Worst and best and strange and awesome.
We’re finished with the strangest part of the schedule (five games in the last 11 days) in what has been the strangest year of Rangers baseball I can remember.
Going by OPS, Ian Kinsler is having the worst year at the plate of his career.
As is Michael Young.
As is Mike Napoli, which is compounded by the fact that Yorvit Torrealba is, too.
Nelson Cruz is having his worst season since the Rangers ran him clear through league-wide waivers before the 2008 season.
The last single month in which Josh Hamilton was less productive than he’s been in June and July combined was in July of 2009, when he was returning from abdominal surgery and a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The club is stealing fewer bases than it did last year, and getting caught more often.
On the pitching side, Derek Holland has been on the disabled list and Colby Lewis has been on the disabled list and Neftali Feliz has been on the disabled list and Alexi Ogando has been on the disabled list and Koji Uehara has been on the disabled list and Mark Lowe has been on the disabled list.
And yet only one team has a better record in all of baseball.
And only one team has a better offense.
And only one team in the American League has a better ERA.
The Rangers’ 55-36 record is the best after 91 games in franchise history. Two games better than it was in 1996 and 2004. Three games better than in 2010. Five games better than in 2011.
How much better would the best team in Rangers history be if Kinsler and Young and Napoli and Cruz were having what amounted to normal seasons for them, and if Hamilton wasn’t in such an extended tailspin, and if the pitching staff hadn’t been so decimated?
These next 11 days are going to be fascinating, which reminds me that the person in this organization I have the most faith in, more than any hitter or any pitcher, is Jon Daniels.
And while the next 14 days are certainly more important for the Angels than they are for the Rangers, the fact that the two teams tee it up seven times in 13 games is pretty great baseball theater, seven games thick with steady intensity and collisions of swagger, three times there and four times here, all played out against the backdrop of a different brand of baseball drama, this one between 30 front offices aiming at different levels to alter the direction of their franchises, some with a long-term view and others with something altogether more urgent, with many believing the most heated competition will be between the two teams that, on July 31, will be busy doing battle on the field in Arlington.
Trying to peg the pitching probables for Rangers-Angels, July 30 through August 2, is sort of foolish right now, and not just because both teams have an off-day the week before to take advantage of. One of those two teams, if not both, may prefer to treat its trade deadline as July 29 (easier said than done), the day on which the General Manager for one speaks to 300 of us for what shapes up to be a fascinating hour and a half.
Coming off that strange week and a half in which so little baseball was played, we head into a week and a half of awesome baseball overload, starting these next three days with Holland-Weaver, Darvish-Santana, and Harrison-Haren.
3, 5, 7, or 9.
It’s a much more predictable set of outcomes than what might happen to the Rangers’ and Angels’ rosters between this weekend’s three in Anaheim and the end of the teams’ four games in Arlington a week and a half later.