Texas certainly loves its baseball, as most other sunny states do. Fortunately for Texans, they have two teams to choose from with the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. As always, these two are battling it out for supremacy in the AL West. As we are essentially one-third of the way through the season, it’s a great time to reflect on where these two teams currently stand.
Both the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are popular teams and have wide appeal outside of the state. In the US you can find Texas sports fans from coast to coast. For instance, if we look at a Bet365 sportsbook review, we can see that despite only serving New Jersey and Colorado patrons, they still have betting options for both of these teams. Currently, the Houston Astros appear to be heating up while the Texans are trying to get into a groove and secure consistent wins. Let’s take a look at Texas’ two MLB teams and see where they stand in the AL West.
The Rangers have certainly struggled to find their place in the AL West over the past few seasons. Last season was far from ideal as the Rangers finished dead last in their division with a record of 22-38. Thus far this season, the team is finding themselves in almost an identical place to where they were last time with a similar record of 23-39 at the time of this writing. MLB analysts consider them the #29 team out of 30 in the power rankings, definitely not what you want to see as a Rangers fan.
While some MLB commentators may be quick to write the Rangers off, we’ve seen a mixture of both good and bad elements from this team. The Rangers have especially struggled on the road, recently going 0-3 in their series versus the Rockies earlier this month. However, they did manage to win one game last Saturday over the Rays who are currently the best team in MLB.
There have certainly been some convincing wins mixed in with the hard fought losses that show what this team is capable of. This past May, the Rangers were on a tough six game losing streak that included four losses to the Astros. On May 18th, they were finally able to snap this streak with a big win over the Yankees. It appeared like the team was ready to bounce back, but instead they lost the following three games in the series.
The Rangers have the potential needed to excel in their division if they could just find their footing. No one can argue that there are some talented players on this squad. For instance, Joey Gallo is having another productive season with 11 home runs and an overall batting average of .210. Their recently added 1st baseman Nate Lowe is also having an exceptionally good season thus far with 8 home runs and a .241 average. Like a lot of teams, the Rangers have proved that they can get hot and string together wins at times. Unfortunately, they have a three-game series versus the LA Dodgers coming up and there will likely be no easy wins to harvest there.
Speaking from a completely impartial standpoint, it’s hard to imagine that the Astros won’t end the season as the better Texas team. In fact, there’s good odds that they end up taking the AL West overall. Their 33-26 record puts them just a few wins below the Oakland A’s at the current moment. Season to season, the Houston Astros are seemingly getting better and better and they are in the top 10 teams in the league.
Even despite injuries to crucial players like Framber Valdez, Forrest Whitley, and Alex Bregman, the Astros have made do and done well with their remaining lineup. The team is still going strong despite the adversity. Thus far we’ve seen some triumphant wins over very tough opponents. Houston defeated the defending World Series champions the Dodgers in a 5-2 performance at the end of May. They also have numerous wins against the Yankees, Rays, and Angels.
By this point, Houston has cemented their reputation for having a lot of good hitters in their bullpen. Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and many others are all crushing the ball every time they’re up to bat. What’s astounding is that the Astros are somehow still an overlooked team in the league. While teams like the Padres and the Dodgers get all the attention, the Astros are quietly stacking up wins and keeping their eyes focused on securing the division and entering the playoffs.
Looking ahead, the Astros have a very favorable schedule on the horizon. They must finish their series with the Red Sox before they head to Target Field for a three-game series versus the Minnesota Twins. After that, there are numerous other winnable games left in June, including six games versus the last place Baltimore Orioles and another four against the Detroit Tigers, who aren’t exactly having the best season either.
The AL West Picture
While the Astros and Rangers are busy fighting each other for the AL West, it’s important that they keep their other rivals in mind as well. The Oakland Athletics currently sit at the top of the division, but the Astros are quickly gaining on them. The A’s have had a terrific season thus far, with great performances by Matt Olson, Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano and many others. Most importantly, the A’s have been doing very well against their division rivals throughout the season.
As far as the rest of the division goes, both the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels have also been playing very consistently for the most part. While critics have been quick to share their negative opinions on the Angels recently, it doesn’t change the fact that they are a talented team and Mike Trout is still one of the best players alive. The Seattle Mariners are overlooked to a degree, but their 30-32 record shows they are at least a competitive team in their own right. If the Houston Astros or the Texas Rangers want to sweep the division, now is the time to start pulling ahead while the standings are still close.