On May 1, the Rangers had a five percent chance of making the playoffs, according to MLB.com’s postseason probabilities – courtesy of Baseball Prospectus that indicate each team’s probability of making any postseason berth. Probabilities are based on thousands of Monte Carlo simulations of the remaining season schedule incorporating each team’s year-to-date run differential, current roster composition, playing time projections and remaining schedule.
On August 8, it was eight percent. Eight. With 54 games left. That’s to make the postseason in any way. Chances of winning the division on that day? A mere one-and-a-half percent.
That’s what’s amazing – the fact that the Rangers won the AL West is a miracle, when you simply look at the numbers of probability.
Good thing Jeff Banister has never cared about those kinds of stats. He was the only one preaching to keep the faith when Yu Darvish went down in Spring Training. Derek Holland goes down in game one – keep going. Banister was telling his team to keep the faith throughout the year, and they kept fighting. Even through a rough game 161 of the season on Saturday that could have spelled a mental collapse the next day, there is no doubt that his leadership was a huge reason the Rangers bounced back on Sunday with a division clincher.
Of course it helps to have an ace like Cole Hamels on the mound too. He gave up a two-run shot to Albert Pujols in the top of the first inning on Sunday, and you simply tip your cap to the big man. Pujols is only the best darn power hitter in the game for the last 15 years.
After the Pujols bomb, Hamels settled in and gave up a grand total of zero hits after the Angels’ first cycle through the lineup against the former World Series MVP. Surely no one saw the Hamels trade having this immediate an impact on the team when acquiring him in July. He’s a one of the big reasons why the AL Championship came back to Texas eight weeks after trading for him.
The best thing about this squad? It’s a real TEAM. Quick – name the MVP on this club in 2015? There isn’t a no-brainer answer. Prince was consistent throughout the entire season. Choo might arguably have been the best player in the game over the last two months. Beltre was, well, Beltre – simply the greatest free agent signing in the history of the team. Moreland had a career year. Elvis – welcome back to being the player you were three seasons ago. Napoli – this team is not in the postseason without him. He was huge in helping bring this clubhouse together. And Colby Lewis’ impact on this team cannot be measured without an EKG to measure his heart.
The real MVP is Banister, who in his rookie year as a manager proved he is worth his weight in gold. Someone better send Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle a fruit basket, pronto, since he personally called Daniels and basically told him he would be nuts not to hire him.
This team is ahead of schedule. It shouldn’t have come together this quickly. When Yu went down, followed by the Hamels trade, everyone pointed to 2016 and beyond. One could argue that this is all gravy now in the 2015 postseason. I would argue that it’s more of a full meal.
No one predicted the Rangers would be sitting here back in April. Soup’s on. Let’s eat.