Ahh October, the bitter cold weather, raking crisp leaves, baking apple and pumpkin pies, and what else? Baseball. Yes the most exciting time of year for a baseball fan. Throw the records out from the past seven months that made got you where you are today. Because today is a new day, a new season. Lets say its the the ALCS. Your season comes down to a seven game series. One slip can turn the momentum to the other team and your hard work will send you packing home while the other team pops champagne and they move onto the Fall Classic. You will never get the choice to choose your opponent in the ALCS, but if you had to out of these two teams who would you choose? The Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers?
In a playoff series a major key is starting pitching. Pitching usually sets the tone of the series. The smaller the series is, the bigger starting pitching becomes. Now its only late July basically August. So there is plenty of baseball left to play and numbers to be looked up. The Rangers always had one of the most scariest lineups in the Major League, but the Rays lineup of Longoria, Crawford, Zobrist, and Pena isn't too shabby either. Plus the Rangers staff is very young and very talented. Trading for Cliff Lee raised their stock to make the World Series vastly over the past month. Lee is a horse. His past eight starts he lasted at least eight innings. Who doesn't love an innings eater deep into the playoffs? He sure did a favor for the Phillies. If Philly had any help from their other starters then they maybe the back to back champions of baseball. On a complete other note Roy Halladay will not give the Phillies what Lee did for them a year ago. Just zero chance that happens. That is how good Lee was.
Meet the staffs.
Rangers : 11.8 total SP WAR
Cliff Lee - WAR 4.9
Colby Lewis - WAR 2.7
C.J. Wilson - WAR 2.3
Scott Feldman - WAR 1.1
Tommy Hunter - WAR 0.8
Rays : 6.8 total SP WAR
David Price - WAR 2.4
Jeff Niemann - WAR 1.4
Matt Garza - WAR 1.2
Wade Davis - WAR 0.1
James Shields - WAR 1.7
Although Lee's total WAR as a Ranger is only 0.9 if you subtracted the 4.0 WAR he had with Seattle the Rangers WAR would still be higher than the Rays. Now I know WAR is the only stat, but for now lets go with this. I think just having Lee in a 7 game series could be two easy wins. Its good to have Lee because he can cancel out your opponents ace in a series. Look what he did to CC Sabathia in the World Series. Then I would see C.J. Wilson and company getting at least one other win to take the series. Especially with that lineup down in the Lone Star state which is what I'll get into next.
Now the Rays are getting great offensive production from Crawford, Longoria, and Zobrist. All have solid wOBA's Longoria sits at .387, Crawford at .385, and Zobrist at .351. Other contributors to the Rays include Pena, Joyce, and Jaso. Who all been okay players so far. B.J. Upton and Barlett been a little disappointing up to this part. Upton seems to be a little clueless on the base paths too. Without looking up stats or anything I've seen him get picked off a few times this year. He makes it known when hes about to steal also, but he has a 81% stealing %. Thats good so no worries B.J. I know that three Rays been excellent, but the others can turn it on and be a hero come playoff time. I mean anything can happen.
But based on the stats I'm a bit more afraid of the Rangers lineup. Five players on the Rangers have a WAR over 2.0. 2.0 WAR means you are a good player. Josh Hamilton is my MVP so far in the season. So they have him Nelson Cruz, Micheal Young, Ian Kinsler, and Vladdy. With Andrus being an okay player too. Remember its still July and these numbers can go up. I'd be more afraid of this lineup for sure though. I mean facing Kinsler, Young, Hamilton, Vladdy, and Cruz in a row is just crazy scary for the opposing team.
Now when its late in the game you need a good bullpen to shut the door. I think the Rangers have the best pen in the MLB. I see Feliz, Oliver, Holland, and Francisco all with K/9's above 9.0. Striking out guys is the best way to get out of innings for a reliever. At least it don't move baserunners over. The Rangers also have four guys who are under league average in LOB%. The Rays pen really can't compete with the Rangers. Also the Rangers have tons of guys in the farm system that can come up and pitch really well.
So case closed. I'm really more afraid of playing the Texas Rangers than the Tampa Bay Rays at this point in the season.