The Texas Rangers are hovering around the .500 mark as they approach the mid-point of the season. The club is in the middle of the pack in the AL West, currently 5 games behind the surprising 1st place Houston Astros, but are right in the thick of things for a Wild Card berth, currently only 2 games back in that chase.
Following a dreadful April that saw the team open with a record of 7-13, the club turned it around in May. Highlighted by a 7-game winning streak, the Rangers pushed past .500 with a record of 19-11. The .500 pace continued into June, but the club has lost 6 of their last 7 and will look to turn it around this weekend. The Baltimore Orioles, also in the thick of the Wild Card chase, will welcome the Rangers for an intriguing four-game series starting on Monday.
State of the Texas Rangers
First-half Rangers MVP
Prince Fielder is having an All-star caliber season and has been far and away the Rangers best player thus far. Currently batting .346 with a .954 OPS, good for top 5 and top 10 in MLB respectively, Fielder has bounced back well from 2014’s injury shortened campaign. While his power numbers have dipped a bit (his 11 HRs put him on pace for around 25) he is well on his way to exceeding 100 RBIs for the year. If Fielder can stay healthy and the Rangers are able to snag a playoff spot, Fielder could be in the top 5 conversation for AL MVP.
Fighting Off the Injury Bug
If they could only stay healthy….has been a popular refrain for the Rangers faithful thus far this season. The team has seen more than enough games lost for its players due to injuries, let’s hope the injury bug gets squashed and the team can operate at full strength for the 2nd half. Perennially underrated Adrian Beltre recently returned from a stint on the DL and provides plenty of protection batting behind Fielder in the cleanup spot. While his season long totals will take a dive due to his DL stint, look for Beltre to have a strong 2nd half.
Josh Hamilton is currently undergoing a rehab in the minors and should be back before the All-star break. Hamilton started off well in his return to the Rangers with an OPS of 1.021 through 7 games. While keeping that pace for the rest of the year may be a bit much to ask, we all know what Josh is capable of if he can keep his head on straight. Playing in Texas agrees with him and he has enjoyed his most productive seasons as a member of the Rangers, here’s to hoping Josh has put the demons to rest.
Mitch Moreland provides some more pop for the lineup as his 9 HRs and 35 RBIs are both good for 2nd most on the team. Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Leonys Martin provide solid support in their complementary roles. If they can keep the injury bug away in the 2nd half, the Rangers can be one of the more productive offenses in the AL.
Yovani Gallardo and Nick Martinez have combined for 20 Quality Starts and both currently sport sub-3.00 ERAs. Colby Lewis has a solid 7 wins in 15 starts thus far but an ERA north of 4.00 is something to keep an eye on. After the big 3, things get a little murky. Wandy Rodriguez has only 5 QS so far and an ERA north of 4.00. Promising rookie Chi Chi Gonzalez has posted 3 QS in 5 games and a low WHIP and ERA are great signs for the 1st year hurler. We’ll see how he holds up for the rest of his rookie campaign, but the Rangers may have something here. Shawn Tolleson and Neftali Feliz anchor a bullpen that has been relatively solid overall, but needs to step things up for a 2nd half push.
The Rangers made it through their rash of injuries to remain in the thick of the hunt. If a returning Hamilton can carry over his hot start when he returns from injury, we could see a lot of long balls deep in the heart of Texas this summer. Baseballs carry well in the Texas heat, look for Hamilton, Fielder & Co. to lose their share over the fence this summer.
The upcoming series with the O’s sets up to be pretty intriguing. The O’s have battled their share of injuries but have rounded into form as the season has progressed. Similar to Texas, at full strength the Orioles have a potentially potent offense. I’ll call runs aplenty for this four game series that will give a good indication of where the Rangers stack up in the Wild Card race.
A run to the AL West Division crown may be a little too much to ask for, but the Rangers have the tools in place to stay in the Wild Card hunt deep into September.