Rangers at 80: A Look Back

**ORIGINAL POSTED DATE 9/05/12**

On September 4th, 2010, the Texas Rangers had a record of 75-60 as they were on their way to a 90-72 record and their first ever trip to the World Series. On September 4th, 2011, the Texas Rangers had a record of 80-61 on their way to a 96-66 record and a second straight World Series. On September 3rd, 2012 the Texas Rangers won game number eighty and have a record of 80-54 which is the best mark in franchise history after 134 games. Although this team has had its share of struggles, including a horrible month of July and an almost endless slump for Josh Hamilton, they continue to amaze and impress fans everywhere with new ones joining the bandwagon every day.

When you look at what has happened then you’ll understand why I used the word amazed. From virtually every pitcher on the roster being injured to the season-ending losses of Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to the Jekyll and Hyde performances from Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt you would have to wonder just how they’re doing it. Then you take into account the two-month slump of Josh Hamilton, the month-long slide of Adrian Beltre and the worst year in the career of Michael Young and it still makes you think. And, no, I’m not going to talk about Mike Napoli “struggling” due to the fact that this is a typical year for him.

So just what exactly is it? How are they managing to do this? It’s because they are playing as a “team” and they are having fun doing it. When Josh slumped the whole team slumped. The Rangers have a symbiotic offense. It’s a unity like I have never seen before. When Hamilton turned things around everybody came alive. Even Adrian Beltre re-emerged with a furious vengeance, treating his baseball bat as if it were Thor’s hammer.

Then you have to look at Matt Harrison who has been the best pitcher for the team so far this season. Factor in Ryan Dempster getting comfortable with the American League and the considered improvement with Yu Darvish the past month and you can see why Texas continues to win. Not to mention one of the best bullpens in baseball anchored by the virtually impenetrable trio of Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan. It’s the bullpen version of Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Finally there’s the skipper. People either love or they hate manager Ron Washington. Even though he has guided this team to two World Series he still has his detractors. They’ll quickly throw out their theory that anybody could have managed this team to two straight (and an eventual third) playoff appearances. But is that so? Yes, you can question his lineups and his unending need to stick with Michael Young but he is a player’s manager and he brings an electric, almost contagious attitude to the clubhouse. He loves his guys and it’s obvious they love him. He is the glue that holds the whole thing together.

Now the Rangers have twenty-eight games remaining. If they go 17-11 then they’ll finish with a team record 97 wins. 20-8 and they’ll have 100 wins. I’m not going to say that 100 wins is impossible but I believe it to be improbable. I’m looking for 95-97 wins. But who knows, after 90 wins I may write another piece and change my prediction.

Hopefully that will be next week. 

James Holland is a Senior Columnist for Shut Down Inning. He can be reached at James.Holland@shutdowninning.com or @SDIJamesHolland on Twitter.
James Holland

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