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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Rangers fantasy countdown: No. 5

By Richard Durrett

I asked a couple of fantasy experts at ESPN.com to count down their top 5 Texas Rangers in terms of fantasy value for the 2014 season. Perhaps this will help some of you in your upcoming drafts.

Tristan H. Cockcroft and Eric Karabell will give us their thoughts on some of the top players. We'll start with their No. 5s and work our way down.

Cockcroft No. 5: Elvis Andrus

The Rangers' shortstop is coming off an interesting 2014. He began the season struggling and was hitting only .242 with 31 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and a .300 on-base percentage in 92 games before the All-Star break. That wasn't even close to his expectations -- fantasy or otherwise.

But after the break, things changed tremendously. Andrus batted .313 in the 69 games after the All-Star Game. He had 36 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and a .369 on-base percentage.

Judging by his career numbers, the second half of 2014 was more in line with what Andrus should project to do in the future.

So what does that mean for his fantasy value?

Cockcroft: "Andrus has plenty of speed. Baseball-Reference.com recorded him with a major league-leading 10 baserunning WAR last season, erasing the memory of his 21-steal 2012, which now looks like the clear outlier during his five-year big-league run to date."

Draft position: Fifth-round pick (in a 12-team, standard scoring league)

Andrus has the ability to get on base and make some things happen. And with Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre now occupying the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in the order right behind him, his run scored total has a chance to go up too.

Karabell No. 5: Shin-Soo Choo

The Rangers' new leadoff hitter is an on-base machine. The question is whether he can do something once he gets there to boost his fantasy value.

Karabell says he believes since Choo finds so many ways to get on base -- walks, hit-by-pitches -- that there's value there already.

Karabell: "This walk machine comes off the third 20-homer, 20-steal season of his career, and since there is no such thing as positional scarcity in fantasy anymore -- all offensive positions are kind of weak now -- I'll surely take Choo's numbers over what shortstop Andrus provides. Put simply, it's tougher to roster any hitter that does not provide power, especially using a top-10 pick to do so. Andrus is a nice fantasy option, but also stole 'only' 21 bases in 2012. Choo is simply more versatile for fantasy, brings a better batting average and I'd take him right after his teammate Alex Rios in round 5."

Don't forget that Choo, like Andrus, can add to his fantasy totals as Fielder and Beltre drive him in.