After a rollercoaster finish to the regular season, the Texas Rangers are in the playoffs. They made it by the skin of their teeth, but they made it all the same.
Unfortunately for Rangers fans, there's no time to celebrate as Texas gets right back to work on Tuesday. The Rangers will kick off their postseason journey in Tampa Bay against the Rays, who are hosting the first two games of the American League Wild Card Series.
In order to advance to the ALDS, we need to win at least one of those games and take the best-of-three series. Tampa Bay may have finished with a better regular-season record than us, but Texas has more than enough talent on its roster to win this series and upset the Rays.
Here are three reasons why that could happen.
3 Keys to Rangers Upsetting Rays
1. Texas Has the Better Lineup
The Rangers and Rays were two of the best offensive teams in baseball this year. But only one of us was No. 1 in the American League, and that was clearly Texas.
With their deep, balanced and powerful lineup, the Rangers led the AL in just about every hitting category imaginable this season. That includes runs, hits, homers, walks, batting average, OBP, slugging, OPS, total bases and more. I could keep going, but you get the picture.
Tampa Bay ranked second in most of those categories, so you have to give it some credit. But in playoff series between two talented teams, games are won and lost on the margins, and we have a definitive edge here.
Having the AL's best offense is important because the Rays' pitching staff is so good. Tampa Bay ranked near the top of the league in numerous pitching categories, as usual, but that's only because their arms weren't facing our bats every night. If they were, those numbers would look quite a bit different.
I know that because it's true. In six games against the Rays this year, the Rangers scored 27 runs -- an average of 4.5 runs per game. That's a good deal higher than Tampa Bay's 3.86 ERA, which ranked third in the AL.
We've hit them before, so we can hit them again.