Could this be the year?


Current AL West standings:

1 Texas, 45-25 
2 Seattle, 36-33 (-8.5)
3 Houston, 34-36 (-11.0)
4 Los Angeles, 31-38 (-13.5)
5 Oakland, 28-41 (-16.5)

 

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(AP Photo/Bill Boyce)

The Texas Rangers are 20 games above .500 (45-25). The next-best figure in the American League belongs to the Baltimore Orioles, who are 12 games above .500 (40-28).

Texas has the best home record in the AL (24-10) and are tied with the Mariners for the best road record in the league (21-15). The Rangers have won 6 in a row, 8 out of 9, and 22 of their last 28 ballgames, vaulting them from 23-19 (.548) to 45-25 (.643).

It’s the best start in franchise history. In all of MLB, only the Chicago Cubs have a better record (47-20).

For a Rangers fan, 2016 has offered an abnormal amount of cosmic justice. Shall we just look at the timeline?

2010

Texas goes 21-6 in June; trades Justin Smoak, Blake Beaven and rapist Josh Lueke to the Mariners for superhuman LHP Cliff Lee; wins AL West; wins ALDS in 5 games over the Rays; wins ALCS in 6 games over the Yankees; loses World Series to the San Francisco Giants.

2011

Texas finishes regular season 96-66; wins AL West; wins ALDS in 4 games over the Rays; wins ALCS in 6 games over the Tigers; loses World Series in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

2012

Texas leads AL West all year, then loses division on final day of regular season to the Oakland A’s; loses first ever Wild Card playoff to Joe Saunders and the Baltimore Orioles.

2013

Texas underachieves, wins last 6 games of regular season only to lose one-game playoff against David Price and the Rays.

2014

Texas plagued by injuries; finishes with the worst record in the American League.

2015

After rough start, Texas pulls off miraculous comeback; wins AL West; loses ALDS in 5 games to the Toronto Blue Jays.


Sure, I suppose last year could have been considered the Redemption Season. But it was a lot of variance, and probably even more luck. The Rangers trailed the Astros by 8.5 games in July, and made up all that ground to win their 3rd AL West title in 6 years.

This season is the coronation for all the Rangers fans who believed their team had a secret, who believed the championship window was not yet shut.

Now, I get that this isn’t the time to feel all warm and cozy. I mean, it’s only been a year since the Rangers made up 8.5 games, and they did it at an even later point in the season. I’ve written all year that I expect the Astros to be a factor in the American League at some point in 2016. And the Mariners, well, even in spite of their hole in the standings, they have a better run differential (+54) than the Rangers (+42).

Win-Loss records mean more than run differential, but it’s a sign that Texas has clearly been luckier in 2016 than have the Mariners.

But back to the timeline: Has any team in MLB been unluckier than the Rangers over the last half-decade? We’re talking about a World Series favorite in consecutive seasons (2010 & ’11), who collapsed down the stretch to lose a division they should have won (2012), who lost coin-flip games (2012 & ’13), who was riddled by injuries and left for dead (2014), who was up 2-0 in the ALDS only to lose the next three games (2015). If ever a franchise deserved a break, it’s the Rangers.

And yet, they would probably tell you they don’t need any breaks. They would say they are as good as their record, and believe they are the team to beat in the 2016 World Series. I say this as a competitor.

And I project this because no matter how strong my feelings are for my favorite baseball team, and how strong they have been since 1996, or thereabouts, the actual guys in that clubhouse feel 10 times stronger.

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