Those are the winning percentages of the last four teams the Rangers have played, which explains why they’ve gone 7-2 and gotten over the .400 mark themselves. It’s not because, as Michael Young said, “It’s nice to be playing better baseball, that’s for sure. We’re just doing a better job top to bottom.” Really, they’re doing the same things they’ve been doing all along, it’s just that they hit a stretch where they played a bunch of teams from the worst division in baseball, the NL Central. As proof, we will watch them starting on Monday against Detroit (.603), Boston (.644) and the Angels (.640), the three best teams in baseball. In those eleven games, I’m guessing the Rangers will go about 3-8, winning once each series, and once again everyone will be saying how bad the team is.
If you don’t follow the ESPN Power Rankings, which ranks all the teams each week, then you don’t know that the Rangers jumped to number 28 (out of 30, of course) this week, a huge leap considering they’ve been dead last for the last five weeks. Apparently the ESPN guys haven’t noticed their weak schedule the past week either. What’s interesting about the rankings is how the Rangers have fared, starting out at 20 (based on pre-season expectations), then quickly falling to 28 by week four, which is the highest they’ve been in the last nine weeks. At least the people voting know how bad the Rangers are. Oh, and back to the previous paragraph, the four teams they beat this past week are ranked 16, 21, 22 and 30 (Reds). The three we’re about to play are ranked 1, 2 and 3. Uh-oh.
Now, having said that, things have improved, even if just by smoke and mirrors. On tv yesterday they said the Rangers are ahead of last season’s attendance, which certainly surprises me. I haven’t run any numbers at all, but I’d guess appearances by the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs have boosted things a bit. And I seem to recall that I’ve read various studies which show that attendance tracks more on last year’s record than this years, which suggests the Rangers are due to tank in attendance next year. Having said that, I think we will be attending more games next year, now that we’ve determined that Josh can handle going to games. Before he was born we had the partial season tickets, the 15 game version. Once he was born we gave them up, knowing we’d never attend that many games with him. Last year we only got to about three games, and left at least one of them early. On Opening Day this year, he was so much better it was like night and day. I think by next year we may be talking those partial tickets again, although we’ll have to go to cheaper seats, since we’ll be buying tickets for three instead of two.
CJ Wilson was excellent today, banging three strikes by Mike Lamb with two on and two out in the 7th, and the Astros down by one. I would call that the swing point of the game, although FanGraphs hasn’t posted the data yet to be able to tell. I can tell you that in that situation, the Rangers had a .749 chance of winning, but that rose to .822 after the strikeout. 73 points of Win Expectancy is pretty darn good when you only threw three pitches. I would also say what I said a couple of days ago, that CJ will be our closer one day.
So the Rangers end up with the Silver Boot this year, yet another highlight to be added to our proud list of achievements. I’m sure they were all drinking champagne out of it tonight, knowing that it was a job well done. I wonder if they made t-shirts?