Ranking the 2012 Rangers and the 10 Worst Playoff Race Collapses of All-Time
We had another wild season finale in Major League Baseball in 2012. After watching the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves go through epic collapses last season, we saw the Oakland Athletics steal the pennant from the reigning American League Champion Texas Rangers in a stunning three-game sweep in Oakland.
It was an absolutely shocking collapse for many, but where do the Rangers rank all-time as far as stumbling in September? Let's take a little baseball history lesson.
2012 Texas Rangers
Up five games with nine to go, the Texas Rangers looked like they were coasting to their third straight AL West Division crown. But after splitting series with the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, the Rangers found themselves with just a three-game lead over the A’s, with the division winner to be decided over a three-game set in Oakland.
It would be no easy task to swoop the pole position in the AL West from the Rangers, with the Athletics needing to sweep in order to clinch the division. After grinding out two one-run wins in games one and two of the regular season finale, Texas fully imploded and blew a 5-1 lead to complete its epic downfall.
And though the Rangers led by as many as 14 games over the course of the season and have a payroll more than double of their division rival, they don’t rank higher on this list because they’ll still get a shot in the wild-card round this season.
2005 Cleveland Indians
The 2005 Indians appeared to be finished in late July, posting just a 51-49 record through the first half of the season, but then went on a torrid tear through the second half to pull just one-and-a-half games behind the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central division lead and securely held the Wild Card with seven games to go.
For the sports city that has endured the worst over the years, losing six of the last seven and watching their playoff hopes usurped by the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox had to be a familiar yet dreaded feeling of bleeding. It wouldn’t be until 2007 and the infamous bug incident that the Tribe would return to the playoffs.
2010 San Diego Padres
The Padres led the San Francisco Giants by six-and-a-half games on August 25, but after a myriad 10-game losing streak, the division lead evaporated to just one. The Pads ended up facing off against the Giants on the last day of the season with a chance to pull even again for the division lead, but Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants would have none of that, hurling a shut out en route to the Giants' first title run in the Bay Area.
It still stings Padre fans a bit, as budget-saving moves forced the Padres to dismantle much of their 2010 roster (including trading star slugger Adrian Gonzalez). San Diego has since been in rebuilding mode and has yet to finish above .500.
2009 Detroit Tigers
The Tigers had a three-game lead with four games to play in the AL Central, and all appeared to be well in Detroit as they looked to gear up for another World Series run. However, after finishing the season losing three of their last four contests, the Tigers found themselves in a one-game playoff with the Twins for the pennant.
Minnesota ended up edging the Tigers in 12 innings with a 6-5 win, sending the Motor City home early in October. The Tigers would next make the playoffs in 2011 behind an MVP effort by Justin Verlander.
2011 Atlanta Braves
The Braves had a huge eight-and-a-half game lead in the Wild Card over the St. Louis Cardinals, but after an 8-18 record in September, the Cards were able to sneak into the playoffs and win their second World Series title in five years.
The dagger to the Braves' postseason hopes came on the last day of the season, when they fell in extra inning to that year’s NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies. With the Braves and Cardinals matched up in this year’s Wild Card round, it’ll be interesting to see if Atlanta can get back at the reigning world champions.
1969 Chicago Cubs
A franchise with a reputation for choking, perhaps the worse instance of faltering came in 1969 for the lovable losers. At 74-45 on August 16, the Cubbies were nine games up in the division. Somehow at the end of the season, the Cubs ended up eight games out of first behind the Mets and more than well on their way home. That’s 17 games total they fell off the map in under a month-and-a-half.
Only the Chicago Cubs could pull that off…
2007 New York Mets
With a seven-game lead in the NL East with 17 to play, the Mets were on the cusps of pleasing one of the most dissatisfied sports fanbases on the planet by making the playoffs in 2007.
However, after losing 12 of those games, the Mets found themselves on the verge of elimination on the last day of the season. After the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 coupled with a Mets 8-1 loss to the Marlins, New York found itself clearing out its lockers early in 2007.
The Mets have not since qualified for the postseason, and in the aftermath of the Madoff scandal, it appears it might be some time before they get another shot.
1995 California Angels
With a 64-38 record on August 15 and an 11-game lead on the Rangers and 12 games up on the Mariners, the Angels looked unstoppable in the AL West in 1995.
Then cue a nine-game losing streak and a 14-29 record in the final 43 games to complement. The Angels found themselves in a one-game playoff with the Seattle Mariners to walk away with the pennant. Needless to say, the Angels lost that game at the Kingdome. Seattle ended up losing in the ALCS to the Indians, but wholeheartedly invoked one of the worst September collapses ever upon its AL West rivals.
2011 Boston Red sox
From beers and friend chicken in the clubhouse to their 7-19 September record, the Red Sox have been a complete disaster since Buck Showalter’s Balitmore Orioles eliminated them on the last day of the season in 2011.
Evan Longoria’s walk-off home run in Tampa solidified Boston’s early elimination from the playoffs, leading to the organization clearing house by firing legendary GM Theo Epstein and two time World Series champion manager Terry Francona.
Beantown has been a state of dystopia since the two were extricated from Fenway, finishing in dead-last in the AL East in 2012, which makes this fall collapse one of the worst in the history of the sport.
1978 Boston Red sox
To a diehard Red Sox fan, the 1978 Boston Massacre has to sit near the top as one of the all-time lows of the franchise with many blemishes. After holding a 14-game lead over their arch-nemesis New York Yankees, a Red Sox roster which featured legends like Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley absolutely fell on their face down the stretch, with the Bronx Bombers forcing a one-game playoff for the pennant.
The New York edged the Sox 5-4 in that playoff game at Fenway, thanks in no small part to a monstrous go-ahead solo shot by Yankees slugger Bucky Dent. That served as the final dagger for Boston, who would miss the playoffs and wouldn’t end the curse of the Bambino until 2004.