There was a tweet I saw yesterday that asked how people could have picked the Angels over the Rangers before the season started. A claim that looks silly with the Angels slow start and the Rangers quick one.
My thinking? Name recognition. People saw Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana in the rotation. People saw Albert Pujols at first base. They now had Chris Iannetta catching. They had Kendrys Morales back from injury. They said that with an offense like that and a rotation like that, they should be one of the best teams in the league. And they probably will end up being close.
The problem is that the Angels may not have the best rotation in the division. Sure, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz don’t sound as good as the Angels, at least not to the people outside of Texas but given the results so far, this rotation combined with the Texas offense that has Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young and Mike Napoli and – you get the idea – it makes for one heck of a team.
You can see how people thought about it though. Up until a few weeks ago people thought that Roy Oswalt would be a fit in Texas. Yes, Holland is coming off of a great second half, but he’s not a household name yet. Colby Lewis pitched well in the playoffs last year but an ace? Not to outsiders. Harrison is a future ace, but many people would have put him aside in pre-season predictions. Feliz is a starter-turned-closer-turned-starter. How would he react? And Yu Darvish – the one person that most people liked more than any other – has been the worst pitcher in the rotation. So yes, it is possible to see how some people saw the Angels big names and put them ahead of Texas. People underestimated the rotation. The rotation is not allowing them to do it any more.
It is still early and regression is bound to happen but for now, the rotation has no question marks and looks to be one of the strengths of this team. In fact, sometimes I almost forget that Scott Feldman and Mark Lowe are members of the bullpen. I’d forget Koji Uehara too, but he doesn’t let you forget him.
I’ll be honest. Before watching this team on a daily basis, I didn’t know how good the pitchers in the rotation were, either. But now that I see it, it’s obvious. And baseball fans around the country and starting to notice, too. The Rangers have been building a pretty good pitching staff and getting attention on their treatment of pitchers ever since Nolan Ryan and Mike Maddux and Ron Washington came to Arlington. Now, it’s becoming better than pretty good.