Earlier when I was perusing ESPN.com, I came across David Schoenfield's rankings of the top-30 teams in MLB heading into 2015. Naturally, since it's broken down in sixes, accordingly, the first section I clicked on was #25-30, where the Rangers were conveniently located:
25. Texas Rangers, 72-90
Seeing that, my gut reaction was divided. On the one hand, it didn't at all surprise me, because the Rangers are coming off a very bad 2014 season and it's evidently left a sour taste in everyone's mouth. That, however, is compounded by the fact that computer projections like PECOTA and ZiPS are saying roughly the same thing, and computers don't have salivary glands. At best the Rangers have been projected to be around a .500 baseball team this year; at worst, Schoenfield expects the Rangers to produce five additional wins coming off an injury-plagued 67-win campaign.
That's the reason, when I saw this list, the other half of me found it silly. Biases aside, and without looking at the projections, it just seems counterintuitive to expect a team who used "a mind-numbing 64 players in 2014," as Schoenfield cites, to generate only five extra wins.
I'm not saying the Rangers deserve to be considered a pennant contender heading into the Opening Day, but at the minimum they are entitled some benefit of the doubt. Even in spite of the enormity of question marks, this team is closer to a division title than a .444 (72-90) winning percentage.
And the truth is: that still isn't saying very much. The West has been a dominant division over the last five years, but those days are done. The Angels have questions at the top of its rotation. Oakland is a transitioning question mark. That means Seattle may finally win its elusive AL West crown strictly from being the best of an average bunch. The Rangers are part of that bunch.
It doesn't exactly ramp up the anticipation for the new baseball year, but it beats the alternative of more dominant teams. I'm not a fortune teller, but I wouldn't be surprised if Texas's record against divisional foes will dictate their placement in the final standings. (Anecdotal tidbit: in 2014 they went 33-43 against the West and finished last.) Anyway, I feel like I've basically been writing the same article over and over for the last five months.
Hey baseball, come back, please.