After leading or sharing a lead of the AL West for the entire season, the Rangers lost the title on the final game of the season with a loss to the A's. They back into the playoffs after being swept and having to settle for the wild card.
That extra game certainly is a blow to their World Series odds, and they match up against the scrappiest team out there in the Orioles.
While the Rangers must play an extra game, it is at home in Texas where they are 50-31 this year. The really strange tweak to the ALDS playoff schedule in 2012 arguably gives an edge to the wild card team over the No. 1 seed, as the first two games of the ALDS would be played in Texas--putting the Yankees and their flawed staff in a really tough spot in a short five-game series. As a result, the Rangers may actually have an easier path to the ALCS than any AL Team.
Keep in mind that finishing the season poorly certainly does not eliminate an MLB team from making a deep run. Just look to the 2000 Yankees going 9-17 down the stretch before winning the World Series, or the 2006 Cardinals finishing 4-10 including losing 8 straight before fitting themselves for rings.
Their experience and high-powered offense are enough for me to view them as AL favorites, even with a shaky pitching staff. They look to be in a good position for their third straight AL pennant, but they'll have to get past Baltimore first for a shot at the Yankees.