The first opponent the Rangers have to face this post-season is history. No, it’s not as intimidating as the double barrel of history the Chicago Cubs are looking down. But history is still loaded and pointed right at them, nonetheless.
Every Rangers fan, of course, knows what happened last year. And this series, no matter what anyone on the Rangers says, is vindication for blowing a 2-0 lead last year.
Every Rangers fans also knows how 2011 finished, and 2010, and 1999, 1998, 1996.
The history the Rangers are up against, though, is their first-round futility at home.
For all the clamoring to get home field advantage, historically the home field has been anything but advantageous in the first round of the playoffs for Texas.
The Rangers are 1-9 at home in Division Series games, over six series.
They lost two out of two at home against the Yankees in 1996. They lost the only home games they had in both 1998 and 1999, also against the Yankees. They were 0-2 at home in 2010 against Tampa Bay, and 1-1 in 2011, also against Tampa Bay. Last year they were 0-2 against Toronto.
Once they get past their opening round jitters, they’re 5-1 in the Ballpark in Championship Series games.
But first they have to get there.
If pitching wins in the post-season, the Blue Jays hold the advantage. They have the American League ERA leader in Aaron Sanchez (3.00) and three of the top eleven with J. A. Happ (3.18) and Marco Estrado (3.48). They have one of only two twenty-game winners in the A.L.—Happ had twenty.
But every metric said the Rangers shouldn’t be where they are. Every metric said they should never have won 96 games. And every metric said the Rangers should never have won the West. And every metric said the Rangers had no business being in the post-season.
The Rangers don’t play sabermetric ball that well. They’re pretty good at playing baseball, though.
They’ve been thumbing their noses at the numbers all season long. Now all they have to do is thumb their noses at history today and tomorrow.
Here’s the playoff bracket. Make your predictions on how it will play out.
Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48) vs. Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32)
Game time: 3:38