Have The Angels Passed The Rangers In A.L. West?

ANAHEIM CA: Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers reacts after striking out with a runner on second to end the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium in Anaheim California. The Angels won 2-0. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Since the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, things just haven't been going well for the Texas Rangers.

Before that, it was all rainbows and unicorns and helpful leprechauns. But since Game 6 went so terribly wrong, the Rangers have gone from almost World Champions to (now) second place in the American League West.

Oh, it's not official yet. It's highly unofficial. But the Rangers just lost their best starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson ... who joined the Orange County Angels, last season's second-place team. Oh, and those Angels also addressed a major weakness by signing the second-greatest first baseman in major-league history. That's all.


StoryStream: Albert Pujols Signs Huge Contract With Angels

Let's just work through the basic math, though. Maybe this isn't as serious as we think.

According to their run differential, the Angels were fundamentally an 85-win team last season; the Rangers were a 98-win team.

That's a considerable difference, 13 wins.

We may assume that Pujols will be getting a lot of the plate appearances that went to Mark Trumbo last season (notwithstanding the Angels' suggestion that Trumbo will still play a lot; he seem like a great trade candidate at this point). Pujols figures to be roughly five wins better than Trumbo was last season.

Similarly, C.J. Wilson's innings figure to represent (roughly) a five-game improvement over whoever's innings he replaces (probably Joel Pineiro).

On December 8, 2011 -- and considering nobody else on the roster, of course -- the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim improved their lot by 10 wins. Which still leaves them three wins short of the Rangers.

But wait, Rangers fans; it gets better! There's been a fair amount of talk about Neftali Felíz shifting from the bullpen back to the rotation, where he thrived as a minor leaguer. Feliz isn't likely to duplicate (let alone better) Wilson's performance last season, but he seems a pretty decent bet to soften the blow.

So let's say the Rangers lost three wins with the loss of Wilson. That still leaves them with 95 ... roughly the same as the Angels.

Of course, this is beyond back-of-the-envelope math. This is back-of-the-cocktail-napkin-in-a-drunken-stupor guesstimating. The Rangers probably overachieved some last season, and the Angels probably underachieved some. Still, there was a large gap between them and it's difficult to make up that gap with two players, even two players like Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

It's just too early to write the Rangers' epitaph. They're considered contenders for Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish, they're widely known to be interested in trading for Matt Garza, and Peter Gammons thinks they might be in the hunt for Prince Fielder. At this moment the Rangers are the second-best team in the American League.

This is a meaningful moment. An exciting moment. But it's just a moment, and there will be many more moments. Let's check back next March. And September.

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