"How many homers has Pujols hit?"
In the grand scheme of things, this series doesn't mean that much. But that's not how it feels. It's not even mid-May yet. But we've waited for this all winter. The Angels are in last place. But Sports Illustrated would have us believe that the Angels have shifted the power. The Angels have the eighth worst record in baseball. But the Angels have first place in our gauche little hearts.
The first Rangers game I saw in Arlington after moving to Texas last year was a Friday early May contest against the Angels. I wanted to see the Rangers win because they were playing the Angels, Jered Weaver was pitching, and I like it when the Rangers win baseball games. But at the time, it didn't really feel like October baseball was hanging in the balance of that particular game. That particular game just felt like an early May getting-to-know-the-enemy session. That's probably what this series is. But it doesn't feel like it.
It stopped feeling like it will ever not mean that much on Dec. 8 2011. That's when the Angels spent $317.5 million dollars in one morning because they were mad at the Texas Rangers. The Angels were mad that the Rangers had won the American League West in back-to-back seasons when the Angels had anointed themselves as the deity of the West for a decade. The Angels were mad that the Rangers had designs on being the ruling class in the West for this decade. So, the Angels threw some money at the problem and bought themselves some winter relevancy.
You have to hand it to them, I suppose. In one morning, they made sure that they would be back in the conversation. The best free agent hitter on the market--and best hitter of a generation--was now an Anaheim Angel. The best starting pitcher on the market--from their very division superiors, no less--was now an Anaheim Angel. It's so easy to fall in love with Hot Stove League headlines. We should know. Not a single article in the winter of 2000 went filed without mentioning the powerfully remade Rangers.
So, after winning the West and going to the World Series in consecutive seasons, we got to spend the offseason reading about how great the Angels were going to be again. Awesome. That's why this feels different than just pre-mid-May. It's not like the Rangers were rendered irrelevant again. It's that the Angels were once again positioned shoulder-to-shoulder with the Rangers. We've been waiting since Dec. 8 2011 for this series just so we could start the process of watching the Rangers get the Angels off their backs.
Tonight it begins with Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson. C.J. was that "best starting pitcher on the market." He started Game 1 in every playoff series for the Rangers last season. He's a big reason for the narrative that led to our winter of discontent. I know he'll get booed tonight. I personally think he should get cheered once for his successes as a Texas Ranger and then rewarded with silence and indifference for the remainder of his career for signing with the enemy. The boos probably won't be louder than the YUUUUS, however. That seems fitting enough. It turns out, or so it seems so far, the Rangers got the best starting pitcher on the market, anyway.
I'm not really a booing folks kind of guy. I think they like it when they know you care that much. But I guess I get it. After all, it's the Angels.
I probably won't do this when the Rangers play the A's next week, even though they're actually in second place in the West, but in fine Series Preview/Gauche tradition, here's a breakdown of what this series will mean in the standings:
- Angels sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 4 games
- Angels win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 6 games
- Rangers win 2 of 3 - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 8 games
- Rangers sweep - The Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 10 games
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the last place Anaheim Angels:
- Yu Darvish: 4-1, 10.15 K/9, 4.85 BB/9, .327 BABIP, 82.2% LOB, 3.20 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 21.1 innings
- C.J. Wilson: 4-2, 8.49 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, .227 BABIP, 78.4% LOB, 3.24 FIP, 3.44 xFIP, 0.9 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 22.1 innings
Advantage: Yu Darvish getting Yu'd over C.J. Wilson getting booed.
- Matt Harrison: 4-2, 5.35 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, .323 BABIP, 67.4% LOB, 4.16 FIP, 3.69 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 17 runs allowed in 15.1 innings
- Jerome Williams: 3-1 6.47 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, .284 BABIP, 68.3% LOB, 2.85 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, 0.9 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 22.2 innings
Advantage: Matt Harrison reading My Hairiest Adventure over the clock on Jerome Williams nearing midnight.
- Neftali Feliz: 2-1 7.31 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, .210 BABIP, 80.3% LOB, 4.54 FIP, 4.65 xFIP, 0.3 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
- Jered Weaver: 5-0 8.35 K/9, 1.60 BB/9, .225 BABIP, 83.3% LOB, 2.14 FIP, 3.07 xFIP, 1.9 WAR - Last three starts: 1 run allowed in 21.0 innings
Advantage: The good news is, Neftali Feliz is capable of dominating the Angels. That ability exists and it could happen. The bad news is, Jered Weaver has been dominant this season and looks like a jerk while doing it.
Anaheim Angels (14-18, 4th Place AL West)
Rangers 2011 Record vs. Anaheim: 12-7
Anaheim's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the awful Minnesota Twins
Anaheim's Road Record: 5-10 (41-40 in 2011)
Ballpark In Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 119/114 - wOBA: 103/107
SB Nation Angels Blog: Halos Heaven (Don't.)
|Match-up: (as of 05/10)||Rangers||Angels||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||36.7 (2nd)||-11.0 (19th)||Rangers|
|Base Running (RAR)||0.3 (15th)||-2.9 (27th)||Rangers|
|Starters (RAR)||17.3||31.4||Angels :(|
|Bullpen (RAR)||16.0 (1st)||3.9 (17th)||Rangers|
|Defense (UZR)||14.0 (2nd)||6.8 (5th)||Rangers|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||84.3||28.2||Rangers :)|
Questions to Answer:
- How many games back will the Angels be as they pack up and leave Arlington on Sunday night?
- Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in home runs in this series? (Please be Mike Napoli. Please be Mike Napoli. Please be Mike Napoli. Please be Mike Napoli. Please be Mike Napoli.)
- Over/Under: 3.5 walks allowed by C.J. Wilson in his start in this series?
- On scale of 1-10, with 1 being Spring Training Intrasquad Game and 10 being World Series Game: How sports-fired up are you for this series?
- It's December 8, you wake up, and see this:
What was your thoughts?
What is your thoughts?