Home / MLB / 2015 Recap: Texas Rangers
Prince Fielder had a bounce back year with 23 home runs, 98 RBIs and a .305 batting average Credit: Photo File

Prince Fielder had a bounce back year with 23 home runs, 98 RBIs and a .305 batting average Credit: Photo File

Texas Rangers (88-74, first in AL West)

Over the last six seasons, the most prosperous franchises in baseball have been, in no particular order the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants, the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers.

Despite an unnerving 95 losses in 2014, the Rangers were able to emphatically dispel rumors of transitioning into a rebuilding phase and instead perpetuate the continuous, most successful run in the 55-year history of their franchise.

The Rangers belong in the top six because of back-to-back AL pennants in 2010 and 2011 and four consecutive 90-win seasons including a franchise-high 96 in 2011. The Rangers made the postseason in 2015 after a two-year absence.

But even then, it wasn’t that easy. They had a rough April going 7-14 and were as many as eight games under .500 on May 3. They went on a critical seven-game winning streak at the end of May that included series wins over the Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. The Rangers swept the Yankees at Yankee Stadium thanks to two slugfests; one 10-9 on May 22 on two home runs by Prince Fielder and 15-4 May 23 with six runs off CC Sabathia.

But the Rangers still struggled for a majority of the first four months of the season. They were below .500 entering the month of the August. Of course, that’s when they made the trade for Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels.

And thanks to Hamels, two back-to-back 18-10 marks in the months of August and September along with the upstart Astros coming back to reality the Rangers won the American League West for the first time since 2011.

The Rangers played the equally surging Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series. And what transpired in the series had to leave the Rangers with a bevy of mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was glad to be back in the postseason after missing the past two years. But on the other hand, the Rangers took the first two games of the series at Rogers Centre.

The starting pitching duo of Yovani Gallardo and Cole Hamels managed the potent Blue Jays’ offense to seven runs in two games. The Rangers’ offense roughed up ace David Price for five runs in game one.

The Blue Jays eagerly took advantage of the hitter friendly confines of Globe Park in Arlington with 13 runs in games three and four.

Game five at Rogers Centre may have been the most memorable in the divisional round and among any postseason game. In the seventh inning, Shin-Soo Choo was hitting with two outs and Rougned Odor at third. The game was tied two. Blue Jays’ catcher Russell Martin retrieved a strike two pitch and attempted to throw it back to Aaron Sanchez. The throw hit the knob of Choo’s bat and rolled into foul territory. The play wasn’t ruled dead and Odor scored the go ahead run.

The Rangers committed three errors in the bottom of the seventh inning, which was punctuated by a three-run homer by Jose Bautista.

The Rangers were the fifth team in division series play to lose a series in which they had 2-0 series lead.

But it’s possible that a legendary game in the franchise was rendered less painful because of the circus that it became.

With an interesting mixture of youth and experience, the Rangers feel like a team that could win the division again or finish last and neither result would be surprising.

Postseason: Lost in the American League Division Series 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays

Top Performers

3B Adrian Beltre: G 143, AB 567, HR 18

SP Yovani Gallardo: GS 33, IP 184.1, W-L 13-11

RF Shin-Soo Choo: G 149, AB 555, HR 22

1B Mitch Moreland: G 132, AB 471, HR 23

SS Elvis Andrus: G 160, AB 596, HR 7

Biggest Need: Left fielder

Josh Hamilton has been just important to the current success of the Rangers as anybody has ever been in their franchise. He still has the highest batting average in the last six years with .359 in 2010. He won the MVP that year and the Rangers made their first World Series. But he’s dealt with injuries the last two years; he’s played a combined 139 games. He’ll have the educational multi-homer now and then, but he needs some help so he doesn’t have to play everyday.

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– Tristan Tippet
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