TBOH MLB September Power Ranking
By Matt Veasey
2. TEXAS RANGERS
The Texas Rangers were the top team in the American League and the #2 team on my rankings as summer began, and now as summer draws to a close they remain in that exact same position.
Perhaps no team in baseball has gotten stronger on paper than the Rangers in recent weeks. The AL West leaders by 8.5 games have added one of the game’s all-time clutch performers, one of the game’s top catchers, an exciting outfielder, and a true ace starting pitcher to an already potent mix.
The clutch performer is veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Yankees. Beltran is in the final year of his latest contract, and possibly the final chapter of his 19-year MLB career.
At age 39, he can still produce, bringing 26 homers, 81 RBI, 66 runs scored, and a .296 average to the stretch drive with the Rangers.
The catcher is Jonathan Lucroy, another trade deadline acquisition, this from Milwaukee. The 30-year old Lucroy may be a rental, as he will become a free agent for the first time in the upcoming off-season.
However, he is also an All-Star, having reached the Midsummer Classic two of the last three seasons, including this year. He now hopes to reach the Fall Classic in the Lone Star State.
The exciting outfielder is 30-year old Carlos Gomez, perhaps one of the most unusual stories of this season in baseball.
A year ago, Gomez was a pivotal piece to the rise of the Houston Astros, the Rangers division rivals, to a postseason berth, and was an NL All-Star the previous two years in Milwaukee.
But this year, Gomez was awful. Hitting for just a .210/.272/.322 slash line, Houston released him just three weeks ago. He signed with Texas just two days later. Who knows what he will bring, but as an experienced, talented depth outfielder he was hard to pass up.
Those players join a team that already had a strong lineup featuring future Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre, a top Comeback Player of the Year candidate in center fielder Ian Desmond, and a trio of exciting youngsters in 2nd baseman Rougned Odor, outfielder Nomar Mazara, and versatile Jurickson Profar.
The ace starting pitcher is righty Yu Darvish, who finally returned after missing more than a season and a half following early 2015 Tommy John surgery.
Darvish joins Cole Hamels in giving the Rangers one of the top potential 1-2 rotation punches in the game, an enviable right-left combo.
For his part, Hamels was perhaps the leading AL Cy Young candidate until his two most recent outings. In those two starts, the former Phillies World Series MVP has lasted just six innings combined, allowing 13 earned runs on 14 hits with an 8/7 K:BB ratio. Troubling to say the least.
Darvish staying healthy, Hamels returning to form, and the performance of their rotation mates, lefties Derek Holland and Martin Perez and righty A.J. Griffin, will undoubtedly be the key to just how far Texas might go as October unfolds.
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