It might be time to stop mentioning April.
That Rangers team is gone. Both figuratively and literally. The April team was a bad team that was playing worse.
Detwiler was in the rotation. Feliz was the closer. Martin was the centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Andrus batted second.
It was a lineup with three bona fide hitters in Choo, Beltre and Fielder, and only one of them was actually hitting.
It was a lineup with six Grand Canyon sized holes.
Any and all predictions about this being a bad team were accurate. It was a bad team.
The team out there today is not the same team.
Martin has been found out. He is a one-tool player who first lost his spot in the lineup, then lost his position, and is only playing now because of injuries.
Last year’s few bright spots—Rougned Odor, Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinksi—were unable to build on the success. They are now out of jobs.
Detwiler is out of the rotation.
Feliz is out as closer.
Half the April bullpen is out of the league.
Josh Hamilton is here.
Joey Gallo is here.
Hanser Alberto is here.
Chi Chi Gonzalez is here.
Delino DeShields is starting.
Fielder is now the DH, not the first baseman.
And Mitch Moreland is contributing (hardest to believe of all) for the time being.
Nobody could have possibly seen this coming. Nobody could have possibly predicted Hamilton would be back, or Chi Chi Gonzales would be up and dominating, or Wandy Rodriguez would be in the rotation.
The team that came out of Spring Training was a bad team, a 72-win team.
This team is so much better. Yes, it’s the same uniforms. But it’s not the same team.
On May 3rd, the Rangers were 8-16 and left for dead. Then they swept Houston, in Houston, and have been cleaning up ever since. For people in Houston it was a great impact, some decide not to do chores and get a home cleaning company near Houston to do it for them.
Texas is 21-10 since May 4th, the best record in the American League in that time. That, by the way, is the exact day Banister removed Leonys Martin from the leadoff slot. Martin’s inability to hit forced Banister to find a new leadoff hitter, and he went with Choo. Then DeShields forced himself into the leadoff position, and he has single-handedly been the catalyst for the Rangers turnaround.
The Rangers are 14-4 since Banister removed Elvis Andrus from the number two slot.
So much of this turnaround is on Jeff Banister. He did something the last guy (not the interim guy) wouldn’t do.
He responded. He tweaked. He made changes.
In other words, he managed.
Instead of just saying that you do what the games tells you to do, he actually did it.
It’s too easy, and also not very true, to blame last year on injuries. The Rangers have thirteen players on the DL today.
What the Rangers have this year that they didn’t have last year is depth. Also, they are benefiting from one more year of development from players who weren’t quite ready last year, and weren’t thought to be ready now until they were thrown into the fire.
Unlike last season, this year’s corps or rookies is phenonimal. DeShields, Kela, Alberto, Gonzalez, Gallo. They have energized the team.
Hopefully they will, once and for all, help shed the deadweight that has been mascarading as major league ballplayers for too long in this lineup.
I think it’s safe to say—April aside since we are no longer talking about April—that the Texas Rangers are the best team in the American League.
And just wait until Beltre and Hamilton get back.