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Friday, December 30, 2011
Olney: Rangers infield is No. 1

By Richard Durrett

ESPN.com's Buster Olney continues his rankings by position heading into 2012 season and puts the Rangers on top of the infield category. Here's what Olney says about Texas:
1. Texas Rangers

There were moments during the postseason when it seemed as if nobody could get a ball through the left side of the Texas infield between Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. There is a perception within the organization that the defensive dominance of the guys on the left side of the infield helped second baseman Ian Kinsler improve as well.

"I think when you play with guys like that, it's going to naturally raise your level of concentration," said one Texas evaluator.

There is no perfect defensive stat, no rock-solid way to evaluate the best and worst infielders. But the Rangers fare well in one advanced measure:

Among second basemen, Kinsler ranked third in UZR 150. Beltre ranked second among third baseman. Elvis Andrus ranks in the Top 10 too.

Beltre and Kinsler are elite offensive players at their respective positions, and Texas hopes that Andrus -- who, at age 23, has already played in two World Series -- will begin to blossom as Jimmy Rollins did.

Mitch Moreland is penciled in as the Texas first baseman for now, but his name has come up in trade talks. Rival executives also wonder if eventually the Rangers will emerge in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. Without Fielder, Texas has the best infield in the majors. With him, well, the Rangers' infield would be among the best we've seen in decades.

The others in the top-10:

2. Cincinnati Reds
3. New York Yankees
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Los Angeles Angels
6. St. Louis Cardinals
7. Philadelphia Phillies
8. Tampa Bay Rays
9. Washington Nationals
10a. Kansas City Royals
10b. Chicago White Sox
10c. Colorado Rockies

You can read Olney's whole article here (insider).