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Texas is four back in the West, one back in the Wild Card

All of the sudden, the Rangers are within striking distance in the playoff race

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Don't look now, but the Rangers are actually turning into a legitimate contender in the American League playoff chase...

Texas is just four back of Houston for first place in the A.L. West (and a half-game back of the Angels for second place):

And are only one game back of the second Wild Card spot in the A.L.:

(Also, look who is at the bottom...Oakland and Boston.  Heh.)

Anyway, someone recently mentioned that this team reminded them of the 2009 Rangers, a team that hung around in the playoff hunt into September before collapsing down the stretch (you might remember that string of five straight losses at home where they scored one run -- not one run per game, but one run, total, in that five game stretch).  The 2009 team had a significantly better record at this point than the 2015 team does, but as in 2009, we have a team that many dismissed before the season that is hanging around and making things interesting in the late summer.

In contrast to the National League, where nine teams are largely out of it, and there are six teams fighting for five spots (or seven teams, if you think the Nats can turn it around and catch the Mets for the division title), the A.L. has nine teams that are either in line for a playoff spot, or are within 2.5 games of a playoff spot.  We could see a repeat of 2013, where multiple teams are vying for playoff spots in the final weekend, and a play-in game (or a play-in game for a play-in game) could be necessary.

As things stand right now, Fangraphs gives the Rangers a 22% chance of making the playoffs, and BP has Texas with a 21.8% chance of making it.  Given where this team stood early in the season -- no Yu, no Holland, 9.5 games back in early May with an 8-16 record -- I feel pretty happy with where things stand now.

And after last year, I'm just happy that we're watching the scoreboard and playing some meaningful baseball in August.