Texas Rangers: 10 Reasons They're Doomed In 2010 MLB Playoffs

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2010

Texas Rangers: 10 Reasons They're Doomed In 2010 MLB Playoffs

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    The Texas Rangers clinched the first division title in 11 years, and eagerly await the chance to gain more respect while competing against the beasts of the AL East.

    Given the inexperience of the young Rangers and the health of Josh Hamilton, Texas could again find itself staring at an early exit from the postseason.

    Here’s a look at why the AL West champions won’t be hanging around for too long this year.

No. 10: History Isn’t On Their Side

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    The Rangers have had an inglorious playoff history to say the least.

    Texas has lost in the opening series to the Yankees three times, most recently in 1999, the last time they appeared in the postseason.

    With the prestigious Yankees and the young, but experienced Rays, looming on the horizon, it would be surprising if history will be altered this October.

No. 9: The Yankees Are Better

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    New York has a big advantage in experience and has very few weaknesses that could open the door for the upstart Rangers.

    The Yankees posted a 4-2 record against the Rangers in the regular season and have enough bats to out-slug Texas, especially if Josh Hamilton isn’t 100 percent.

    CC Sabathia has struggled in two of his last four starts, including allowing seven earned runs to the Rays last week, but his track record suggests he will bounce back.

    Ultimately, Robinson Cano and New York’s powerful hitting would be the difference against Texas.

No. 8: The Rays Are Better

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    Tampa Bay might not look like a better team on paper, but the Rays' experience and deep options off the bench give them an edge.

    The Rays starting rotation is good enough to cool down the Rangers bats, and in the end, Tampa Bay is better constructed to win in a short series.

    Regardless of which AL East team the Rangers play, they don’t have much of a chance unless Josh Hamilton is in the lineup.

No. 7: The Health of Frank Francisco

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    Josh Hamilton isn’t the only Ranger who is questionable for the postseason.

    Right-handed setup man Frank Francisco has been on the DL since late August and threw 20 pitches yesterday off the mound.

    The former closer is a key cog of the Rangers bullpen that was dominant for a long stretch earlier this summer.

    The goal is to have him ready for the start of the ALDS, but his health issues this season make him far from a sure thing.

No. 6: The Lack of Production at First Base

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    Throughout the ups and downs of the Rangers campaign, one thing has remained constant: The limited production from the first base position.

    Slugger Chris Davis was supposed to be the future at that position, but his struggles early in the season led to his demotion.

    Jorge Cantu was acquired from the Marlins to provide support at first, but he has struggled mightily in his return to the American League and didn’t record a single RBI in the first 25 games with Texas.

    Another option is Mitch Moreland, who has shown flashes of potential down the stretch in increased playing time.

    Regardless of who is playing first, the lack of production from the position could be the Rangers’ undoing.

No. 5: Which Vlad Will Show Up?

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    After getting off to a great start and making the Angels look like they had made a huge mistake in giving up their former slugger, Vladimir Guerrero came back to earth after the All-Star break.

    Vlad batted just .210 in July and struggled again in August, especially when it came to hitting for power.

    He has turned things around with a brilliant September, hitting .322 with a slugging percentage just below .500.

    But at 35, it’s difficult to say how long his body will hold up after another long season.

No. 4: Neftali Feliz Will Be Tested

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    The flame-throwing Feliz set a rookie record for saves in his first season as the Rangers closer and was absolutely dominant over long stretches.

    That could change with the stakes growing higher and the national spotlight shining on the Rangers.

    Feliz’s inexperience makes him far from a sure thing in the ALDS.

    He isn’t the only Ranger light on experience entering the postseason…

No. 3: Not Enough Experience

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    Despite the meteoric rise of the young Rays two years ago, experience generally prevails in the postseason.

    The Rangers have very little playoff experience, and with young players playing key roles, that could come back to haunt them against the likes of New York and Tampa.

    From Feliz to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, many of the Rangers have never even sniffed a playoff atmosphere.

    Starting pitchers C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, and Tommy Hunter will also be taking the mound with more pressure than they have experienced thus far in their careers.

No. 2: Cliff Lee Could Be Worn Down

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    After acquiring Lee from the Mariners, manager Ron Washington took full advantage of his new toy.

    Lee struggled in August while dealing with shoulder fatigue, giving up at least four earned runs in five consecutive starts.

    He has been much better down the stretch, but after having pitched 200 innings for a third straight season, there is certainly reason to be concerned about him breaking down.

    Maybe Washington should have started cutting back his innings a little bit sooner.

No. 1: Josh Hamilton’s Health

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    If the Rangers don’t have the likely American League Most Valuable player at close to full strength, the chances of surviving the ALDS are next to none.

    It’s that simple.

    Hamilton’s status for the postseason is still unclear as his ribs continue to heal. If he does play, he will likely have to withstand severe pain.

    The future is bright for Texas, but it’s never good to adopt the “Wait till Next Year” mantra.

    If Hamilton isn’t able to go, the Rangers might have no choice.