What a bizzare season it has been in the American League. The Orioles, White Sox and A’s managed to shock everyone and are on their way to the playoffs, while the Red Sox, Angels and Tigers — if the season started today — would be watching the playoffs from their couches. So amid all this madness, who’s the rose up and become the best team in the AL? Read below to find out.
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[one_half] By: Jake Dal Porto
The Rangers? Orioles? Rays? A’s? Who is the best team in the American League? The Yankees certainly aren’t the most heavily favored team to come out of the A.L, but they are still the cream of the crop when it comes to the best teams discussion.
Best Power Hitting Team In MLB
There’s a saying that teams live or die on the home run ball. The Yankees can relate to that matter very well. In all but two games this year, they’ve hit a home runs. In retrospect, their longest streak is 11 games with at least one home run. In short, team’s shape their scouting reports based on trying to strike a power outage. Though rarely do those reports prevail.
What’s surprising about the Yankees is the fact that Mark Teixeria and Alex Rodriguez have both had rather bleak power numbers. Granted, Texixeria has been on the shelf for lengthy periods of time throughout the course of the year. The same can be said for Rodriguez. Yet, they still lead the American League in home runs with 220 which is 25 more home runs than the second place White Sox.
So how have they amassed such lofty totals without their power hitters doing their respective job?
Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano having big years. Thus far, Granderson has collected 39 long balls this year, while Cano has collected 30. Combine those home run totals with a healthy Mark Teixeria and a healthy Alex Rodriguez, and the Yankees’ already potent offense becomes even more lethal.
The idea is a bit vague, but experience makes all the difference in a tightly contested playoff race. As opposed to say the Orioles or A’s, the Yankees won’t panic when luck isn’t going their way. The O’s and A’s basically have nothing to refer to in terms of experience. Oakland’s starting pitching staff doesn’t consist of anybody over the age of 30, while the Orioles haven’t sniffed postseason baseball in over a decade.
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeria, Curtis Granderson, Ichrio, and Nick Swisher all have that “veteran” badge. And ironically, those six shape up New York’s offense.
The Rangers may beg to differ in this regard. The group of Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, and Elvis Andrus have all been a part of the team’s success over the past two years. However, in neither of those two years have they won a World Championship.
I’d bet on Jeter and Rodriguez before I cast my vote for the Rangers’ group.
The Yankees might not own the best record in the A.L, or the best pitching staff, but they rise when the pressure rises. Not many teams have the benefit of being able to shift into that kind of gear, and the few that do usually find more success down the stretch and in the postseason.
[one_half_last] By: Baily Deeter
They led 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 6 of the World Series. Texas was up 3-2 in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who had played a sloppy game. Allen Craig homered in the eighth, but there were two outs and two strikes in the ninth with Texas owning a two-run lead. David Freese knocked in two with an opposite-field triple, tying the game. In the 11th, Freese homered to center, ending the game. The Rangers lost Game 7, finishing their spectacular season in heartbreaking fashion.
However, what people didn’t realize is that the Rangers absolutely crushed their American League competition. And they’re going to do it again this year.
Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus anchor one of the best offenses in the game, while Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison anchor a talented pitching staff. Joe Nathan is a top-notch closer, and the Rangers are a very, very experienced team.
The National League has some great teams, and they will contend with the Rangers for a World Series title. But in my mind, there’s no doubt the Rangers are the best team in the AL. They have speedy players who can steal bases, and they have an incredible lineup featuring talent, speed and power top-to-bottom.
Oh, and a lot of Ranger players can get hits. And when they get hits, they get home runs.
Murphy and Beltre rank among the top six in AL batting average leaders, while Beltre and Hamilton are among the league leaders in homers. Kinsler has a ton of homers for a leadoff hitter, and Andrus has hit some out of the park too (although he is known for his .290 batting average and .352 OBP). Beltre has a staggering WAR (wins above replacement) of 6, while he and Hamilton both have WARs exceeding 4.
The Rangers lead the league in batting average and runs scored, and they are third in on-base percentage (they have a .336 team OBP, while the Tigers and Cardinals have a .337 team OBP). And, they are in the top half of the league in team ERA. Harrison and Darvish both rank in the top five in the NL in wins, as Harrison has 17 and Darvish has 16.
Nathan is still a dominant closer, as he can get outs by inducing weak contact or by way of the strikeout. He doesn’t have tons of playoff experience, but his teammates certainly know what it’s like to play in the World Series. They’ve learned from their mistakes, and with a more talented team, they are ready to go.
The Yankees are a great team, even though they bought most of their talent. However, they don’t have a great pitching staff or bullpen, and the Rangers have scored 38 more runs than the Yankees this year (in the same amount of games). Texas dominated New York in the 2010 playoffs, and the Yankees haven’t been able to get out of the ALCS since 2009.
New York has fallen apart recently, despite great play from Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter. They have struggled to win games and are seeking help from lots of sources. Texas has a set, top-to-bottom lineup, yet they also feature some of the game’s top prospects in Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt and Martin Perez.
Texas is dominating and they are ready to win. The Yankees have playoff experience, but the Rangers have been right in the thick of things recently, and they have more talent top-to-bottom. Unlike the Yankees and all other teams, the Rangers have no holes.
And that’s why they are obviously the best team in the AL and clear favorites to represent the league in the World Series.
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