This year's Red Sox team might be their best since the days of Ted Williams. They've got a .611 winning percentage right now, which would be the franchise's highest since 1949. And if that's true, what does that say about the Yankees, who are a half-game ahead of the best Red Sox team in over sixty years? Probably that the Yankees are good. You read it here first. Actually, that's probably how a lot of folks see the AL.
Good teams in the American League
Part of that is because the Yankees and Red Sox really are good. It also probably has something to do with people on the east coast going to bed at noon Pacific time, drunk on both a) the power of controlling the media, and b) several martinis, so they rarely watch the other teams in baseball. The Yankees and Red Sox are exceptional baseball teams, but they're just part of a big three in the American League. The Rangers are right up there, too.
Madness, I know. According to Baseball-Reference, the Rangers don't have Dustin Pedroia or Curtis Granderson. The team flies completely under the radar, rarely appearing on a national stage, save for that little-watched reality show that FOX broadcast last late October. But the Rangers might have the most complete team in baseball. I know that Bud Selig doesn't hand out a special ribbon for that, but if you think of baseball as being made up of three distinct parts -- hitting, starting pitching, bullpen -- Texas might not have the best in any single category, but they're near the top in all three.
And over the past two months, the Rangers have been the one of the best teams in baseball, going 30-16 since July 1st with an obscene 271/175 ratio of runs scored/runs allowed. They've been winning and winning big. Of course, as long as we're playing around with arbitrary end points, the Red Sox during that time have gone 31-15. As good as the Rangers have been, they just can't shake the popular conception that the class of the American League is atop the AL East, mostly because those two teams are really freaking good. So are the Rangers, though.
Here, then, is the Rangers' chance: a four-game series against Boston at home. It's still a small sample -- it's not like four games is ever going to convince the world of anything -- but this is the focus of the baseball world for the next week, with two playoff-bound teams beating each other over the head in a possible postseason preview. And while it's nothing like a make-or-break series for the Rangers, who hold a four-game lead over the Angels, it's the start of a particularly brutal stretch: of the remaining 34 games on the Rangers' docket, only 12 of them aren't against teams who are still actively competing for a playoff spot.
It starts with Boston coming into town, all haughty and arrogant as if they're an elite team. Which they kind of are. It's not exactly a secret. But the Rangers are a surprisingly elite team too, and now it's up to them to prove it over the next month or so. Though if they don't, they can keep getting fat off the carcasses of the A's and Mariners, which they've been good at this year. That'll be enough to fool us until playoff time, at least.