The Rangers are in the wrong division.
With last night’s 5-4 extra-inning loss to Houston, in a game the Rangers led 4-0, the Rangers are now 38-49, eleven games under .500.
They are 14-26 against the American League West: 4-12 against the Astros, 1-5 against the Angels, 4-5 against the Mariners and 5-4 against the Athletics.
Which means they are 24-23 against the rest of baseball.
But that’s the way the baseball crumbles. In 2013 the Rangers won 91 games, finished second in the West, tied the Rays, and had to play a one-game tie breaker to see who went to the post-season as the wild card. (The Rangers lost.)
But the Rangers fancied themselves as a 91-win team. They weren’t, really.
That year they were 17-2 against the Astros and 15-4 against the Angels. Meaning, they were 59-65 against the rest of baseball. They weren’t nearly as good as their record indicated. They just happened to be in the right divison.
Maybe this version of the Rangers isn’t nearly as bad as their record indicates. Sure, it’s not a playoff-caliber team by any stretch of the imagination. But get them outside their division and they are competitive.
If the Rangers were in the A. L. Central, they’d be in second place. A distant second, with no shot at the postseason. But second is better than last no matter how bad you are. Other than Cleveland, every team in the Central is under .500 and worse than the Rangers. The Tigers by only a hair, both teams having won just 38 games. The Ranger have one fewer loss. (This upcoming epic four-game battle will answer it all.)
Another way to look at it is this: The American League is really two tiers. The haves and the have-nots.
The haves are the five teams that have pretty much already locked up a playoff spot: Houston, New York, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle. (The first three are elite, the other two pretty good.)
Then you have the have nots: Oakland, who is good but not quite there yet, and the eight bottom feeders.
Against the five playoff teams, the Rangers are 14-24. Against the rest of the American League, they are 20-21. (They’re 4-4 against the National League.)
That tells you everything you need to know about this team. Mile to go to be elite. Right there among the middle of the bad.
Five years ago, they took full advantage of being in the right division at the right time. This year, the tables have turned.
Like Mark Knopfler sang, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”
In 2018, the Rangers are the bug.
Yovani Gallardo (2-0, 9.00) vs. Matthew Boyd (4-6 4.18)
Game time: 6:10