Since 1995, thirty-eight teams have had a lead at the All-Star break of at least five games. How many of those thirty-eight teams went on to win their division?
No, sorry, I read that wrong.
Thirty-five of the thirty-eight teams that have been in the position the Rangers are in right now have gone on to win their division.
Contrary to popular belief, last year’s Houston Astros were not one of those teams.
At the All-Star break last year, the Angels were in first, one-half game in front of the Astros, who were five and a half games ahead the Rangers.
We think of the Astros as having a major collapse last year, and they did, but Los Anaheim out-imploded Houston.
In fact, if you look at the American League standings this time last year, you will see the first half ended much differently than the last half, which is the only half that matters:
In the East, Toronto stormed back from fourth place to overtake the Yankees. And, of course, in the West, Texas shot up from third.
Interestingly, five of the six division races this season have leads of five games or more: Texas by 5.5, Cleveland by 6.5, Washington by 6, Chicago by 7, and San Francisco by 6.5.
History suggests there won’t be a whole lot of drama in the second half.
So, while the Huge Stumble at the end of the first half brought the Astros back onto the West radar, barring something monumentally historically horrible that has only happened three times ever in the last twenty-one years, the Rangers should be okay.
Then again, no other team in that time that has enjoyed a lead of at least five games at the break has had to rely on the pitching depth of the Texas Rangers farm system.
Strap yourself in.