If you told me before Texas's longest road trip of the 2015 season that they would play .500 baseball, most Ranger fans would have been okay with that. Losing the final two in shutout fashion to the Mariners wasn't the ideal finish we were all hoping for, but it doesn't materially change the position the Rangers are in.
In the AL West, Houston (76-64) now leads the Rangers by 2.5 games -- 2 in the loss column -- while the Twins (72-67) and Angels (70-69) trail Texas by 1 and 3 games, respectively.
Back in February, in response to David Schoenfield ranking Texas 25th-best in MLB, projecting them a 72-90 record (that the Rangers have already surpassed), I wrote:
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.