seven reasons that the Rangers posed a threat to the Angels' AL West title hopes. You didn't really think that we were going to let them off that easy though, did you? So today, we'll do you one better (literally) and give you EIGHT reasons why the Angels will ultimately be able to fend off the Rangers:Yesterday we pondered over the
- Road Woes. The Rangers have just 39 games left with 22 of them coming on the road, which is enough to make even the best road team wince a little bit. The Rangers, however, are definitely not the best road team. In fact, they aren't even a good road team at 28-30 as the away club this year. If the best that Texas can do is tread water on the road in those 22 games, the Angels (the best road team in the AL, by the way) will easily cruise to the AL West crown.
- Too wild. For the Rangers, being in the playoff hunt this late in the season is a big surprise. They are so close they can practically taste it. Of course, they are a lot closer to tasting a wild card berth (1.5 games back) than the division title (5 games back). Certainly nobody would blame the Rangers if they got distracted by the much more attainable wild card than trying to hunt down the Angels. To them, a playoff spot is still a playoff spot, no matter how they get there.
- Holy crap its hot. The Angels may only have two days off the rest of the way, but the Rangers only have three off days themselves and must do it in the sweltering Texas heat. For a team besieged by recent injuries, the combination of a heavy road schedule and playing home games a quarter mile away from the sun could really test the team's depth and mental fortitude.
- Experience. To the Angels, a playoff race is old hat, but for the Rangers, it will largely be a new experience. Only five players on the Texas roster have any post-season experience: Eddie Guardado (currently on the disabled list), Omar Vizquel (reduced to a bench player), Ivan Rodriguez (just acquired), Kevin Millwood and Andruw Jones. Only Millwood and Jones currently play major roles on the team, and since Andruw Jones is the exact polar opposite of a locker room leader, Millwood will be all the Rangers have to look to when pressure starts to mount. As an Angel fan, I am more than comfortable with the arrangement.
- No ace in the hole. Man that Texas pitching is good, the best since the All-Star break, as was pointed out yesterday. But is it playoff race good? Every other post-season contender has an ace they can rely on to save them whenever they start to slump or to win a critical game. The Rangers have Kevin Millwood playing the role of "ace." Millwood is currently 9-8 and has won just a single decision since June 26th, not exactly what one would expect from the leader of a dominant pitching staff. The Rangers could probably actually use an ace right about now since they have lost four of their last six and are about to take on the Yankees. Let's see how well that works out for them.
- Vlad the Ranger Impaler. I know that Vladimir Guerrero hasn't exactly been an MVP-caliber player the last few years, but he has come back to life in the last month. That is really bad news for the Rangers aka Vladimir's bitches. Guerrero is batting something like .788 lifetime against the Rangers (OK, it is really .396 with 1.136 OPS, but the point remains the same) and has made a habit out of beating Texas single-handedly year in and year out. This year is no different as Vlad sports a .412 average and 1.032 OPS against the Rangers in 2009... and that includes the first part of the season when Guerrero could hit. As long as Vlad stays healthy, expect the Angels 3-9 record against Texas to change dramatically when the two meet again.
- 5 games is a still big lead. The Rangers have 7 games left against the Angels, but they still have to overcome a five game lead and have just 39 games to do it. That is a decent gap for the Rangers to have to close, even with the head-to-head games versus the Angels still to come.
- They're still the Rangers. At the end of the day, let's not forget that the Rangers are still the Rangers. Aside from a few years where they got trounced in the ALDS in the late 1990's, Texas has done absolutely nothing as a franchise. What makes anyone think that is going to change now? Pulling off a great late-season surge to up end a perennial contender just isn't in their DNA.