With Smoke, Mirrors and Miracles, Rangers Are Actually Contending

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Yeah, I don’t know how often I will be posting here, since I had to make some tough decisions about what to focus on in my life, but I can try to post something whenever I have a strong enough view to write about it.

With that out of the way…

How the hell did we get here?

When last anything was happening on this blog, the Rangers were not in good shape, to say the least. They went into Spring Training with the talent level unable to carry the dirty laundry of the 2010 squad, and they followed that up with an April of playing some of the worst baseball in even this franchise’s history,

So how in the world are they suddenly holding a Wild Card spot and knocking on the door of first place in the West in September?

It’s pretty clear this team is winning now because it’s not the team JD & Co. expected to play out this season with, with or without Yu Darvish. The reasons the Rangers are playing as good as they are are mostly ones no one saw coming, but the biggest ones have to be:

Delino DeShields: the Leonys Martin experiment is mercifully over, declared a failure after he lost the CF job to a former infielder picked up off the Rule 5 scrap heap. Leonys could be the poster child for how pure ability does not guarantee success; I don’t think I’ve seen another player other than a pitcher have so much faith put into for so long just because of potential. But his speed and “great arm” could not overcome ineptness at the plate and the failure to make plays in the outfield, and thus the job had to go to a rookie with effort over talent. DeShields could be a second coming of Rusty Greer in terms of succeeding just by playing all out and getting the job done.

Colby Lewis: This may be Colby’s last go-round with the Rangers, and it will be sad to see him go. Because he’s done everything asked of him, even overcoming what was supposed to be a career-ending injury. When the Rangers were floundering, he kept them afloat just long enough for everyone to get their acts together. He’ll likely be the odd man out as Chi Chii needs to be in the rotation next year, but he deserves a standing ovation as he heads out the door one last time.

Choo got his head out of his ass: I stand by everything I said about Shin Soo Choo earlier this season, including the part about wanting to trade him for a 1992 Cavalier, because he deserved it; he was one of the worst players in baseball and fast about to surpass Chan Ho Park as the worst FA signing in team history. But somewhere after the All Star Break, he learned how to hit the ball again, and keeping him in RF has limited his defensive deficiencies. That doesn’t mean I’d be against shopping him still this winter, especially since this team still desperately needs right-handed power, but I will still always give credit when it’s deserved as much as I will give criticism.

Tolly Time: Shawn Tolleson may be an even bigger example over Delino about how results trump the supposed physical tools needed for the job. I’ve heard all year about how he just doesn’t have the overpowering stuff to be a true closer. But still, for a rookie that didn’t expect to be a stopper in April, here he is with only two blown saves all year. The only problem has been when Bannister has used him too many times in some stretches, but blame that on the bullpen not having much else for too long. If he continues to GET THE JOB DONE over guys with better physical traits, we should be just fine hearing Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” in the ninth inning for years to come.

This doesn’t mean I’m completely convinced this team is back to the top There are still big holes on this squad, and with just how good the Royals have become and how much better the Astros can become, nothing is guaranteed. But at least the future in Arlington looks a lot better than it did five months ago.

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