How Good Are The Texas Rangers, Really?
Friday night, the Rangers weathered a perfect game into the 7th inning from Kendall Graveman to beat the Oakland A’s 3-0 and become the first American League team to clinch its division.
This is pretty surprising, actually, as the Houston Astros were expected to be in the hunt for the entire season, if not win the AL West themselves. In fact, it’s the Seattle Mariners that sit in second place, around 10 games behind the Rangers.
So how did the Rangers run away with this division so effectively? How do they stack up against the other likely playoff teams in the AL? Let’s take a look.
The first thing that jumps out at you when looking at the Rangers is just how incredibly deep their lineup is. In the outfield, they have rookie sensation Nomar Mazara in right. Mazara has 20 home runs, 64 RBIs and a .275 batting average and, though he has been completly overshadowed by Michael Fulmer of Detroit and to a much greater degree Gary Sanchez of the Yankees, Mazara is my pick for AL Rookie of the Year. Just look at those numbers.
In center, Texas has shortstop-turned-centerfielder Ian Desmond, who got off to a really hot start and has cooled off a bit down the stretch but still sports a .287 average to go along with 22 bombs, 20 steals, and 84 RBIs, good for a 2.8 bWAR and well worth the $8 million the Rangers gave him at the end of the off season.
In the infield, the Rangers have future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre at third, turning in another typically monstrous offensive season. 31 homers, 100 RBIs and a nearly .300 average, all in all a 5.9 bWAR and a 129 wRC+ from the hot corner in the middle of the lineup is a real threat to opposing pitchers. Texas also has $120 million man Elvis Andrus at short. Andrus never really lived up to the hype on offense but is a defensive machine and his .297 average is a career high.
But neither of those guys is the best bat in the infield, or even the lineup. That distinction goes to Rougned Odor, an MVP contender at second base with 31 homers, an .801 OPS, 85 RBI, and 14 steals, all career highs. Buster Olney once called Odor, who is in talks with Texas on an extension and is only 22 years old, a possible future Hall of Fame guy. At this rate, Rougned is making Buster look pretty smart.
You might have noticed that I left out a few positions when running through the Rangers’ lineup. That’s because the real story of this season for Texas has been the guys they added along the way.
The Rangers had a pretty comfortable 6 game division lead on July 31 and they were second in the AL in record but the Astros were charging hard and the lineup was a little top heavy. Instead of standing pat, Rangers GM Jon Daniels went out and got....
Read the rest of this post over at Off the Bench here.