On Thursday night the Rangers finished an improbable run into the postseason with a 5-3 victory over their division rivals the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Of all the teams who have clinched a playoff spot so far this season, the Texas Rangers may be the biggest surprise of all. Prior to Spring training, many around the game of baseball picked the Texas Rangers as the obvious last place team in the American League West. With the Astros and Angels fighting for positioning atop the division, the Rangers made a late second half run over the last two months to secure their first playoff appearance since 2011.
For some perspective on the Rangers season, their month to month win-loss record tells the whole story. On May 1, the Rangers sat at 7-15, already 8.5 games out of the division lead. On June 1, the Rangers had bounced back for a record of 26-25, but they were still 5.5 games out of the division lead. On July 1, the Rangers had a record of 40-39, still six games out of the division lead. Following the trade deadline, at which time they acquired Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies, on August 1st the Rangers had a record of 50-53 and found themselves eight games out of the lead.
August was the month that the Rangers really turned their season around. On September 1, following a 19-9 month of August, the Rangers had a record of 69-62 and were only three games behind the Houston Astros in the American League West. Finally here we are on October 2, and the Texas Rangers have a record of 87-72, the best record in the AL West by a three game margin over the Astros, who were in control of the division for most of the season.
What this month by month win-loss record evaluation shows us is that the Rangers, perhaps more than any other team save for the Toronto Blue Jays, really stuck with it all season long and eventually were rewarded for their persistence. The Rangers turned it on and played well when they needed to and simply took the division away from the Astros and Angels over the last two months of the season.
For the Rangers all that is left is winning one more game and clinching their first division title since 2011. If the Rangers do win the division they will have a first round matchup against either the Kansas City Royals or the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers will continue to be looked at as underdogs in either of these matchups regardless of their improbable run. However, if the Rangers continue to play as they have been over the last two months of the season, they realistically could beat anyone come October. The Rangers, who many tabbed for a last place finish when the season began, are in the playoffs once again, and are a force to be reckoned with.