For the better part of 2012, it looked like the Texas Rangers were on their way to their third straight World Series appearance, and this time with a legitimate shot at bringing home the title.
However, a late-season collapse -- in which they lost seven of their last nine games -- left the team with a 93-69 regular-season record and in a one-game wild-card playoff against the Baltimore Orioles. Then, before a home crowd of 46,931, the Rangers dropped the game 5-1 to the Orioles and a once promising season came to a quick and disappointing end.
Here is a recap of the Rangers' 2012 season:
Longest Winning Streak: 8 games (April 12-April 21)
Longest Losing Streak: 5 games (July 1-July 6)
Best Month: April (17-6)
Worst Month: October (0-3)
Most Runs Scored: 18 (Against Boston, April 17)
Most Runs Allowed: 21 (Against Seattle, May 30)
Team Home Runs: 200
Team Batting Average: .273
Team ERA: 4.02
Best Hitter: Josh Hamilton
Despite the fine season turned in by Adrian Beltre (36-102-.321) and the fact that he missed 14 games to injuries, it's hard to argue against the season Josh Hamilton had in 2012. Getting off to a torrid start, Hamilton was hitting above .400 through May 16 and ended the season with 43 home runs, 103 runs and 128 RBIs. Along the way, Hamilton picked up his fifth straight All-Star selection. The former first pick overall (1999 draft) has now hit 142 regular-season home runs in a Rangers uniform. Though his future with the team is currently uncertain, Hamilton's tenure with the team has been nothing short of fantastic and his bat will be hard to replace next season.
Best Pitcher: Matt Harrison
Though rookie Yu Darvish garnered most of the ink this season, it was starter Matt Harrison who turned in the better overall performance. A first-time All-Star, Harrison finished the season with an 18-11 record and a solid 3.29 ERA. What's more, the lefty led the team in innings pitched (213.1) and complete games (4) while tossing the only two shutouts for Texas in 2012.
Top Rookie:Yu Darvish
As good as advertised, Darvish got off to a 10-2 start and was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2012. The Japanese import would go on to finish the season with a 16-9 record, while logging 221 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings of work. And while the team did collapse in the closing month of the season, Darvish is not to blame as he complied a 3-0 record with a 2.21 ERA in September/October.
Top Propsect: Jurickson Profar
Only 19, Profar spent the 2012 season in the minors (Frisco) before being called up for a late-season cup of coffee with the parent team. Rated as the seventh best prospect in 2012 by Baseball America, Profar hit a robust .281 in the minors while having enough pop in his bat to collect 14 home runs and 47 extra-base hits. Whether he sticks with the parent team in 2012 may depend on what moves the Rangers make this offseason. Profar is one to keep an eye on in the future.
A fan of the Rangers since the 1972 season, the writer lists Jeff Burroughs as his favorite player, and Nolan Ryan's June 11, 1990 no-hitter against the A's as his favorite moment in team history. He spent this past season collecting Yu Darvish memorabilia.