The First Day of the Rest of The 2013 Rangers Season

Kinsler
What is there to say, really? The Rangers are faced with seven games left in the regular season, and quite possibly they will be the last seven they play in 2013. Since the month of September began, the Rangers are 5-15 and have played themselves out of the AL West (officially gone to Oakland now) and Wild Card spots (longshots now). They no longer control their own destiny.
And yet, the Rangers are still conceivably in a position to grasp one of the remaining playoff spots, however unlikely it may be. To do so, what the first 155 games, and especially the last 15 games have told us about the true talent level of this ballclub, they have to be better than that.

David Murphy has sucked the life out of 465 plate appearances at a .220/.280/.376 (656 OPS) clip, with the worst defensive year of his career. For however many games he plays of the last seven, he has to be better than that.

Since the All-Star Break, Ian Kinsler has hit .263/.316/.379 (695 OPS). For seven games, he has to be better than that.

The one player who can really carry this offense, and has for much of the season, is Adrian Beltre. In September, he has hit .253/.317/.280 (597 OPS). For seven games, he has to be better than that.

Mitch Moreland hit .288/.338/.561 (899 OPS) before hitting the disabled list in June. Since returning, he has hit .190/.269/.363 (632 OPS). For seven games, he has to be more like the former, and not at all like the latter.

Leonys Martin was on fire through the month of June, slashing .293/.343/.452 (795 OPS). Since then, he’s regressed to .235/.291/.333 (624 OPS). For seven days, he has to be better than what he has been.

Elvis Andrus, Craig Gentry, and Alex Rios have all been doing all that they can to keep the offense’s head bobbing above water during the team’s recent funk. It hasn’t been enough. But they have to keep it up for just seven games longer.

Jurickson Profar, Jim Adduci, and Joey Butler have shown that they’re not ready, or not talented enough to be productive big leaguers yet. But for seven games, one or two or all of them can and need to provide a spark. If it’s in there, it’s time to show it.

As a team, the Rangers are hitting .249/.323/.369 (692 OPS) with runners in scoring position this season. In September, they have a .212 batting average with runners in scoring position. For seven games, as a unit, they have to be better at capitalizing on opportunities.

In the team’s five September victories, they have hit ten home runs. In their fifteen losses, they have hit seven home runs. For seven games, they need to hit more dingers.

If all of this is sounding far-fetched, and too slim of a possibility, that’s because it is. But this is what the Rangers are faced with over their last seven games to ensure they even have a shot at postseason play.

I didn’t even touch on the pitching, because frankly the pitching has been doing its job. The offense hasn’t been complementary, and it needs to be.

Texas is chasing Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Tampa Bay’s season ends with one more at home against Baltimore, and then three at New York, and three at Toronto. The Rays are 30-19 against those three teams this year. Cleveland plays two at home against the White Sox, and finishes with four at Minnesota. The Indians are 24-8 against those teams this year.

The Rangers close out the season with three against the Astros and four against the Angels, all at home. Texas is 25-6 against those two teams this season. Unfortunately, the Angels are 14-6 in the month of September, the third-best record in all of baseball, and they would certainly love to play the spoilers.

There aren’t any silver linings here. The first 155 games have told us that Texas isn’t the best team in baseball this year, and isn’t even in the top five in the American League. The team will be hard-pressed over the final seven games to change that perception.

At this point, we’re rooting for a small sample fluke. That’s what the final week of the regular season is, and that is what the playoffs can be too. The Rangers had streaks of 23-7, 12-4, and 10-3 this season. Those streaks required some blend of extraordinary effort by key players, good timing, and luck. They need just one more streak of playing better than they are.

The Rangers aren’t the best team in baseball, but they need to be the best team on the field every day. That starts with Derek Holland vs. the Houston Astros. That starts today.

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM
Peter Ellwood

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