How the Rangers are doing it.

The Rangers secret weapon.

Yesterday, on another site (yes, surprisingly, there is another Rangers site but you don’t want to go there), someone asked how it was possible that a team that has six starters on the I.L. and seems to go into prolonged offensive funks is in first place.

At first blush, you’d think the rotation and bullpen are carrying this team. But that not the case, at least not statistically.

At nearly the quarter point of the season, the Rangers have the seventh-best starting rotation ERA in the American League, and the eleventh-best bullpen ERA.

But the real surprise is, the Rangers have scored the most runs of any American League team, eleven more than the Yankees and Orioles. They have the most hits, too. Even more surprising is the Astros are second. Both are tied for the American League lead in batting average at .258.

So much for the anemic offense. Sometime, these things just make no sense.

But maybe the reason the Rangers are in first, defying the odds, when they seem to be struggling, is in the dugout. The manager.

In the ninth inning of a game the Rangers were trying to blow, when they saw a five-run lead dwindle down to one, they cut to the Rangers bullpen after one particularly frustrating moment, and Bruce Bochy was sitting on the bench, legs folded, as if in the middle of a meaningless spring training game (yes, that’s redundant). He picked up a water bottle in frustration, about to toss it. He stopped, looked at it, realized the bottle didn’t just give up five straight hits, and set down the water bottle casually next to him, then watched Kirby Yates finally shut down the rally.

It was one small moment is a series of smaller moments. 

The Astros are in last place, eleven games under .500, eight games behind the Rangers. It could be that their ERA is dead last in the American League even though their offense is at the top. Or, it could be they chased Dusty Baker into retirement and brought in a manager with zero managing experience. Their Chris Woodward.

Maybe the manager matters. Maybe the real M.V.P. of the Rangers isn’t on the field but in the dugout.