The Texas Rangers have been an interesting franchise as of late. The talent on this team is absolutely unbelievable. Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler will give pitchers nightmares before their next outing. Ron Washington has proven to be one of the better managers in baseball, regardless of what the critics say.
But, at the same time, it is hard to put so much stock in the Rangers right away for several seasons. The first reason is that it is so early in the season. Who knows what can happen when you're just barely over 20 games into a 162-game season. Also, the Rangers are beginning to prove themselves like the Buffalo Bills of the 1980's, in that their teams are for whatever reason dreadfully unsuccessful in championship performances.
That being said, something strikes me about this team. I really think this is the Rangers team that could finally pull through and win it all. Saying that as an A's fan is nothing short of painful, but I managed to get it done. Here is why I think the Rangers could pull through this year.
Hamilton has been a big name on both of the rosters that made the World Series and lost and it is clear that he will continue that success. This year, Hamilton is a different type of beast. He's on a pace right now that likely won't be kept up (this is baseball, you know), but is still eye-popping and well within danger of setting the personal bests needed to push the Rangers over the top.
Hamilton is on pace to score 135 runs, which is over 50 more runs than last season's total (80) and beats his personal best by 37 runs, when Hamilton scored 98 runs in 156 games in 2008. Hamilton is also on pace to tally 156 RBI, which would beat last season's total by 62 and best his MVP season number by 56.
Hamilton also has a better batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than he did in his 2010 MVP campaign.
If the Rangers' record so far in 2012 was not a clue (16-5), Texas has made some improvements to their roster from the two previous championship-less seasons. The Rangers may have lost C.J. Wilson to the division rival Angels, but they gained Yu Darvish, who has shown the ability to be dominant. Whether he can do that consistently is to be determined, but Darvish definitely has the stuff to do it.
Also, the Rangers fixed a problem from the 2011 roster that stuck out to me. The Rangers had five listed catchers in 2010 and four in 2011. I am aware that catching in the MLB is a very demanding job physically and that a replacement is needed to give the main guy off days when needed, but the way I see it, you don't need three or four of them.
Now, the Rangers have two catchers, Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba. With the spots the Rangers freed up by dropping the excess catchers, Texas made room for the versatile Alberto Gonzalez and Brandon Snyder in the infield, giving the big name players like Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler cushion to take days off in the brutal 162-game season. The Rangers also picked up Mitch Moreland in the outfield, who will again give the Rangers depth when they need it, whether it be an injury or normal fatigue.
It's early. It's very early. But the Rangers have a setup that could get them to their third straight World Series appearance, and maybe even win it this time.