Recalibrating the Remainder of the Season
By Eric Reining
After a rain delay partitioned the first inning just 4 pitches into Ian Kinsler’s leadoff at bat, the Minnesota Twins eventually defeated the Rangers 6-5 to avoid a 4-game sweep in Arlington. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz struck for their 35th and 20th home runs, respectively, but it wasn’t enough on a day where Rangers starter Scott Feldman wasn’t at his sharpest, and was let down by a terrible defensive showing behind him. Because the Angels had already lost earlier in the day in Detroit, all the Rangers lost in the standings was a half-game to the idol A’s. The division lead now stands at 5.5 games on Oakland, and a robust 9.5 on the Angels.
A couple weeks ago I posited a breakdown of the remaining scenarios and what it would take for either of the AL West’s 2nd or 3rd place team to take the divisional throne away from the two-time champion Rangers, and this article will simply be a recalibration now that we’ve moved ahead in time.
After 127 games, the Rangers are 75-52. The Athletics have played one fewer game; the Angels one game more.
If the Rangers finished the season at a .500 clip (for the sake of keeping things interesting I’ll say 17-18 rather than 18-17), they’d finish with a record of 92-70. For the A’s to win the division, they would have to go 24-12 (.666); for the Angels to win it, they’d have to finish 27-7 (.794).
If the Rangers finished the year playing .550 ball, they’d finish 94-68; Oakland would need to go 26-10 (.722) to overtake the crown; the Angels would have to finish 29-5 (.853).
If the Rangers finished with a .600 WP, they’d wind up 96-66. For Oakland to leapfrog Texas, they’d have to finish 28-8 (.778); for the Angels to win the division, they would have to play at an impeccable-esque 31-3 rate (.912).
So unless you find the Rangers to be a below-mediocre ball club from now until the season concludes, they are about as much of a lock to be playing in the postseason as there is out there. Obviously setting the bar at a .500 average from now until then would be considered a worst-case situation, but even at that it would take an extraordinary stretch of baseball from either of Oakland or Anaheim, and right now each of those two teams is focused enough just trying to hold their weight in the race for the second Wild Card.