Based on the flood of articles I’ve seen on the topic, if you are any kind of Angels or Rangers or general baseball blogger and have not written up an extensive comparison of those two teams, then you, good sir, aren’t worth a damn. As it turns out, I have yet to do this, so allow me to try and make myself worth a damn.
As you have no doubt already read elsewhere the comparison of these two AL West squads boils down to this: the Rangers definitely have a better offense and the Angels probably have better pitching. Oh my, it is too close to call! Whatever shall we do?
Actually, I know exactly what to do… shut up and wait until the games start.
(Incoming cliche alert)
In case you aren’t aware, all these comparisons do is focus on who is better on paper and (here it comes) it turns out that games are played on the field, not on paper (I warned you). The basic fact of the matter is that as smart as we all think we are, there is A LOT of unknowns that come into play when we try and project how these two teams will actually perform. Let us not forget that most everyone was sure the Rangers would run away with the AL West last season, but they didn’t. Heck, there was a lot of folks that actually thought the A’s would be the ones pushing Texas for the AL West crown in 2011. Umm, oops.
So when we say that the Texas offense is “definitely better” than the Angels, can we really be so sure. Are we sure that Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz can stay healthy? Are we sure the Mike Napoli won’t regress to his more mortal production levels from his Angel days? Are we sure that Michael Young won’t start hitting like most other 35-year olds? Are we sure that Adrian Beltre won’t realize it isn’t a contract year so he won’t have to try anymore? By the same token, are we sure Mark Trumbo won’t improve? Are we sure that Kendrys Morales won’t come back healthy and as good as he ever was? Are we sure Howie Kendrick isn’t just realizing his full potential? Are we sure that Mike Trout isn’t ready to show his star potential? Are we sure that Erick Aybar hasn’t finally been diagnosed and treated for ADHD? Are we sure Vernon Wells can’t remember how to hit?
OK, I think I took that one rhetorical question too far.
All the same major questions apply to the pitching comparisons. Maybe it will turn out that Jered Weaver’s late-season slide really was his arm starting to breakdown after taking on such a huge workload the last few years. Even if that doesn’t happen, is the Angel pitching really still that much better if Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz both turn out to be lights out ace starting pitchers? Conversely, what if Darvish and Feliz both totally bust out? If that happens, the perceived offensive dominance of the Rangers may not matter.
There are all kind of hypothetical rabbit holes we can go down that can completely change the outlook of the season for each team.
What if the Rangers add Prince Fielder?
What if Albert Pujols’ elbow ends up needing Tommy John surgery?
What if Josh Hamilton falls off the wagon?
What if Jordan Walden turns goes all Mark Wohlers mental after his late-season meltdown?
What if Mark Trumbo learns how to draw some walks?
What if Ron Washington actually learns how to manage his bullpen?
What if Mike Scioscia shirks his managerial responsibilities all season because he is still mourning the loss of his beloved Jeff Mathis?
What if the state of Texas finally secedes from the Union?
Without access to a What If Machine, nobody knows any of these answers. Thats why all these comparisons are, and excuse my language here, like masturbation. It is fun to do by yourself, doesn’t have that big of a payoff and is nowhere near as good as the real thing. I know waiting for the real thing can be frustrating because we want it so bad and these comparisons are the best thing we can all do to stave off a collective case of blue (base)balls, but don’t put any stock in them.
The only “analysis” we really need is that both teams should be pretty good and should engage in a great race. Nobody knows who will win, but it should be entertaining. End of analysis.