Relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers, are now Texas Rangers. (Photo: Mark Goldman/Newscom)

Sports

The Texas Rangers Are Now Good

They've ridden incredible luck in one-run games to a division lead.

Tim referenced the excellent day that your Texas Rangers had yesterday. Without giving up Nomar Mazara or Joey Gallo (as many observers expected they might have to), they landed probably the best position players available on the market ahead of MLB’s trade deadline yesterday: Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers and Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees.

When last I rained on the Rangers 2016 championship parade hopes in this space, I pointed to the ridiculously good luck they’d been having this season. That luck has continued.

Their record in one-run games is, as of today, 23-7. (Typically a team would only expect to be within a game or two of a 15-15 record in 30 one-run-games.) That’s slipped just slightly from what their record in such contests was in late June. It remains ahead of the pace of the 2012 Orioles, who had posted the best one-run record in 122 years. If you look at the underlying statistics that more typically predict a team’s winning percentage, the Rangers should actually be in third place in the American League West, with a losing record.

But they’re not in third. They’re in first with a 5.5 game lead on second-place Houston. They have the advantage, but they couldn’t do nothing at all and expect their luck to last. As Ben Lindbergh put it on the Ringer:

Catcher was weak, home to Robinson Chirinos and the real Killer B’s (Bryan Holaday, Bobby Wilson, and Brett Nicholas). Left field was a wasteland where Delino DeShields and Ryan Rua roamed. Rookie right fielder Mazara, filling in for the oft-injured Shin-Soo Choo, had slumped to a combined .690 OPS in June and July, and Profar was needed at more positions than even he could play — moonlighting in left, spelling the aged Adrián Beltré at third, platooning at first with a mediocre Mitch Moreland, and subbing at DH for Prince Fielder, who’d had season-ending surgery days earlier. Despite their first-place status, the Rangers really needed help.

They really got it.

Lucroy is a great catcher. Beltran remains a valuable hitter and an upgrade at DH. They got some bullpen help. Who cares if luck got them this far? They’re good now and the Astros did nothing at the deadline. Expect October baseball in Arlington.

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