What a difference a week makes. The confidence index has jumped up dramatically after dipping below 50 last week, on the heels of taking two of three against the Angels and splitting a pair of games in Chicago. The Rangers are sitting in first place, a game up on Oakland, a game and a half up on Anaheim, with the fourth best record in the A.L.
The 2010 Rangers were 25-18 after 43 games, two games better than where the 2011 Rangers are, but that team was also about to embark on a 1-6 stretch that would drop them to 26-24. As late as June 7, the 2010 Rangers were 30-27, just 3 games above .500. So this year's Ranger team looks, about a quarter of the way in, very similar to last year's team.
Of course, the 2010 Rangers ended up making hay in June, reeling off an 11 game winning streak while riding on the back of Josh Hamilton, who established his MVP credentials with one of the most insane months I've ever seen, hitting .454 with a 1297 OPS in June, 2010. The Rangers went from a half game up when that streak started to 4.5 games up after win #11, and never looked back after that.
Despite the struggles and the problems the Rangers have had so far this year, no one else in the West looks all that strong, and Texas seems to be in a position where they can get on a run and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the West in the coming weeks. Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are both due back from the disabled list shortly, which should provide a boost, and after this weekend's trip to Philadelphia, the schedule is on the softer side.
If the bullpen can just hold together, the Rangers have a chance, in the next couple of weeks, to build on the slender lead they currently hold in the West, and position themselves for a repeat of 2010.