If there is one thing I know about, it is hangovers. And this year it looks like the Texas Rangers could be headed for one.
The severity of the hangover depends on a load of factors, such as type of booze, potency of narcotics accompanying the booze, and the amount of booze consumed. So, obviously, not all hangovers are the same. Some send you into the fetal position on the couch for two days. Some are brutal, but you are capable of fighting through it and getting your business taken care of in an angry and inefficient way.
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Now it’s time for Texas to get a little taste of the Championship Loser’s Hangover, which, in sports, may be the equivalent of downing handle of rail vodka in the middle of a three-day meth binge.
In football we have seen this hangover rear its head for the better part of the decade, with the Super Bowl loser struggling its way through the following season in the fetal position. It’s now to the point where it is a given that the team that loses the Super Bowl is going to suck the next year. In baseball, only one of the last five World Series losers (the 2010 Phillies) made the postseason the following year. Further, over the last 18 years no World Series loser made a return trip to the Fall Classic the following season.
So while people may be penciling in the Rangers for another fall run, I would caution against backing this team too hard. The word is out on this team; they aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year and it is going to be very difficult to find value on a club with high expectations. So last year was fun. It was a wild party. But now in 2011 I wouldn’t be surprised if July rolls around and we find the Rangers passed out naked in the lawn.
Here are Doc’s Sports 2011 Texas Rangers Predictions and MLB Futures Odds:
2010 Record: 90-72
2011 Wins Over/Under: 88.5
Odds To Win 2011 AL West: 1/1.5
Odds To Win 2011 AL Pennant: 4.5/1
2011 Texas Rangers Odds to Win World Series: 8/1
Pitching: Yeah, the Rangers have some issues. Cliff Lee’s impact in Arlington was overrated last season. However, without him the Rangers have a vacuum at the top of their rotation. C.J. Wilson was excellent last year, going 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA. However, I can’t take him seriously as a No. 1 starter and a staff ace. Colby Lewis was another revelation. But he is just 24-28 with a 5.27 ERA in his career in the Majors. Tommy Hunter has a lot of potential but he’s been banged up this spring and has been inconsistent. I am not buying into Matt Harrison or Derek Holland, two more lefties, as every-fifth-day guys. The bullpen has some excellent specialists. But the Neftali Feliz debacle this Spring Training could have thrown off the chi of this staff. I have no problem with the fact that Ron Washington is going with Feliz as his closer. But I think that he has increased the risk of injury by stretching out and treating him as a starter in Arizona only to stuff him back in the pen once the team gets back to Texas. This Rangers staff isn’t terrible. But it isn’t as good as it was last year, that’s for sure.
Hitting: There really isn’t a ton to say here that hasn’t already been said. The Rangers boast one of the two or three best lineups in baseball – when everyone is healthy. Josh Hamilton is the reigning A.L. MVP, but he has a long injury history. Same with Ian Kinsler, who is one of the best hitting second basemen in baseball. This team has so much depth that a professional hitter, former batting champ, and career .300 hitter Michael Young is starting the year on the bench (or as the DH). I will say that this team is going to miss Vlad Guerrero in the middle of the order. Texas signed Adrian Beltre, who will be a big upgrade defensively at third base. But we’ve seen how Beltre responds in the season after a contract year, and let’s just say that the results are underwhelming. But young studs like Nelson Cruz, David Murphy and Mitch Moreland will provide plenty of pop. Their fielding is improving and this team is relentless against mediocre and back-end starters. But as we saw last October, good pitching will always beat good hitting and it remains to be seen if this club can scratch out enough runs against elite starters to get back to The Series.
Key Stat: Last year the Rangers posted their best team ERA in 20 years (3.93). They were No. 9 in the league in ERA and No. 6 in the Majors in team batting average against.
2011 Texas Rangers Predictions: Nolan Ryan and I are in agreement: our confidence level in the Rangers “isn’t as high today…because of the concerns (we) have for certain segments of the club.” The Rangers pitching staff is really weak. However, if you were to take the three best hitters from the Angels, Mariners and A’s and combine them I bet you still couldn’t field a lineup better than what Texas trots out on a regular basis. Further, it is not as if the pitching on those other teams is SO much better that the Rangers have to worry about someone surging past them. I think Texas is going to be a losing proposition, long-term, as a betting option this year. But they will still win around 87 or 88 games and take this division by simply outlasting the other duds.
2011 Texas Rangers MLB Season Win Totals Predictions: Take ‘Over’ 86.5 Wins. I wouldn’t touch this number with a 10-foot pole. It is conspicuously low for a team that was in the World Series last year and as I look at this Texas pitching staff I think it has more potential to be one of the worst in the American League than one of the best. However, Seattle is abhorrent, Oakland is still mediocre and the Angels aren’t what they once were. So this is Texas’ division to lose and the odds are that they can still strong-arm the other three teams. And if they win this division they will do it with at least 87 wins.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click here for more information on his MLB picks.