Rangers look to take next step in 2017

Prospects, back end of rotation question marks as Texas eyes World Series

Rangers look to take next step in 2017

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have played past 162 games in six of the past seven years. That impressive run includes four division titles, two pennants, one American League Wild Card playoff and one tiebreaker game.

All that is missing is a World Series title.

"The last eight or nine years, we haven't finished the job," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We have work to do. But we're proud of our track record."

The Rangers enter their 57th season of existence in 2017 still without a World Series title, going back to being the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. Maybe the drought will come to an end next season.

Beyond that, here are five things to look for from the Rangers in '17:

1. Two prospects: For the past four years, infielders Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar have carried the burden of being the Rangers' top two prospects. Yet their tremendous potential remains just that.

Profar shows off his speed

Profar missed all of 2014-15 because of a shoulder injury, and he is now a player without a position. He is best in the middle infield, but those two spots are occupied by shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Rougned Odor. Profar's superb baseball aptitude has allowed him to play multiple positions, and the Rangers love his versatility. Profar wants to be an everyday player at one position.

Gallo's offensive numbers in the Minor Leagues have been outstanding, although they have come with a high number of strikeouts. Some injuries haven't helped, and his premature brief shots in the Majors have led to mixed success. If the plate discipline comes and he stays healthy, Gallo could take off.

Banister on Gallo

2. Choo must do: Over his last 162 games, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has hit .275 with 107 runs scored, 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 82 RBIs. He has a .382 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage.

Statcast: Choo's hustling grab

Those numbers will work for the Rangers if Choo can stay healthy. But he was on the disabled list four times this past season. The Rangers desperately need Choo in the lineup every day for a full season, whether it is at designated hitter or in the outfield.

3. Mr. 3,000: Adrian Beltre enters his 20th season in the Major Leagues with plenty of chances to achieve more milestones. But one of the biggest is right in front of him.

Beltre sits at 2,942 hits, meaning he needs 58 more to reach 3,000 for his career. Doing so will erase any lingering doubts about his future enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

#THIS: Beltre, national treasure

Beltre also has 445 career home runs, so he is two good seasons away from 500.

4. The rotation: The Rangers know they will have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish at the front of their rotation, followed by Martin Perez and Andrew Cashner. There is no doubt Perez and Cashner are the two biggest X-factors.

Perez went 10-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 33 starts this past season. It was his first full year since returning from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 3.24 ERA in 18 home starts and a 5.78 ERA in 15 road outings. Perez needs to duplicate his home success on the road.

Cashner on signing with Rangers

Cashner has been on the DL four times in the past three seasons, so he needs to stay healthy. But he has also been better in his home park than on the road. Over the past three seasons, he has a 2.84 home ERA and a 5.53 road ERA.

5. The Year of Design: The Rangers have announced they will build a new ballpark to be opened in 2020. They have secured funding and approval for the facility and signed up all the key people to build it.

Manfred on Rangers' new park

The next step is designing the new ballpark, and one event anticipated in 2017 is a formal announcement of what the facility will look like. Also be ready for a formal groundbreaking photo opportunity.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.