I’ve been mostly quiet throughout these last few weeks. Quiet, and observant. Curious to see what Rangers’ fans and local Texas media think about the tepid play of the club over the current 10-12 patch since the team’s outrageous 16-5 beginning.
And it really hasn’t surprised me. People want to know why Ron Washington insists on pinch-hitting Brandon Snyder for Mitch Moreland against lefties at the end of some games, why Joe Nathan is pitching 4 consecutive days, why Ian Kinsler and Derek Holland are all of a sudden “overrated” since getting their off-season paydays (which has no merit and makes no sense to me), and why Michael Young sees more time in the field than he probably should.
To some extent, I can answer all these questions by simply saying: It’s May.
Sure, it’s frustrating to lose to teams like Kansas City and Oakland and Seattle, particularly in the blandly robotic nature in which some of those games played out. However, despite Oakland and Seattle each hovering around the .500 mark, neither of those two clubs possess the type of talent 1-25 to be able to sustain those records. The real threat to Texas is the Angels, and they sit at 20-25, a full 7.0 games back.
To put the Angels’ current seasonal mark into perspective, their .444 winning percentage is a hair worse than Texas’s .455 number during this bleak 22-game stretch. So if Texas played .500 ball for the remainder of the season, they’d finish with a record of 86-76. For the Angels to surpass that total, they would need to go 67-50 (.573), which isn’t impossible given how good they could potentially be, but if that team is out there, we certainly have yet to see it. And it’s rational to think that Texas will play better than .500 ball to close out the season, so you can do the math to extrapolate just how steep the odds get for the Angels.
In essence, what I’m saying is that Texas is in a commanding position to take the West for the 3rd year in a row. And it can’t be forgotten that, with a team as good and as driven as the Rangers are, the lofty expectations are self-imposed. A healthy chunk of their regular season is spent molding and evolving into what they will look like in October. Every season you are going to see the pains of growing through some of the team’s changes, and usually they come in the form of losses in the standings.
It’s fine to expect better from the Rangers, because they have spoiled their followers with some magnificent and unprecedented moments over the last three years. But it can’t be lost that this is a first place team. The panic button should still be a healthy distance away.