On May 22nd, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim found themselves eight games behind the AL West Division leading Texas Rangers.

Since that date, the following has happened to the Angels:

  • Outfielder Mike Trout has put up a .402 OBP, .588 SLG, .990 OPS.
  • First baseman Albert Pujols has put up a .390 OBP, .638 SLG, 1.028 OPS.
  • Starting pitcher Jered Weaver has a 1.75 ERA and a 3.11 K:BB ratio.
  • Right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke has come over in a trade.
  • The team has allowed an average of 4.6 runs a game, while scoring 5.2 runs a game.

Meanwhile, since May 22nd, the following has happened to the Rangers:

  • Outfielder Josh Hamilton has put up a .310 OBP, .471 SLG, .781 OPS.
  • First baseman Michael Young has put up a .301 OBP, .321 SLG, .622 OPS.
  • Starting pitcher Yu Darvish has a 5.53 ERA and a 2.10 K:BB ratio.
  • Right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster has come over in a trade.
  • The team has allowed an average of 4.9 runs a game, while scoring 4.8 runs a game.

And yet, despite all of these admittedly cherry-picked, but nonetheless important comparisons, the Angels currently sit seven and a half games back of the division leading Rangers.

Somehow, despite two players playing at an MVP caliber level and a pitcher performing like a Cy Young Award winner, the Los Angeles Angels have only managed to gain a half game on the Texas Rangers, who have had below replacement level production from their first baseman while witnessing a steep declines in the value offered by their best position player and best pitcher. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that the Rangers have had half their starting rotation miss significant time due to injury.

Over the last three months, Texas has depended on its offense, and strange sources of offense at that, to remain atop the division. In June, David Murphy and Craig Gentry, in platoon roles, combined to offer more than three wins above replacement. In July, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli showed up after being dormant for large chunks of the season. And now, in August, we’ve seen Cruz continue his hot streak while the normally light hitting Elvis Andrus continues to avoid outs and actually collect some extra base hits in the process.

We’ve joked in the past about General Manager Jon Daniels purposely building a bullpen that not even Ron Washington could mess up, but perhaps that’s not giving full credit where it’s due. Texas, as it’s currently assembled, is almost a fool proof team, built to weather not only the peculiarities of a manager who insists on playing Michael Young, but also the slumps and bumps that a 162 game schedule provides.

Certainly, luck has played a part in the Rangers not falling from atop the standings, but in many ways, it’s luck that the organization’s roster construction has made for itself. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a Spartan army holding rank. When one falls, another is right behind to take his place.

And The Rest

How Major League Baseball blew it with its 2012 playoff structure. [Hit And Run]

An intelligent take on Jeff Passan’s most recent article on the turmoil between Bobby Valentine and the Boston Red Sox roster. [Over The Monster]

Jeremy Guthrie? Jeremy Guthrie! [Baseball Prospectus]

Not surprisingly, Brandon Inge will be spending some time on the Disabled List after this. [MLB.com]

Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Belt avenged the San Francisco Giants’ blow out loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night. [Bay City Ball]

The San Diego Padres and the non-rebuilding plan. [Baseball Nation]

Jose Molina, Jesus Montero and pitch framing. [Lookout Landing]

Would you ask Ben Zobrist to bunt with two on and none out in the top of the tenth with Evan Longoria due up next? [The Book Blog]

Outfielder Jay Bruce led the Cincinnati Reds to a walk-off win last night. [Red Reporter]

This is the view from the other side of Bruce’s home run, as the New York Mets lost a heartbreaker last nigh. [Amazin' Avenue]

A Minor League Baseball game was delayed by court order. [Telegram.com]

Comparing Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke to legendary Baltimore Orioles skipper and link dump name sake Earl Weaver. [Disciples Of Uecker]

How good is Jeff Samardzija’s splitter? [FanGraphs]

Finally, Lucas Harrell did his thing for the Houston Astros last night, and the lineup responded. [Ultimate Astros]