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Series Preview: Minnesota Twins @ Texas Rangers - An Opportunity

Rod Carew enjoys his new life in asset protection
Rod Carew enjoys his new life in asset protection

During this current concoction of competitive baseball in the never-ending saga that is the Rangers roster (we'll say post Teixeira era, so 2008-to-present), the Rangers have gone 84-70 (a .545 winning percentage) against the America League Central. Comparatively, the Rangers have gone 110-90 (a .550 winning percentage) against the American League West in that time frame while going 78-84 (a .481 winning percentage) against the American League East. 

None of that seems all that surprising. The Rangers have been competitive in now three straight years, having led the American League West for a cumulative 321 days over those seasons, so it makes sense that they would have a superior record against their own divisional foes.

The fact that they've struggled against the American League East isn't news simply because the American League East has harbored three of the better teams in baseball over the last several years including the team that represented the American League in the World Series in 2008, the World Series Champions in 2009, the team with the best record in the American League in 2010, and currently the team with the best record in the American League in 2011. The success of the Phillies and Braves are the only thing keeping the American League East from being a runaway for best recent division in baseball.

And then there's the American League Central. The American League Central is often not regarded as the worst division in recent baseball only because, I assume, people are worried about offending Ozzie Gullien or the National League Central. The fact that the Rangers have won only at a .545 clip against the Central is mildly disappointing mostly because it seems like opportunities were wasted against lesser opponents. I assume it can be chalked up to the Tigers and Twins playing in stadiums the Rangers can't seem to win in, but the fact remains, the Rangers have played about as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks have played this season against the American League Central over the last few seasons.

This season, however, the Rangers are 16-11 against the Central (a .592 clip) which is more in line with what you hope for from a team looking to contend with the best teams in baseball. Over the next two weeks, starting tonight, the Rangers play ten of the next 13 games against American League Central opponents. And while a few season's worth of random data doesn't really mean much of anything over these four games against the Twins, the opportunity to play against the American League Central is an opportunity the Rangers need to take advantage of.

Monday, July 25 7:05: RHP Actual Size Nick Blackburn vs. LHP Derek Holland

Tuesday, July 26 7:05: RHP Carl Pavano vs. LHP C.J. Wilson

Wednesday, July 27 7:05: LHP Brian Duensing vs. RHP Colby Lewis

Thursday, July 28 7:05: RHP Scott Baker vs. LHP Matt Harrison

It has come to my attention that Minnesota is the "Most Hipster State in the U.S." As judged by that deeply criteria, in case you were wondering. So, if you were curious as to what Joe Mauer was doing staring at you on the side of every thread, it's because he wants to make sure you see that he's silently sending you judgmental thoughts about how you didn't "get" that last Animal Collective album while wondering if he could squad down and catch in skinny jeans and if it would look cool enough to post on his tumblr. 

Those boos in Minnesota for the Mauer? Totally ironic. They do the wave because hating the wave is lamer than doing the wave. There's a reason the Minnesota Wild's colors are basically the color of a plaid shirt. Is there anything worse (And therefore better) than lutefisk? Their football team wears purple and they don't care what you think about it. (But they REALLY want you to care about what they think about it!) The Lakers were better when they were the Land of 10,000 Lakers. Kevin Love was better when he was George Mikan. "You guys actually eat your walleye not from a stick? What do you use, your hands?" "Prince? *rolls eyes* P.O.S represents me."

Texas is middle of the pack when it comes to hipster-ness, according to that website, and held back likely only because Nolan Ryan doesn't put up with that mess.


Minnesota Twins (47-54, 4th Place AL Central)

Rangers' 2011 Record vs. Twins: (1-3 All at Target Field)

Minnesota's Recent Results: 1-3 Series loss against the Detroit Tigers

Minnesota's Road Record: 21-29

Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 120/109 - wOBA: 103/106

SB Nation Twins Blog: Twinkie Town

Match-up: (as of 7/24)        Rangers  Twins Advantage
74.5 61.5 Rangers
Overall RAR + UZR 150.2 5.6 Rangers!

Questions to Answer:

  • Can you believe the Rangers don't have the worst bullpen in a series? It's pretty tremendous.
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in bullpen appearances in this series? (I'll hope for Yoshi but say Feliz because that means the Rangers have probably won a bunch of these games.)
  • Over/Under: 19.5 runs scored by the Rangers in this series?
  • Who do you feel is most likely to pitch another shutout against the Rangers? (I rank it in this order: Baker, Duensing, Pavano, and Blackburn but that probably means that order should be reversed.)
  • Least favorite stadium to watch the Rangers play in over the years: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Target Field, Kingdome, Comerica Park, Tropicana Field, or other?