Third baseman Adrian Beltre had a very productive season with a .296 batting average, 32 homers and 105 RBI. Shortstop Elvis Andrus normally bats second, hit .279 with 37 steals and 96 runs. Catching duties are handled either by Mike Napoli, who batted .320 over the course of the season, or Yorvit Torrealba, a less-potent batter.
The outfield is manned by Josh Hamilton in center, Nelson Cruz in right and David Murphy in left. All three have solid hitting credentials and can hit for power. Mitch Moreland will share first base and DH duties with Young and also has power to spare. The Rangers had 210 home runs as a team, second in the majors to the Yankees (222).
The Ranger's bullpen was strengthened with the addition of Mike Adams, acquired from San Diego at the trading deadline. Adams is one of the best middle men in the game. He worked 27 games for the Rangers with a 2.10 ERA and 25 Ks in 25.2 innings. Closer Neftali Feliz saved 32 games in 38 chances.
Texas lost in the 2010 World Series to the Giants, 4 games to 1, and looks to repeat their initial trip to the fall classic with a better result.
Rays: Pitching and Defense
The Rays won the right to proceed into the playoffs on Evan Longoria's dramatic 12th inning home run, knocking off the Yankees, 8-7, just moments after the Red Sox lost to the Orioles, 4-3.
Tampa's starting pitching is their strength, but due to the schedule, Matt Moore, who started only one game for the Rays, will open in game 1. Moore was effective in his start, giving five innings of shutout ball on four hits and 11 Ks in a September 22, 15-8 win over the Yankees.
Kyle Farnsworth is the Rays' closer, saving 25 of 31 opportunities. Middle relief falls to Joel Peralta, Juan Cruz and Alex Cobb. Long relief has been a bright spot for the Rays, effective in close, low-scoring games, of which there were plenty during the season.
Tampa Bay had the second best team ERA in the league - 3.58 - right behind the Angels' 3.57.
Around the horn, Tampa is led by Casey Kotchman at first who had significant late-season contributions, but whose numbers overall are not impressive. Kotchman batted .306 with 10 homers and 48 RBI. Versatile Sean Rodriguez should also see time at first, DH and second base.
The top slugger on the team is third baseman Evan Longoria, who put up outstanding numbers - .244, 31 HR, 99 RBI - despite missing nearly 30 games at the start of the season. A healthy Longoria gives the Rays a fighting chance if the Rangers don't pitch around him.
Kelly Shoppach will do most of the catching and bat either 8th or 9th. Like Brignac, he's in for defense, because his .176 batting average just doesn't cut it. Shoppach has power, however. He hit 11 home runs in 221 at-bats and provided some key hits during the stretch run.
Johnny Damon will either play right field or DH. Damon, the team elder statesman, had a decent year with a .261 batting average, 16 homers and 73 RBI. Center fielder B.J. Upton catches anything hit his way, led the team in steals with 36, hit .243 with 23 home runs and 81 RBI. Left field is a sore spot. Desmond Jennings has been in a horrible slump, Sam Fuld tailed off after a hot start, but Matt Joyce (.277, 19, 75) has been solid and will likely get most of the playing time in left.
Conclusion: If Tampa's pitching isn't already worn out, the Rays can hang in with the Rangers, but the overall power of Texas with pitching that's good enough to compete might make this short series even shorter. The first two games are in Arlington, a big edge for the Rangers. Tampa is tthe site for game three, and four, if needed. Should the series go five, it's back to Texas. Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist need to produce for the Rays to be successful.