No longer is it a question of whether this Rangers team is a contender. It is.
It isn’t contending for a division crown. It isn’t contending for the first wild card spot. But it is contending for the second wild card spot. In fact, it’s in the driver’s seat.
The second wild card seems like it’s shaping up to be a four-team race. Oakland, Texas, Cleveland, Boston.
The Rangers were not expecting to contend this year. The plan was to trade away every marketable asset for young pitching. That might be scrapped now.
But will it be a good thing?
Assuming the Rangers are able to keep up this amazing transformation, is the chance at a possible one-game shootout worth losing out on the opportunity to strengthen the team long-term?
Since MLB started the two-wild-card format in 2013, only three of the seven second-wild-card teams won the wild card game. And those three teams were immediately bounced from the playoffs in the next round.
So, do you forsake the chance to improve for years to come in order to have a chance at one extra game?
Too many things can go wrong to assume you have a chance in the future. Grab the opportunity while you can.
This franchise had mojo, and threw it away. This franchise had fans, and drove them off.
Winning brings it back.
Winning breads winning.
If this team has the chance to do something special, they owe it to their fans to go for it.
But more important, they owe it to their players. How can guys play their hearts out for three months only to watch the rug be pulled out from under them?
You’ve waited all this time for Joey Gallo to show up. Do you tell him, sorry, you arrived too soon? Can you honestly look Hunter Pence in the eyes and say, “Thanks for transforming this franchise but it wasn’t necessary”?
Whether they have a legitimate shot at that extra game or not, this team needs another quality starting pitcher. Why not find one sooner rather than later?
If the window is open, take advantage of it. You never know how long it’s going to stay open or if it will be open in the future. Injuries, underperforming, and just the quirks of baseball have a way of rearing their ugly heads. (Look no further than Boston this year. That window may be shutting soon.)
Make no mistake, the Rangers are contenders. Will it last? Who knows?
For now, let’s watch some fun baseball. It’s been a while.