Texas Weathers Strikeouts With Pitching, Defense

Texas is near dead-last in strikeouts in 2009, so why are they still in the division lead?

Despite the fact that the Rangers are still sitting on a three-game lead in the West, a disturbing trend is emerging, almost two months into the season.

If you've watched the Rangers this season, you've probably noticed. Texas is striking out at a rate that would make Adam Dunn shudder, and perhaps say, "That's rough."

The Rangers are currently second in the American League in strikeouts, behind Tampa Bay, with 370 in 46 games.

Chris Davis is on a dubious-record pace, with his 71 Ks; Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a similarly impressive 48, in only 36 games.

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Nelson Cruz is also in the Top 20 in the American League in strikeouts, at No. 19.

It seems that we're headed back to the days of feast or famine that all Texas fans know so well--too well, probably.

But not.

Texas is leading the Major Leagues, along with the Yankees, with 77 home runs. They are in the middle of the pack with respect to batting average (.269) and on base percentage (.327).

These mundane offensive numbers should have, if we were to believe the previews, spelled an ugly, ignominious year for Texas. How, then, are the Rangers leading the American League West?

The answer is as unusual as the question: pitching and defense. In the month of May, Texas is first in the league in ERA and tied for first in the league in fielding percentage with a .990 mark.

This is why Texas still has the lead in the west; this is why this season represents an absolute juxtaposition, where the Rangers' are winning because of pitching and defense--and, in some cases, only because of pitching and defense--and not in spite of it.

This is why Texas fans are left repeating a wholly unusual admonishment to their televisions each night: "If only we could get our offense going..."

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