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In memoriam: The Texas Rangers

Our rivals in #baseballtown were unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Way back in March, I was tasked with previewing the Texas Rangers' season. Confidently - defiantly? - I predicted that while the Angels would likely be mediocre at best, the Rangers shouldn't have expected to be much better. Naturally, both squads went in opposite directions, as the Angels' rotation was devastated by injuries, while also experiencing some bouts of bad luck on the field of play. The Rangers, meanwhile, had everything go right, riding good fortune all the way to the best record in the AL.

Apparently the good folks in Texas remember more than the Alamo, as several of our friends from over at Lonestar Ball were quick to remind me of my failed prediction, once it was clear Texas would cruise to a division title. Some of my favorite nuggets sitting in my email box:

Previewing Texas Rangers??  Do you still have a job?  #nevereverquit

Sincerest thanks for your prediction last March that the Texas Rangers would be bad this year and were just average. Guess what ? The best team in the AL is sending you a crow pie!!

Honestly, I was just impressed there were still Rangers fans even paying attention during high school football season. But fair enough. I made a prediction that the Rangers would be mediocre, only to see them go out and pace the league in wins, so I'll gladly eat my crow pie (à la mode, please). That said, I will not pass up the opportunity to offer them a heaping spoonful of my dessert, as the deuce they dropped in the first round was all-too predictable.

First, observe this nifty little piece linked in this morning's Mondolinks, where Rob Arthur outlines the Rangers' historic run of luck in one-run games. Angel fans are no strangers to charges of luck-fueled success, as many a smart analyst were left scratching their heads over their success in one-run games during their hey-day a decade ago. Most concluded that elite level bullpens allowed for this success. Arthur explains that this is not exactly the case with the 2016 Rangers, whose bullpen has actually been pretty poor this season, aside from Sam Dyson and Matt Bush. Instead, the Rangers' success here has been mostly attributed to timing, or clutch. Which is fine for those who still believe in things like the Easter Bunny but has no real place in serious sports analysis.

Indeed, despite sporting the second-best record in all of baseball, the Rangers scored only 8 runs more than they allowed the whole season, which most years would project to about 82 wins or so. As pointed out by Rahul in one of the links above, the only team ahead of the Rangers, record-wise, was the Cubs, with a +252 run differential. Even if you want to make the case that the Cubs beat up on inferior NL opponents, the Mariners and Astros played essentially the same schedule as Texas, finishing with run differentials of +61 and +23, respectively.

So let's just say I'm a nerd with a calculator and am just piecing together stats to come up with any conclusion I feel best supports my case. Screw the numbers, the Rangers had the will to win. Wouldn't that superior intestinal fortitude have shown up at some point in the last three games? If they were such a clutch group of players, how did they fail so spectacularly when all the chips were on the table?

Congratulations on your AL West crown, Ranger fans. You guys had a great season and no one can take that away from you. Maybe next year your pixie dust won't wear off come playoff time, if you somehow manage to see your team finish ahead of their superior division rivals again.