CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 4: Manager Ron Washington #38 takes starting pitcher Colby Lewis #48 of the Texas Rangers out of the game during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 4, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Imagine a team that is well-above-average on the mound and at the plate. Now, go even deeper into your imagination and try to conjure up images of four out of five members of its starting rotation being no worse than 27% better than the average starter, plus an entire bullpen that is much better than the league-average pitcher. If your head hasn't exploded yet, take one more journey and try to envision a lineup in which only two regulars have a sub-100 OPS+.
If you're even still alive, you're probably thinking that these things don't exist. After all, if you're reading this, you're most likely a fan of the Colorado Rockies. However, I'm here to tell you that these things DO exist. These things are called, in no uncertain terms, The Texas Rangers.
At 43-27, the Rangers are the best team in Major League Baseball. Looking at their team statistics, it is very, VERY easy to see why. The single biggest reason for their success is that, although they play at a ballpark that is almost every bit the hitter's paradise of Coors Field, the Rangers are still able to negate the effect that it has on the opposing team by sending out a very good pitching staff that is headed by Colby Lewis, who owns a K/BB ratio of 7 and an ERA+ of 146. Behind him are Matt Harrison and rookie sensation Yu Darvish, who are a combined 18-7 and boast ERA+ figures of 128 and 127, respectively. And, while Darvish has struggled with walks (five per nine innings), he leads the club with 9.7 K/9, which helps offset the wildness a bit.
Derek Holland was the single weak link in their rotation this season (86 ERA+), and he is now on the DL. Unfortunately, so is Neftali Feliz, who transitioned well from closer to starter; in seven starts, he posted a 139 ERA+. Scott Feldman took Holland's place in the rotation, and he has struggled so far this season (73 ERA+). As for Feliz's replacement, you may have heard of him; he goes by the simple-yet-strong name of Roy Oswalt, and he will make his 2012 and Rangers debuts tonight against the Rockies.
One very underrated part of the Rangers' success has been the re-emergence of Joe Nathan, who took over closing duties as Feliz moved into the rotation. Nathan has been nothing short of brilliant; in addition to racking up 15 saves, he has struck out 34 batters and walked just 2 in 28.2 innings. That is video game shit right there. And, although the bullpen as a whole has dealt with some shuffling due to injuries, the back-end, which features Nathan, Mike Adams, and Mark Lowe, has remained stable.
The Rangers have an offense. This guy is somewhat of a key part to it:
#32 / Center Field / Texas Rangers
May 21, 1981
|2012 - Josh Hamilton||.331||.388||.674|
Take a look at those numbers for a second. Now, check out these ones: 22 HR, 64 RBI, 38 XBH, 172 OPS+. Finally, try to digest this one: 7 games missed due to injury/illness, 50 less plate appearances than the team leader. That means, of course, that even with all the damage Hamilton has done, it could be a lot uglier for opposing pitchers if he were able to stay in the lineup every day. The guy is simply unbelievable.
There are, of course, many very good players behind Hamilton, notably Mike Napoli (11 HR, 106 OPS+), Mitch Moreland (10 HR, 116 OPS+), and Adrian Beltre (12 HR, 122 OPS+). Oh, and Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz and David Murphy and Michael Young andholyshitthisteamisstacked.
Pitching (mis)matchups and more after the jump...
Tonight at 6:05 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Christian Friedrich (4-3, 5.60 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Tomorrow at 1:05 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Josh Outman (0-3, 8.41) vs. Colby Lewis (6-5, 3.00)
Sunday at 5:05 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Alex White (2-5, 6.06) vs. Matt Harrison (9-3, 3.41)
Texas Rangers Injuries