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SweetSpot TV: Can Texas win 100?

5/17/2012

At the start of the week, the Texas Rangers were 23-12 and had outscored their opponents by 80 runs. This put them on pace for 106 wins and a run differential of +370 runs. Just to show how dominant that pace was, here are the last 10 MLB-leading run differentials:

2011: Yankees, +210

2010: Yankees, +166

2009: Dodgers, +169

2008: Cubs, +184

2007: Red Sox, +210

2006: Yankees, +163

2005: Cardinals, +171

2004: Cardinals, +196

2003: Braves, +167

2002: Angels, +207

In fact, that 370 would be one of the highest figures ever. The record belongs to the 1939 Yankees at +411 runs. Since World War II, the only teams to reach a run differential of +300 were the 1998 Yankees (+306) and 2001 Mariners (+300). Those two teams won 114 and 116 games, respectively.

Anyway, that was on Monday. Eric Karabell and I taped the above video and the Rangers promptly lost two games to the Royals before rebounding with a win on Wednesday. The Orioles and Rays now have an identical W-L record of 24-14, although the Rangers' run differential remains much more impressive (the Orioles are +16, the Rays +17). The Rangers' current paces are 102 wins and +332.

The caveat, of course, is that's it early. Back in 2010, the Tampa Bay Rays were 30-11 and had outscored their opponents 225 to 128. They were on pace for 118 wins and a run differential of +383. They finished with 96 wins and +153.

One advantage the Rangers have compared to that 2010 Tampa Bay team, however, is that they'll get to play the A's and Mariners 38 times instead of 36 against the Yankees and Red Sox. Wednesday's win over the A's was the Rangers' first game against Oakland and they've played just four against Seattle. That means of their 124 remaining games, 26.7 percent are against the A's and Mariners. They also get the Astros six games in interleague play and 12 against the NL West (but miss the Dodgers). And if the Angels don't improve, that's another 16 games against a mediocre club.

So I still think the Rangers have an excellent shot at 100 wins, even if Josh Hamilton doesn't hit .400 all season.

What do you think?