After a home sweep at the hands of the division rival Angels, the Rangers are now 41-42, a modest record for a team that's had to overachieve to get it. In spite of a sub-.500 record, and a -17 run differential (which was slightly above the median line before being outscored 33-8 this past weekend), Texas is at least within striking distance of a playoff spot, 3 games out of the WC2.
With the unknowns surrounding the return of Matt Harrison, or whether Martin Perez and/or Derek Holland will be viable options over the next month, do the Rangers have enough to make a playoff run? More importantly, do the Rangers believe they have enough?
Per Baseball Prospectus, Texas's 3rd Order winning percentage (.462) ranks dead last in the American League West; FanGraphs's playoff odds give the Rangers a 2.6% chance of winning the division, and 4.9% to earn a wild card berth. (Even the Mariners, for example, are given 1:10 odds, twice as good as the Rangers.)
Basically, computers are not fans of Texas.
FanGraphs's general WAR standings say the same thing. Below is a rough list of how each team's offense in the AL West stacks up:
1. Houston -- +12.6 fWAR, .244/.311/.428 (106 wRC+)
2. Anaheim -- +10.7 fWAR, .248/.311/.390 (100 wRC+)
3. Oakland -- +9.6 fWAR, .260/.322/.397 (103 wRC+)
4. Texas -- +8.7 fWAR, .248/.314/.401 (93 wRC+)
5. Seattle -- +3.8 fWAR, .229/.290/.374 (87 wRC+)
The Rangers play in a particularly run-suppressive division, at least as far as ballparks are concerned. The difference in the top four offenses above is probably negligible overall, with the Mariners as the black sheep of the group. Their offense is just awful. Everyone else's in the West is about average.
Pitching WAR (FIP-wins):
1. Oakland -- +9.4 fWAR, 3.41 ERA (3.81 xFIP), 20.3 K%/7.4 BB%
2. Houston -- +9.3 fWAR, 3.59 ERA (3.62 xFIP), 20.8 K%/7.5 BB%
3. Anaheim -- +7.3 fWAR, 3.63 (3.92 xFIP), 19.7 K%/7.1 BB%
4. Seattle -- +6.5 fWAR, 3.76 ERA (3.87 xFIP), 20.5 K%/7.8 BB%
5. Texas -- +3.5 fWAR, 4.21 ERA (4.37 xFIP), 16.7 K%/8.2 BB%
Really, there are two ways of looking at this as a Rangers fan. The glass half-full version goes something like this: Texas is 7 games out of first place in its division, 3 back of a wild card spot, and Wandy Rodriguez, Nick Martinez, Ross Detwiler, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Anthony Ranaudo, and Phil Klein have accounted for 48 of the club's 83 starts in 2015. That somehow happened.
On the other hand, based on such good fortune, it's entirely possible that we've seen the best of this unit, that Matt Harrison doesn't have anything left in the tank, that Perez and Holland won't be back in time to matter, and that it might be a better idea to get a jump on the trade market and start selling pieces, as Ken Rosenthal mentioned today in an article.
At this point, the Rangers just need to survive until they get to the All Star Break. Tonight they square off against Arizona in the first of a brief two-game series in Arlington, with Yovani Gallardo on the hill.