The Rangers have their share of star players. Guys like Berkman, Kinsler, Beltre, Andrus, Cruz, and Darvish may not be household names on the level of Pujols and Verlander, but they're pretty close. Obviously, none of these guys can really be an x-factor, since everyone is focusing on them. What an x-factor is for a club like Texas is a player who might not make or break their season, but a player who can contribute a lot to the team with a solid performance.
My 2013 x-factor for the Texas Rangers is David Murphy.
Murphy really isn't a guy who gets a lot of attention. Hell, until last season, he had never put together a two win season or logged 500 plate appearances in a season. But in 2012, Murphy broke out. He was the Rangers' every day left fielder, and in 521 plate appearances, Murphy posted an .859 OPS, homering 15 times with 11 steals. Murphy was also worth 4.0 fWAR, due in part to an above average defensive performance in left field. Murphy also has the capability to play center or right in a pinch, though left has been his strongest position in the past.
Now, there are definitely reasons to be bullish on Murphy repeating his excellent 2012 performance in 2013. After all, he had a career year at age 30, and will be hitting free agency this winter after turning 32 in October. Almost reminds you of Gary Matthews Jr, right? I'm not advocating that the Rangers sign Murphy to a long-term deal like the Angels did with Matthews when he hit free agency, but he can't be written off before the 2013 season just because of the fall from grace Matthews had. Yes, it's unlikely that Murphy will have just as good of a performance as he did in 2012 in 2013. But Murphy will have a huge impact on the 2013 Rangers in one way or another, especially with a largely untested center field platoon of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry on tap, and the brittle, even older than Murphy Nelson Cruz in right field.
We've been using the phrase "disaster potential" a lot this week, and the Rangers outfield has a lot of that in 2013 without Josh Hamilton in the fold. David Murphy actually might be the best bet to have an above average year among all of the Texas outfielders this season. That's why he's the x-factor this year: because he might be the most sure thing patrolling the grass at the Ballpark in Arlington, and no one is even giving him a second thought.