Oh, the irony.
All these years where we've lamented, if only the Rangers had league-average pitching.
Well, the Rangers had decent pitching this year. They had a great defense. The Rangers are 3rd in the A.L. in runs allowed per game, 4th in the A.L. in ERA+, and have allowed the fewest unearned runs in the A.L.
The 2009 Rangers have been great at run prevention.
If they only had league average hitting, they'd likely be a playoff team this year.
Here is a complete list of the Rangers players who, by BP's stats, are at least half a run above average offensively this season (relative to their position):
Michael Young -- 21.3 runs above average
Nelson Cruz -- 9.5 runs above average
Ian Kinsler -- 7.8 runs above average
Elvis Andrus -- 3.7 runs above average
Julio Borbon -- 2.6 runs above average
Esteban German -- 1.6 runs above average
That's it. And of course, the last two weeks, Michael Young has been out of the lineup, meaning that Kinsler and Cruz (two guys who a lot of fans want run out of town anyway, Kinsler for popping up too much, Cruz because of the irrational belief that he's a horrible defender) are supposed to be carrying the offense, while we've had David Murphy and Marlon Byrd -- a couple of fourth outfielders -- hitting 3rd and 4th.
When you get right down to it, the Ranger offense has been killed by three things:
Josh Hamilton hasn't hit.
The first basemen -- primarily Chris Davis -- haven't hit.
The catchers haven't hit.
Going back to BP's numbers, Hamilton, expected to be the team's best hitter, has posted a .256 EQA, which is below average. He's been at -6.4 runs relative to average for his position this season, splitting time between right field and center field.
Chris Davis has been 25.9 runs below average for his position, 14 runs below replacement.
Hank Blalock has been 23.2 runs below average for his position, 8.7 runs below replacement.
And Salty and Teagarden have combined to be 13.5 runs below average for their position.
And that's the difference between being a playoff team this year and the Rangers sitting at home and watching in October.
If Hamilton and Davis hit in 2009 like they did in 2008, the Rangers are 4 or 5 games up in the A.L. West right now.
If the Rangers simply get average production out of the catchers, Davis and Blalock, they are in first place right now.
Hell, if just Hamilton replicates his 2008 season in 2009, the Rangers are probably no more than a game or two out right now.
But that hasn't happened. Hamilton faltered, the first basemen and the catchers faltered, and only Michael Young stepped up to pick up the slack.
And so the 2009 Rangers aren't a playoff team.