Fear the Texas Rangers

Ryan MetcalfAnalyst IMay 19, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07:  Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers waits in the field against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on May 7, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

It’s officially time to fear the Texas Rangers, although it has taken almost the whole decade. There is not a single reason why the Rangers are in first place right now, it’s a combination of everything. That’s the sign of a winning team, and a team to fear.

Pitching is the most important thing in baseball. No fan would disagree with that. Everyone loves to see the long ball, but the long ball doesn’t matter if the other team scores.

The Rangers have led the league in lowest ERA so far during the month of May. Raise your hand if you knew that. I doubt many do, since the Rangers receive little media attention. I’m not sure the Rangers have ever led the league in lowest ERA at any given time.

The Rangers’ starters average a quality start nearly every outing. Nothing like that has happened in Texas this decade.

Kevin Millwood is reviving his career. He’s the leader on this pitching staff, and that’s a great sight to see. He’s well on his way to 180 innings pitched, which will give him an automatic contract.

Vicente Padilla is pitching well, and is not afraid to hit batters. That gives the Rangers some attitude.

The young guns are developing, and that’s fun to watch. Matt Harrison had a 22 inning scoreless streak and has lowered his ERA a full three points over the last month.

Brandon McCarthy is finally healthy enough to pitch and pitch well.

Scott Feldman finally got his starting spot. He continues to earn it every day. He has not given up more than three runs in any start.

The biggest reason for the change is clearly Mike Maddox and Nolan Ryan. It’s hard to say who has more influence, but the end result is all that matters.

The Rangers are throwing strikes and are not taking their time to pitch. It’s rare for any Ranger game to go past three hours.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Rangers games over in less than three hours. Actually, I’m not sure when that’s ever happened.

Then there is the fielding.

If you haven’t seen Elvis Andrus play shortstop, then you’re missing out. Andrus makes Michael Young look like an amateur. Keep in mind Young won a Gold Glove at shortstop last year.

Andrus has won the game time and time again with his glove. He’s well on his track to multiple Gold Gloves. Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel come to mind.

The defense is why the Rangers pitching has done so well. The defense is winning those close one-run games for the Rangers. The Rangers are tied for the lead headed into tonight’s action with one-run victories.

Bet you didn’t know the Rangers are dead last in the league in strikeouts. They are dead last by a good margin too.

The offense has always been the Rangers' specialty. This year is no exception.

The Rangers are near the top of the league in runs scored and lead the league in home runs. It’s hard to pinpoint the best Ranger hitter, although many would say Ian Kinsler.

Everyone is good, from the leadoff man, Kinsler, to the number nine hitter.

Ultimately, it comes back to the pitching and fielding. I’m adding fielding to the common phrase because the Rangers pitchers are not pitching as well as their record indicates.

It’s all about the defense preventing runs.

That’s led to a positive runs scored to runs allowed ratio. It’s also among the league best, well into multiple digits.

I’m positive I’ve never seen that before.

It’s time to fear the Texas Rangers.