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Rangers, Yankees Look Like Mirror Images at Break

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When the American League starting lineup is announced on Tuesday night, you're probably going to detect a rhythm to the proceedings.

    You're going to hear "from the Rangers" and "from the Yankees" quite a bit because each team has three players in the lineup. That's fitting, since they are the two best teams in baseball at the break. The Yankees have a half-game edge on the Rangers with both teams winning more than 60 percent of their games, something that no other teams have managed to pull off this season.

    It's not particularly surprising to find things lined up this way at the halfway point of the season. They've been to the last three World Series, after all. What's interesting is that both teams have gotten to this point in pretty similar fashion.

    You need only look to the local media coverage and fan response for each team to see how closely things have played out. Both teams have had their flaws blown up to massive sizes while their strengths (and the fact that they have been awfully successful this season) are taken for granted after years of success.

    The stories in each place should be about how the teams haven't missed a beat despite things going far differently than imagined back in March. The Rangers have lost three-fifths of their rotation to the disabled list while the Yankees lost Michael Pineda before he threw a pitch and closed the half with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the injury rolls.

    Look at Boston and Philadelphia to see what happens to most teams that have to play shorthanded and then look again at the two records. It's impressive that both teams have stayed the course and a testament to the job done by Brian Cashman and Jon Daniels in using the ample resources at their disposal to put together organizations deep enough to weather storms.

    The bullpens tell that story. Losing Mariano Rivera to a torn ACL has no companion nightmare for the Rangers, but Alexi Ogando's absence would hurt a lot of teams. But the depth of the Yankees, who also played without David Robertson for a long stretch, and Rangers has bailed them out time after time.

    Offensively, things are pretty similar. Robinson Cano and Josh Hamilton have both spent time as AL MVP of the moment, Russell Martin and Michael Young are both having horrific offensive seasons and there's a sense that both teams have higher ceilings than they've shown to this point.

    No other American League teams have shown the same depth or consistency as these two have shown in the first three-plus months and teams that looked as good on paper -- the Tigers, Red Sox, Ray and Angels -- haven't proven to be in the same class.

    There's a lot of baseball still to be played, of course, but there's plenty of reason to believe these two teams are going to stay on the same trajectory when regular play resumes. That would put them on a crash course with one another, something that doesn't sound like too bad an idea right about now.