This Week’s Explosive Journey Into The Future
By Eric Reining
The Rangers destroyed the Mariners on Saturday night, 15-3, thanks to, in part, a combined 10 runs crossing the plate in innings 7 & 8. Martin Perez shook off a weak first couple frames — where he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits — and finished the game going 7.0 strong, turning the game over to his bullpen with a 5-3 lead. He even bested the American League’s best pitcher per FanGraphs, Felix Hernandez (+5.3 fWAR), who oddly has a bitch of a time facing the Rangers, particularly in Arlington.
The offense cranked out a season-high in runs on 14 hits, and drew 8 walks against the Seattle pitching staff.
Although blowout wins are fun and all, beyond the fact that the team I wanted to win actually won, I don’t find them especially interesting; maybe I’m Buzz Killington, but I would rather be watching a pitching dual.
What I can appreciate — conflated by Texas hurling more flaming bags of shit on Seattle’s already-gone-to-shit season — is that Oakland lost to the Indians on Saturday night, 7-1. This drives the Rangers’ lead on the West back up to 1.5 games.
The Rangers and A’s meet again on September 2nd; here is how their schedules stack up until that date:
TEX — SEA (1), HOU (3), @CHW (3), @SEA (3), MIN (3)
OAK — CLE (1), SEA (3), @BAL (3), @DET (4), TB (3)
In other words, the Rangers next 13 games come against teams with losing records, none of whom are within a sniff of playoff consideration. (In fact, all 4 teams Texas plays between now and Oakland have bottomed out at 0.0% odds of making the postseason, per BP.)
Conversely, the A’s are running through the teeth of their 2013 slate; after their series with the lowly Mariners, there’s a good chance Oakland’s 13-game stretch opposing Baltimore, Detroit, Tampa and Texas will effectively define their season. Should they prevail without conceding more than two or three games to the Rangers, then the end of the year should again be dicey for fans in the greater D-FW area.
Because starting September 2nd against the Rangers, the A’s will only play one more series versus a team with a winning percentage above .500, which takes place in the middle of the month in Arlington.
FanGraphs projects the Rangers to finish the season 21-18 — giving them an overall mark of 92-70 — 2.0 games better than Oakland’s 90-72 projection.
Baseball Prospectus’ simulation is almost identical. Heading into Saturday’s contest they had Texas at 91.7 wins, Oakland at 90.7.
And now … some more math!
If the Rangers play .500 ball the rest of the way (20-19) — I’ll give them a +1 benefit-of-the-doubt game to satisfy the uneven amount of remaining matchups — they will finish the year 91-71. That means for the A’s to win the division, they would have to go 23-17 (.575) down the stretch.
If the Rangers play at a .550 clip the rest of the season (22-17), they would finish the year 93-69. For the A’s to win the division, they would need to go 25-15 (.625) down the stretch.
If the Rangers play .600 ball between now and the end of the season (24-15), they would finish the year 95-67. For Oakland to overtake the thrown, they would have to go on a 27-13 (.675) tear down the stretch.
Of course, there’s always the potential for the Rangers to go in the toilet, but let’s pretend .500 is the baseline. And if you are wont to bust a person’s balls for failing to make use of exact .500/.550/.600 records, know that the author was dealing with an odd number, and he was only trying to create a little contrast.