Six Takeaways from the Rangers’ and Diamondbacks’ Playbook
Photo credit:© Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
1 month ago
The World Series stage has been set and just as everyone expected, the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will be facing off against each other this weekend.
The intriguing part of this story is that both teams lost more than 100 games two years ago and recorded losing seasons in 2022. Their regular season win-loss records in 2023 weren’t mindblowing either with the Rangers recording 90-72 and the Diamondbacks recording 84-78. But after blazing through each of the playoff stages despite everyone’s doubts, both teams certainly have takeaways to share with the Blue Jays on how to make it all the way.
So, how did the Rangers and the Diamondbacks get to set the stage for the most improbable World Series? Below are some key elements that factored into their tickets to the World Series:
They generated RBIs when it mattered
Situational scoring was something both the Rangers and the Diamondbacks have been fantastic at throughout their postseason run thus far. Sure, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies hit more RBIs this postseason, but what these numbers don’t indicate is how often these RBIs led to lead changes or tie games. Regardless of the overall RBIs, the Rangers and the Diamondbacks consistently scored after putting their runners on base. Let’s not forget that the stats on hitting with runners in scoring position are filled with noise but both teams cut through that noise effectively by being selective with their pitches and doing the most damage when it mattered.
They created chaos on basepaths
Good baserunning from the Rangers and the Diamondbacks changed the complexion of the postseason games. Even if the opponents were in the lead, both teams made sound baserunning decisions and were able to executive them flawlessly for the most part. Most of these decisions were related to stolen bases and both teams cashed in more runs because their runners stole bases wisely and aggressively. This is not to say that both teams always made perfect and clean baserunning decisions. Ultimately, these successful stolen bases gave the Rangers and the Diamondbacks a huge advantage, especially during their respective Championship Series.
Their pitching was clutch from top to bottom
Elite hitting definitely wins postseason games. There’s no debate around that and Rangers have proved this point time and time again throughout their postseason journey. However, pitching also matters when it comes to winning games. By and large, the Rangers’ pitching gave performances of their lives by preventing their opponents from scoring runs and their postseason ERA and WHIP showcase that. In contrast, the Diamondbacks have somewhat unimpressive stats in pitching but their bullpen successfully held up the lead or maintained a tie game to give their lineup a chance to strike back. Investing and trusting in pitching is worth it no matter what the numbers say. Look at the Rangers’ and Diamondbacks’ bullpens. These pens provided some unclutch performances during the regular season but they stepped up during the postseason to give the performances of their lifetime. And this leads nicely to the next takeaway.
Lady luck has been on their side
Believe it or not, luck is a big factor in baseball. But giving credit to the luck factor would be a big mistake because there are players and coaches who devise and implement effective strategies and that’s a bigger part of the game too. That being said, if luck wasn’t on their side, things could have gone sideways also. What if a pitcher accidentally deflects the comebacker and sends the ball past the fielders and a reliever gives up bloop singles three times in a row? These small things could have easily changed the course of the game and the Rangers and the Diamondbacks both have benefitted from luck to some degree.
Their opponents cooled off at the right time
Before the Astros and the Phillies each faced the Rangers and the Diamondbacks in a championship series respectively, both teams looked invincible. Their offence was providing healthy run support while their pitching limited the number of runs opponents scored. Both teams actually overpowered the Rangers and Diamondbacks at some point during the championship series, but their pitching faltered and lineups cooled off towards the end. The Phillies, who rely on vibes and the feel, couldn’t cash in any runs by the end of the series for their home games while the Astros didn’t win a single home game throughout the series. The two teams that looked likely to repeat their postseason success fell off the cliff, and the Rangers and Diamondbacks certainly took full advantage of that to get to the World Series. This really proves one thing: even the most indestructible team will inevitably fail sometimes and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Baseball isn’t supposed to make any sense
As much as we all love to rationalize certain outcomes and situations, it’s time to admit that baseball makes no sense at all sometimes. That’s why baseball can be exhilarating because it’s so unpredictable. As an example, the Diamondbacks performed worse than the Phillies in both hitting and pitching this postseason. In fact, the Phillies outperformed the Diamondbacks in stolen bases and home runs but they ended up losing the National League Championship Series by one game. No matter how cruel it is, that’s how baseball works and that’s the real beauty in this game.
Throughout this postseason, the Diamondbacks and Rangers have been the perennial underdogs challenging the Titans. Everyone counted these two teams, and yet, they came through every single game even if it didn’t make any sense. Who cares about stats on crowd noise, aura and mystique? All that mattered in the end was playing better than the opposing teams in specific games, and that’s what the Rangers and the Diamondbacks executed successfully. It’s not the complex things that win games; it’s the simple things that count.
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