For the first time since 2010, the Rangers are not defending AL champions. They didn’t get anywhere near the World Series last year with their one-and-done showing against Baltimore, and they aren’t the trendy pick to get there this October. That “honor” goes to the Toronto Blue Jays after they cleaned out the Miami garage sale before anyone else knew the Marlins had opened the doors.

In their own division, the Rangers are seen as contenders but not favorites. That privilege goes to the team with Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson, just to name a couple of World Series familiar faces. All of this is fine with GM Jon Daniels, who knows that being picked to win and actually accomplishing anything are two different things in the baseball world.

“I’m not sure how many people last year were talking about how well San Francisco and Oakland and Baltimore had done in the off-season,” Daniels said. “I like our team top to bottom. We’re not running and hiding.”

Should you like the Rangers as much as Daniels does?

I think the long-term answer is yes because the strength of this organization is where you want it to be in baseball and where it’s never been before in Texas. The Rangers should have good — and, with only a minimal amount of luck, very good — starting pitching for years to come.