Even after the Texas Rangers blew their World Series chances five years ago, the 2016 squad seems more equipped than years before.
Currently, the Texas Rangers sit with a 85-58 record. Their magic number is now 12. Not to mention they have a nine game lead over the Houston Astros. Rewind to five years ago, and the Rangers finished the season 96-66. While there may still be three weeks of baseball left to play, this team could eclipse the 2011 season and more.
During the 2011 campaign, the team had some of the most dominant hitters to play in the game. The list included former All-Stars Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler. While hitting seemed to be the pivotal point of their game, the Rangers’ bullpen did not lack far behind.
Pitchers like C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando helped carry the load for the team. While all signs pointed towards a World Series title, there were some key components the group lacked as a team. This years’ 2016 Rangers seem to have fixed those problems that the group lacked way back when.
Positives of the 2016 Texas Rangers team:
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1. The Strength of their Bullpen.
In 2011, Texas had great starting pitching. None of the starters that season finished below 10 wins. While starting pitching wasn’t a huge problem in Rangerland, relievers and closers are where the team hurt the most. Combined, the relievers/closers finished with a 14-14 record and struggled closing out games. Neftali Feliz could justify to this statement. But, let’s not be reminded of his crucial game six.
Back to the future 2016, and the current group of non-starters have exceeded their potential. When Shawn Tolleson was sent to the 60 day DL, some wondered how Texas would fare.
Off-season addition Matt Bush and re-occurring players in Sam Dyson helped diminish any doubts. Already the deep load of bullpen has 20 wins, 50 saves and a 4.43 era. If this group of relievers/closers can keep consistent, the team has a great chance of doing what Feliz could not do: which is close out games in crucial postseason situations.
Ps: With Colby Lewis back, the line-up has the option to use a six-man rotation if needed.
2. Option of rotating position players
When the Rangers made the World Series in 2011, the team relied on Mike Napoli and Craig Gentry as their go-to bench players. Napoli proved to be their only utility player who put up numbers as he finished the season with the second best batting average on the team. Texas did not have many players they could rely on to help rotate the field for them if needed.
The difference five years down the road is this exact situation. If any one of the starters went down or needed some rest, the Rangers have many options to go too. When looking at the team’s current bench they have reliable players such as Jurickson Profar, Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields.
Profar has shown the team he can rotate between positions when his name is called upon. The same goes for Rua who has switched between left field and first base this season. And who can forget about Robinson Chirinos as he has switched starting duties with catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
The number of players the Texas Rangers can call upon exceeds that of fives years ago and this is key to having a deep post-season run.
3. Team Chemistry
Team chemistry is one of the biggest strengths of the 2016 Rangers. Currently, the team leads the league in come from behind wins. They also have the same number of comeback wins as they did in 2011, which is six. Texas currently has the most wins in the American League and have the second best record in the MLB.
The hashtag #nevereverquit is a motto this team has stuck by since the addition of general manager Jeff Banister. The high fives and rubbing of Beltre’s head are just of the things that illustrate the connection this team has. With just three weeks left of baseball, the current squad has many of the tools that were lacked in 2011. There is nothing the 2016 Texas Rangers cannot do, well except rub Beltre’s head.