Luis Sardinas went 4 for 4 with two RBIs and the Brewers crushed a Texas Rangers split squad 12-2 Saturday.

Lohse, who has been named Milwaukee's opening day starter, retired nine in a row during one stretch and struck out five, throwing 51 strikes in 75 pitches.

Sardinas, whom the Rangers traded to the Brewers in January, entered the game with three hits and no RBIs. Sardinas drove in a pair of runs with a second-inning single and raised his average to .241.

Rangers starter Colby Lewis allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings.

The Brewers scored six runs in the sixth off Jamey Wright, who failed to retire any of the seven hitters he faced.


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SAN ANTONIO -- Zack Greinke turned in his best work of the spring, with four shutout innings and six strikeouts as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Texas Rangers in an 11-3 Saturday to complete a split-squad two-game sweep.

Greinke struck out the side of Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus and Ryan Ludwick in the first. Andrus had been the Rangers' hottest hitter, reaching base safely in five of his last six plate appearances. Martin and Andrus were a combined 5-for-6 on Friday against the Dodgers, but went 0-for-3 against Greinke.

This was Greinke's third appearance in spring training. He gave up three hits.

The Dodgers got a pair of home runs from Adrian Gonzalez, his first of the spring. Kike Hernandez led off the game with a homer off Anthony Ranaudo, and Justin Thomas sent one out in the third. He has in 10 straight games and hitting .469 this spring.


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SAN ANTONIO -- Yasiel Puig hit a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw, Matt Carson added another three-run shot, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 on Friday night.

Texas starter Anthony Bass and Los Angeles starter Erik Bedard combined to allow 10 runs in the first inning before the scoring finally settled down in the opener of a split-squad, two-game set at the Alamodome.

Bass, who's on a minor-league contract but had previously shown some promise this spring training, gave up hits to the first three Dodgers he faced. It was capped by Puig's blast.

Carson then followed with his home run, and when the Dodgers batted around, lead-off hitter Joc Pederson slapped a solo home run that put Los Angeles up 8-0.

The Dodgers sent 13 batters to the plate, but Bass was not allowed to see Puig again. It didn't matter. Puig lined a single into center off reliever Roman Mendez.

Puig went 2-for-3 and lifted his batting average above .200 this spring. Pederson was 3-for-4 and is batting .471.

Maybe the Dodgers and Rangers found a few more fans by moving an exhibition game away from their spring training homes. But they likely didn't find much help for their injury-plagued starting rotations.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland pitched three scoreless innings in his spring training debut, but Mike Zunino homered twice as the Seattle Mariners and a Texas Rangers split squad played to a 4-4 tie Friday.

Holland, who had been restricted to one inning in a B' game because of a sore shoulder, threw 32 pitches, giving up two hits and walking one.

Zunino homered off Rangers relievers Jon Edwards, a solo shot in the fourth with two strikes, and Spencer Patton with a runner aboard in the sixth. Alex Jackson, the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2014 draft, homered in the eighth.

Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer for the Rangers in the seventh.

Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and two walks in four-plus innings.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182