The Texas Rangers have done the best thing that they could to increase their playoff odds as of late. Win games. They are currently on a six-game heater and fresh off a four-game sweep on the road of fellow AL wild card competitor, the Toronto Blue Jays.
At the conclusion of last Friday's home loss to the Oakland Athletics, according to Fangraphs, the Rangers odds of making the playoffs had dropped to a season low, 38.6% (the preseason odds were set at 37.7%).
Texas Rangers playoff odds
So, what will a six-game winning streak do for the playoff odds of a team that is still in the race for both an AL wild card spot and the AL West? Well, over the six days the Rangers odds of making the playoffs has skyrocketed to 88.8% (over a 50% increase!) to make the playoffs. The odds of winning the division are still lagging behind at 18.1% (3.2% last Friday), compared to the Houston Astros at 63.3%. Fangraphs also give the Seattle Mariners an 18.7% chance of winning the AL West.
You might be asking why the Astros have such better odds at winning the division than the Rangers do, despite only holding a half game lead over Texas. Well, there are a few factors working against the Rangers in their quest for the AL West title. First off, the Astros do have the half game lead already. The teams have identical loss totals (64), but Houston has one more win on the books (83) than Texas (82).
Plus, the Astros hold the tie breaker over the Rangers thanks to Texas only going 4-9 in the season series against their in-state rival. So for the Rangers to leap frog the Astros for the AL West title, they will need to amass two more wins down the stretch than Houston does. That doesn't sound crazy, until you realize that the Rangers only have 16 games remaining in the regular season.
Additionally, the schedule is much more in the Astros favor than the Rangers. The Astros still have all six of their season games against the worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals. Fangraphs has the Astros projected strength of schedule remaining at .485 and the Rangers at .516. They also predict that the Rangers will end up with 90 wins and with the Astros coming in with 92.
So, the AL West remains a bit of a longshot, but an AL wild card spot is once again firmly in the Rangers grasp. With just 16 regular season games remaining, it will be fascinating how this all plays out. Welcome in meaningful games in late September Rangers' fans. It has been a while. Keep enjoying the ride!