The Texas Rangers became the first American League team and the second team overall — joining the Chicago Cubs — to secure a postseason berth after clinching the AL West on Friday night.
The triumph continues a pretty solid run of success for the Rangers. This marks their second straight division title and their fourth dating back to 2010. In fact, the Rangers won it back-to-back in 2010-11 as well, before reaching and losing the World Series in both of those seasons. Texas played in the inaugural wild-card play-in game in 2012, losing to the Baltimore Orioles.
Despite that success, and despite eight postseason appearances overall, Texas remains one of eight franchise to have never won a World Series. At least one of those teams, the Washington Nationals, will be joining them in the postseason. The Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros remain hopeful, while the Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres remain hopeless, at least for one more season.
We’re here to talk about the Rangers though. More specifically, we’re here to give you five reasons we believe this could finally be the season they celebrate with a championship parade.
Few teams possess a pair of aces as imposing as Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Granted, both come into the postseason with question marks. Hamels had struggled until tossing seven scoreless innings in Friday’s clincher. His ERA coming in his previous four starts had been 10.50. Darvish, meanwhile, is still rounding into form coming off 2015 Tommy John surgery. He’s battling his command and consistency, but like Hamels is dominating on any given night. When you can throw those arms three, four, maybe even five times in a series, it’s a huge plus.
THEY PACK QUITE A PUNCH
We’re absolutely talking about Rougned Odor here. Though it really has nothing to do with the overhand right he landed on Jose Bautista that cost him eight games in May. It’s all about his career-best 31 home runs, which have added yet another dimension to the Rangers offense. Odor’s home runs are the third most among MLB middle infielders this season, and they far surpass his 25 career homers over two MLB seasons. His ability to provide instant offense could make a difference in a tightly contested playoff game.
THE NEW GUYS
General manager Jon Daniels did an effective job at the trade deadline, swooping in to acquire Jonathan Lucroy after the veteran catcher rejected a trade to Cleveland. Daniels also added Carlos Beltran, who like Lucroy has provided some thump. So far, Lucroy has 10 of his 23 home runs this season with Texas, while Beltran added six. They alone are a powerful duo. Added to Odor, Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond, they may put the Rangers offense over the top.
Some might say the Texas Rangers are lucky considering they clinched with only a +12 run differential. You could also argue that they are battled and resilient considering they’re an MLB-best 36-11 in one-run games and 47 wins in games they’ve trailed. There’s always going to be luck, but those are attributes of a competitive team that’s not likely to panic if things get rough in a postseason game or series. Given the already mentioned talent, the experience and their proven resilience, they’re a dangerous team.
No, he’s not coming out of retirement, but he’s a source of inspiration. Fielder was with the team Friday night as they celebrated their division championship. He plans on being around as long as they’re alive, and the Rangers are happy to have him. No, his mere presence won’t will them to a championship, but there’s something to be said for the perspective he can provide in terms of appreciating the game itself and seizing the opportunity in front of them.
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES:
– Chicago Cubs
– Los Angeles Dodgers
– Washington Nationals
– New York Mets
– Cleveland Indians
– Boston Red Sox
– Baltimore Orioles
– Toronto Blue Jays
– San Francisco Giants
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