This is my second annual “What Success Looks Like,” in which I look at the records of all the American League teams in the Jon Daniels Era—the ten years from 2006 to 2015—to compare how the Rangers fared against the rest of the league.
Since Jon Daniels became the general manager of Texas, the Rangers have the fifth-best winning percentage in the AL, and the second-best in the AL West, which for the most part held only four teams.
Which means, the Rangers are in the upper third in terms of league success, and in the upper half in terms of division success.
Jon Daniels is now the winningest GM in Rangers history, with a .521 winning percentage compared to Doug Melvin’s .509 in seven seasons, from 1995 to 2001. Melvin, like Daniels, created three division crown winners. Melvin, like Daniels, created two last place finishers.
To handicap his tenure, though, Melvin was forced to take on the Alex Rodriguez cancer, which did him in. Daniels’s shortstop wounds are self-inflicted, and don’t look to be healing any time soon.
As far as division crowns go, in the West in the Jon Daniels Era, Los Angeles has won four, Oakland and Texas three apiece. None for Seattle. Houston hasn’t won in its three years in the West.
Over all in the AL, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York have four division crowns; Minnesota, Oakland, and Texas have three.
But Texas has finished in first or second in the West in seven of its last eight seasons. That is the best of the major Dallas pro sports teams in that time.
In the last eight seasons, the Cowboys have finished second or better just three times (in a four-team division); the Mavericks two times; the Stars zero.
The Rangers have been, by far, the most successful Dallas team over the Jon Daniels era. Yet they had to give away tickets for ten dollars in the thick of the pennant race in September last year, and the Ballpark was still as empty as a Kardashian brain.
That one losing season of 2014 killed the Rangers hometown mojo. Their attendance dropped to its lowest level since 2009.
North Texas has a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately relationship with any sport other than football. Yet the Rangers have been far and away the most successful Dallas-Fort Worth-area sports franchise in the last ten years. Yet they still struggle for local respectability.
The best way to change that is to win early in 2016. Come out of the gate on fire. Get the city talking about them again.
So, back to the original premise. How have the Rangers done in the Jon Daniels era?
Let’s define success in the black and white terms of: did you get to the division series? If you make it to the first round of the playoffs, you had a successful season. If you didn’t, you didn’t. Simple as that.
In ten seasons, Jon Daniels’ teams have made the Division Series three times. That’s a .333 average. Not bad. In fact, it’s tied for fifth best in the American League behind the Yankees (six), Tigers (five), Angels (four), and Red Sox (four). The Rangers, Athletics, and Twins have three division series appearances apiece.
Texas is one of four American League teams to make the World Series twice in the Jon Daniels era along with Boston, Detroit, and Kansas City. Tampa Bay and New York each made it one time. The other nine American League teams have not been to the World Series in the past ten years.
All in all, the Rangers in the Jon Daniels era are in the middle of their division, upper third in the league in winning percentage, and about that same place in terms of division wins.
That’s a solid B-minus.