On July 31, Major League Baseball’s annual trade deadline, pitcher Cole Hamels was introduced as the newest member of the Texas Rangers. He’d been acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal widely viewed as laying groundwork for future seasons, but at his press conference that day, Hamels insisted there was “still a chance” for his new club to win it all this year.
Even the most ardent Texas fans could only smile and shake their heads at his seemingly misplaced optimism. The team had a losing record and sat in third place in the American League West, eight games behind the Houston Astros. Worse yet, the Rangers trailed seven other clubs in the race for even a wild card spot. Before that night’s game, Baseball Prospectus’ statistical analysis gave the team a 6 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Think of that when the World Series concludes this month, and the Rangers finally hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.
This team had every excuse to give up on 2015. Their roster racked up more time on the disabled list—totaling more than 1,600 missed games—than any other in MLB. But powered by a tremendous comeback year from Prince Fielder, a second-half turnaround by Shin-Soo Choo, the addition of Hamels, and the steady leadership of first-year manager Jeff Banister, the Rangers overachieved their mediocre run differential and lackluster advanced statistics to bring a championship to the Globe.
This may not be the most talented 25-man roster ever assembled in Arlington, but given their achievement-to-expectations ratio: Greatest. Rangers. Ever.*