Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays Impression #4
My final impression is that the Rangers are very good and the Rays are just slightly better. There was not a close game in this series. The Rays took game 1 8-3, Rangers won game 2 8-4, and the Rays took game 3 7-3. Tampa won the run differential 19-14. These two teams are both very good, they definitely are the two best teams in all of baseball. Tampa showed that right now they are the best team in baseball
Texas and Tampa are both very similar in their offensive approaches. They both make contact, both work counts, and both take advantage when runners are in scoring position. The one thing Tampa does that Texas does not do is steal bases. Tampa is first in baseball with 87 stolen bases. They are taking advantage of the larger bases in a way that Texas is not. Texas is 25th in the league at 34 stolen bases. Texas has the athletes, but they have made the decision to be more conservative. They do go first to third, and take extra bases when they can. They will only steal bases if the situation is right.
Tampa stealing so many bases also puts them into run-producing situations often. When they have runners in scoring position their batting average is third in the league at .288. Their running game also gives them more opportunities as well. They are second in the league with 604 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Rangers' reliance on their lineup to produce those situations has served them well. In a seven-game series where the differences between teams are smaller, something like Tampa hypothetically stealing 10 bases in a series to the Rangers two could be the difference.
Texas deserves to be mentioned in the conversation with the best teams in the league. That was shown out this weekend as it has been throughout this season. This team is not going anywhere. They are going to be in the race for the division and the playoffs till the end of the year. They just are not as good as Tampa Bay right now. No one in the league is as good as the Rays are. The Rangers and Rays will meet again after the All-Star break this time in Arlington.