Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why the Rangers will win the World Series

By Chris Ruddick

Philadelphia, PA - The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees were widely viewed as the two best teams in baseball this season. Well guess what? The Texas Rangers disposed of both of them on their way to their first-ever World Series appearance.

And I don't think the San Francisco Giants are the team to derail the Rangers from a championship here in the 106th edition of the Fall Classic.

There is not much this Rangers team can't do. They hit the ball a ton, their bullpen is phenomenal, and they run the bases better and as aggressively as any team I have seen in some time.

And, oh yeah, they have this guy named Cliff Lee.

After a tremendous postseason run with the Philadelphia Phillies a year ago, all Lee has done in these playoffs has gone 3-0 with a 0.75 earned run average in his three starts.

With his win in Game 3 against the Yankees, Texas' midseason acquisition became the third pitcher in MLB history to win his first seven playoff decisions and is the first pitcher with three games of 10-plus punchouts in one postseason.

"What I attribute my success in the post season to is confidence, relying on my routine, playing on a really good team, having a really good offense to lean on, Bengie Molina," Lee said. "Those are a lot of the reasons. But I think mostly it's probably just confidence and going out there and expecting to be successful, and what allows me to do that is my routine. I've proven to myself over and over that it works, and eventually it becomes what you rely on to make you successful, and that's where I'm at."

Lee's career ERA of 1.26 in the postseason is also good for third best all- time. Simply put he is becoming a postseason legend and could elevate himself into a different stratosphere with another solid series.

Not bad for a guy who is about to become a free agent in a few weeks.

Also, Lee has beaten the Giants all three times he has faced them and has pitched to a 1.13 ERA in doing so. I expect him to set the tone right away in Game 1 and take whatever home field advantage the Giants think they may have.

The Rays couldn't hit Lee. The Yankees couldn't hit him. Do you really think the likes of Juan Uribe, Freddy Sanchez or Edgar Renteria are going to get to him?

But it hasn't just been Lee. C.J. Wilson has pitched well in two of his three postseason starts and Colby Lewis beat the Yankees twice and has pitched to a 1.45 ERA in three starts.

Sure you can make the case that Philadelphia had better overall pitching than the Rangers and the Giants found a way to beat them. True, but the Phillies did not hit in the NLCS. That is the only reason they lost that series.

That is not going to be a problem for the Rangers. By the way, can you believe we have gotten this far without mentioning Texas' offense?

For years, this was a hit-first, pitch-second team. Well, while that is not the case anymore, the Rangers still can score runs with the best of them, as evident by the fact that all four of their wins over the Yankees came by five or more runs and they have played just a single one-run game this postseason.

What makes the Rangers so dangerous, though, is their ability on the basepaths. Sure they can hit the home run and score in bunches, but everyone on their team takes pride in stealing bases, or stretching a single into a double, moving a guy over, or just taking an extra base at the right time.

ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton is at the center of the offense. After hitting a mere .143 in the ALDS Hamilton hit .350 against the Yanks with three home runs and seven RBI. It is safe to say that Hamilton, the front-runner for the AL MVP award, is back at 100-percent after missing 24 games in September with fractured ribs.

But it is not just Hamilton.. Nelson Cruz can hit, Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus. The lineup is relentless and will be too much for San Francisco to handle. Regardless of who is pitching.

"I've had to face them over the years and it's not a lot of fun," said Lee. "When you start pitching around Josh Hamilton and then you're staring at Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, it's not a lot of fun, because it's a very powerful lineup.

"I feel like I could fill that lineup every day and throw it out there. I mean, it's a winner."

Bottom line is there is not much these Rangers can't do and they will be celebrating sometime next week.

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