What To Expect When You’re Expecting

Webster’s dictionary gives the following definition for ‘expectations’: a.) a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future, b.) a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

2014 had so many injuries, Globe Life Park could have been turned into an Urgent Care Facility. A season in which the Rangers led the league in players on the disabled list, most games and most money lost to the DL. It was a season to forget.

2015 rolled around and there were a few folks who believed the Rangers could probably compete, but not necessarily for a playoff spot. They thought the team could finish around .500 or even post an 85 win season and barely miss out on the postseason.

Then Yu Darvish happened. Rougned Odor and Shin Soo Choo forgot how to play baseball for two months, Elvis Andrus had no motivation, Josh Hamilton‘s body is giving up on him, Leonys Martin (remember him?) couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, and Adrian Beltre‘s thumb betrayed him (it’s been rumored that Beltre has decided to sacrifice his thumb as punishment for the thumb betrayal). And again, the Rangers lead the league in days lost to the DL.

And here it is, a week left in the regular season and the Rangers are in first place in the AL West – with a rookie manager, a Rule 5 center-fielder, a 21-year-old second basemen who was optioned to the minors earlier in the year, a catcher playing left field, without their ace, and without their number two and three pitchers for 3/4 of the year.

It hasn’t been easy. It wasn’t expected. But there is something I’ve noticed among Rangers fans and even media folks alike.

They now are expecting the Rangers to win the AL West.

Folks, the AL West is far from over. Not only is Houston festering around like a pimple on prom night, but now Anaheim is photobombing the potential celebration.

It’s time to be Proactive, pop that pimple and then take care of the annoying photo-bombers.

Houston sits 2.5 games out and the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County Anaheim California sit just three games behind your Texas Rangers. Oh, and the Angels and Rangers play what has turned into a very big four game series at The Temple beginning Thursday Night.

So here is what you can expect when you’re expecting an AL West Crown.

Nothing. Don’t expect anything. Nothing is a given at this point. However, moving forward, here is what you need to know.

The magic numbers to clinch the AL West AND a postseason birth are both five. Five to eliminate Houston and five to eliminate the Angels.

Houston is out on the road on a season ending six game trip with stops in Seattle and Arizona. Houston has to end their season under National League rules in Arizona but the Festering Pimples are 14-3 vs the NL and 6-1 when their pitchers have to hit. The Padres, Rockies and even the Giants can all be considered some of the weaker NL teams so I’m not sure how much stock I’m putting into their interleague record. Let us not forget that Houston has the American League’s worst road record at 29-46. That is two games worse than the Oakland Athletics who have the worst overall record in the American League.

Anaheim finishes the season up with a three game set against Oakland at home and then four here in Texas. The Angels are a combined 19-12 vs Oakland and Texas including a 10-5 mark vs the Rangers. I believe we all, unfortunately, remember the July 4th Massacre?

This race is far from over.

Let’s assume the Rangers, Angels, and Astros all win two of three in their series’. That puts the Rangers magic number down to three vs both teams and keeps the AL West lead at 2.5 and three games respectively.

That means, in reality, that Anaheim would have to sweep the Rangers to gain the AL West crown OR the Angels would have to take three of four from Texas and the Astros would have to sweep Arizona in Arizona to overtake the AL West lead.

THAT however, would create a tie between the Rangers and Angels, forcing a one game playoff to be played in Anaheim for a Wild Card spot (assuming Minnesota doesn’t mess around and force themselves into the picture). With Cole Hamels having pitched the last game of the season already, you’d be looking at either Yovani Gallardo or Derek Holland throwing Game 163. That also means, in the event of a win, you’d have either Martin Perez or Colby Lewis throwing Game 1 of the ALDS on the road in either Toronto or Kansas City. Unless of course Jeff Banister wants to run Hamels out there on three days rest, which is highly unlikely.

Aside from the Rangers sweeping Detroit, that is the best case scenario. If the Rangers sweep Detroit, it doesn’t really matter what Houston or Anaheim does because the magic number at that point is two over both teams (assuming the Angels and Astros sweep as well). Then you head into the Angels series’ needing just one win over Anaheim to eliminate them and a Houston loss in Arizona at some point, and the Rangers can claim their sixth American League West division crown.

If the Rangers take two of three from Detroit, Houston and Anaheim lose two of three, the scenario enhances a little bit. That drops the magic number to one and at that point, any Rangers win would eliminate both the Astros and the Angels.

Now, if the Rangers lose two of three to the Tigers and both Anaheim and Houston win two of three, we have a problem. That makes the magic number three over both teams with a 1.5 game lead over Houston and a two game lead over Anaheim. In order to win the division at that point, the Rangers could, at worst, split the four games with Anaheim and Houston would have to sweep the three game set in Arizona.

That would create a tie for the AL West and the second AL Wild Card. That means the Rangers and Astros would play a Game 163 in Texas to determine the AL West winner and the WC winner. Again, not a good scenario for Texas.

The bottom line here is, Texas controls their own destiny and it’s going to take a 2012-esque collapse by the Rangers to lose the division, but it is definitely possible. Lose two of three to Detroit, and you can officially start to sweat.

The earliest clinch date now is Wednesday and it could happen with a Rangers win regardless of what Anaheim and Houston do later that night. If the Astros and Angels lose the first two games of their series, Texas would clinch on Wednesday with a sweep of Detroit. If the Astros and Angels win one of the first two games, it would have to happen with a Rangers sweep of Detroit, the Mariners taking two of three from the Astros AND the Athletics taking two of three from the Angels. Those games are on the West Coast so that means we wouldn’t know the outcome until around midnight central time.

Have I confused you yet? Because I think I’ve confused myself.

How about this, how about we sit back and enjoy the ride? As I heard one person say yesterday, the Rangers are playing with house money so anything that happens this year, is nothing but a bonus.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

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