The “It” Factor


Oct 15, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington hoists the American League championship trophy after his team defeated the Detroit Tigers 15-5 in game six of the 2011 ALCS at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Those of us that love the baseball and especially those us that cover baseball have a tendency to go a little numbers crazy. We have typical baseball stats, we have odd baseball stats, we have habits of players stats, we have sabermetrics, we have vs. lefty and vs. righty, we even have stats for how a player does chewing gum vs. not chewing gum. The numbers can be overwhelming at times for those of us that cover the game, not to mention to you the reader of these sites. Sometimes we go a little far with the stats, but as we all know, baseball is a numbers driven game. So we love to give you numbers.

But sometimes, numbers don’t tell you the whole story. I was thinking back to the 2010 and 2011 Texas Rangers seasons while watching the World Series this year, thinking about what it was that helped the Rangers franchise get to their first and second World Series back to back. Sure they won more games than they lost, sure they dominated the National League and dominated the AL West in both seasons, and sure they had superstar hitters and dominate pitchers, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Dodgers and the Tigers have both dominated pitchers and superstars at the plate (the Tigers have arguably the best hitter in baseball in Miggy),but they both fell short of the ultimate goal of making it to and winning the World Series. Why? Because they didn’t have the intangibles to get there, that’s why.

The Red Sox have a kind of swagger about them, a togetherness that very much reminds me of the 2010-2011 Texas Rangers. They look like a group of little kids who are just out there having fun together, and that is what I am talking about. Going back to especially the 2010 season, everyone in the North Texas area wanted to be part of what was going on with the Rangers. Team chemistry doesn’t show up in a stat book anywhere. The claw and the antlers don’t show up in any of the numbers from that season. Pitching with more confidence because you know the guys behind you have your back also isn’t in the stats. It is something I like to call the “it” factor. The Texas Rangers had it in 2010 and in 2011, and they didn’t in 2012-2013, and it showed. In 2012, the Texas Rangers were one of the best teams in baseball on paper, but the cracks starting showing in August and then of course they fell apart in September of that season. In 2013, after losing the core of their offense, they never were considered one of the very best but still played hard with what they had. They just didn’t have the swagger that came with the two World Series seasons.

So how do the Texas Rangers get their swagger back? I would love to throw a bunch of numbers and statistics at you here and lay out a ten point plan on how the Rangers can get their groove back, but the simple answer is I don’t know. It takes the right group of guys, it takes the right kind of circumstances, and it takes a little luck as well. The Texas Rangers are a young team and they have a lot of good years ahead of them, and if they can re-acquire the 2010 swagger, I see no reason why the World Series is out of reach for this team. Baseball is a superstitious sport, and I must admit that I have mine. The numbers will be there in 2014, but will the moxy?  I guess we will have to wait and see.