- The Texas Rangers have surpassed early expectations after finishing dead last in the AL West a season ago
- The Rangers are presently second in the division behind the Astros
- Texas’ starting rotation has been buoyed by Mike Minor, who is 5-4 with a sparkling 2.24 ERA
No Joey Gallo? No problem. The Texas Rangers have seen their AL Pennant odds improve from +5500 on May 22nd to +4200 on June 3rd despite losing their star slugger to a left oblique strain.
Gallo was hitting a career-high .276 with 17 home runs and 41 RBI prior to his injury and was among the early favorites to win the 2019 AL MVP Award. It’s uncertain when the 25-year-old masher will be back in the lineup, but the Rangers haven’t missed him yet as evidenced by their vastly improved odds.
2019 American League Pennant Odds
|2019 AL Pennant Odds
|New York Yankees
|Tampa Bay Rays
|Boston Red Sox
|Los Angeles Angels
|Chicago White Sox
|Toronto Blue Jays
|Kansas City Royals
All odds taken 06/05/19
Rangers Began the Season as +15000 Longshots
Oddsmakers didn’t expect much from the Rangers heading into the 2019 season, saddling them with distant +15000 odds to win the AL Pennant back on March 25th. Those odds may seem suspect now, but they weren’t outrageous at the time considering Texas was coming off a disastrous season in which they won just 67 games and finished 36 games back of the division-leading Astros in the AL West.
Texas was coming off a disastrous season in which they won just 67 games and finished 36 games back of the division-leading Astros in the AL West.
The Rangers further diminished expectations over the winter by shelling out just $53 million in free agency on underwhelming journeymen like Asdrubal Cabrera, Lance Lynn, and Jeff Mathis. GM Jon Daniels did little to address the club’s most glaring needs and the few moves he did make seemed peripheral at best.
Rangers Have Risen to Second in the AL West
Surprisingly Texas’s quiet offseason doesn’t appear to have hampered the franchise. The Rangers have already cobbled together a pair of four-game mini winning streaks and are now in second place in the AL West after winning back-to-back series against the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. They may not share the same rarefied air as the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, but they’re also not the dumpster fire that many expected heading into the season.
Quality Pitching Has Buoyed the Rangers
One of the keys to the Rangers’ resurgence has been quality pitching. Texas ranks fifth in walks, sixth in runs, and seventh in earned runs among all Major League teams. The club’s pitchers aren’t beating themselves, which is something few could have predicted before the year began.
Leading the charge has been Mike Minor, who is 5-4 with a sparkling 2.24 ERA. The 31-year-old southpaw has struck out 80 in just over 75 innings and appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder issues that cost him his 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Mike Minor’s 11Ks (6 innings) in 20 seconds. pic.twitter.com/qyq9huvHtG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2019
The Rangers have also gotten an unexpected boost from right-hander Ariel Jurado, who is 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 12 appearances. Jurado began the season as a long reliever, but appears to have found a permanent spot in Chris Woodward’s starting rotation. He looked solid on May 31st against the Royals, scattering five hits in six innings.
Even Lance Lynn has had his moments. Now on his fourth team in three years, the well-traveled Lynn is 7-4 with a 4.50 ERA. He’s unlikely to make another All-Star team at this point in his career, but he’s a solid innings eater who still has a few bullets left in the chamber.
Lance Lynn showing shades of ’08 with the 96 CHEE pic.twitter.com/Oft4nJGZRb
— Robby Rowland (@RobbyRow_12) May 11, 2019
Rangers Have Been a Top 5 Slugging Team
Much of the heavy lifting on offense has been done by Gallo, who leads the Rangers in home runs, walks, and strikeouts despite being sidelined since June 1st. Fortunately Texas has several players capable of picking up the slack, including outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and designated hitter Hunter Pence, both of whom have pounded 11 homers. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has also been a steady presence in the line-up. The two-time All-Star is batting .298 and has already equaled his home run mark from last season’s injury-shortened campaign.
Career HR No. 200 for Shin-Soo Choo ?
— SportsDay Rangers (@dmn_rangers) June 5, 2019
Those three players, along with Gallo, are a big reason why the Rangers rank in the top five in slugging percentage, OPS, and RBIs.
Fear the Yankees
The Rangers have been one of baseball’s feel-good stories this season, but they’re far more likely to be sellers at the trade deadline than buyers. Expect their record to slip well below .500 in July as the AL’s top contenders gleefully pick apart their roster.
the last time the yankees injury report was this lengthy was valley forge
— Satt ? Mussman (@suss2hyphens) April 16, 2019
If you’re looking for a safer bet to win the AL Pennant, we recommend the Yankees, who have miraculously ascended to the top of the AL East despite placing 17 players on the IL this season. New York’s ragtag line-up has already reeled off two six-game win streaks and is tied for the fourth best run differential in the Majors. Just imagine how much more potent they’ll be in September when Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Greg Bird are sending balls into the cheap seats and Luis Severino is mowing down opposing batters.