According to 1 metric, the 2 finest groups within the American League are taking part in within the wild-card spherical this week. The winner will play the Orioles within the best-of-five American League Division Series starting Saturday.
While Tampa Bay and Texas ended the common season with data worse than the Orioles’ mark of 101-61, the Rays (99-63) and Rangers (90-72) sport run differentials a lot better than Baltimore’s.
The Orioles are tied with the Houston Astros for the circuit’s third-best run differential at plus-129, whereas the Rangers rank second at plus-165 behind the Rays’ plus-195. Those totals produce Pythagorean data, an estimate based mostly solely on run differential, of 94-68 for Baltimore, 96-66 for Texas and 100-62 for Tampa Bay.
Of course, run differentials and a method named after a Greek mathematician don’t resolve ballgames. The Orioles went 8-5 in opposition to the Rays this season, failing to lose a sequence to their AL East foe, and 3-3 versus the Rangers in two sequence performed earlier than June.
However, after the marathon that could be a 162-game season, run differential is oftentimes extra predictive of future success than a workforce’s precise report.
Either method, the figures simply go to show that the Orioles will face a formidable opponent within the ALDS, whether or not the Rangers or Rays show victorious within the best-of-three wild-card sequence.
But, if the Orioles may select, which workforce would they like to play?
Ahead of Game 1 between the Rangers and Rays on Tuesday, listed here are the arguments for Baltimore followers rooting for both workforce to advance to play the Orioles within the ALDS.
The argument for the Rangers being a greater matchup for the Orioles is probably a better one to make. Texas gained 9 fewer video games and had a worse run differential than the Rays. The Rangers are, primarily, the weaker workforce.
Compared with the Rays, the Rangers have a worse beginning rotation and a weaker bullpen. While their offense is best than Tampa Bay’s, it’s marginally so and doesn’t make up for the workforce’s deficiencies on the mound.
While the Orioles have fared nicely in opposition to top-line beginning pitching this season, these hurlers have outsized significance within the postseason. One or two elite starters can lead a workforce to a sequence win, and the Rangers don’t have these.
Their success this season has been despite accidents to former Cy Young winners Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the latter of whom they acquired on the commerce deadline. Jon Gray, a dependable starter in his second consecutive good 12 months with the Rangers, can also be on the injured record, though he may return for the ALDS.
That’s to not say, after all, that the Rangers have a nasty rotation. Their starters’ mixed 3.96 ERA is best than Baltimore’s 4.14. All-Star Nathan Eovaldi, left-hander Jordan Montgomery, Dane Dunning and supervisor Bruce Bochy’s selection for a fourth starter is much from a simple slate. But in contrast with AL Cy Young candidate Zach Eflin and fireballer Tyler Glasnow, the 2 right-handers on the prime of Tampa Bay’s rotation, Texas’ is perhaps the better job.
Tampa Bay’s bullpen can also be much better than Texas’. Despite a midseason addition of Aroldis Chapman, the Rangers’ aid corps has a 4.77 ERA this season that ranks twenty fourth within the majors and worst amongst playoff groups. In September, the Rays’ bullpen had a streak of 36 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, whereas Texas’ posted a 5.08 ERA.
The Rays are additionally taking part in maybe their finest baseball since their torrid 22-5 begin. They went 27-13 since Aug. 16, whereas the Rangers are 18-24 throughout that very same stretch.
The Orioles have already proved they will deal with the Rays. They went 8-5 in opposition to Tampa Bay and gained video games in myriad methods — from comebacks to outdueling the Rays to outhitting them.
Like the Rangers, the Rays are additionally with out a number of key items. Wander Franco, the Rays’ finest participant at simply 22 years previous, remains to be on administrative depart as Major League Baseball and the Dominican Republic examine an alleged relationship between Franco and a minor. Ace Shane McClanahan, a two-time All-Star, is out after present process Tommy John elbow reconstruction in August. Starters Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen are additionally out for the 12 months after present process elbow surgical procedures. Slugger Luke Raley, who hits in the midst of Tampa Bay’s order in opposition to right-handed beginning pitchers, and former Terps standout Brandon Lowe, the Rays’ beginning second baseman who changed Franco within the No. 2 gap, are additionally on the IL.
Those absences make the Rays’ rotation much less scary — having to face McClanahan, Springs, Eflin and Glasnow within the ALDS could be a troublesome impediment for any workforce — whereas additionally making their lineup a lot much less formidable than the Rangers.
What Texas would possibly lack on the pitching facet the membership has greater than made up for with the bats. The Rangers have the perfect offense within the AL with 881 runs scored, averaging 5.44 runs per sport — almost half a run greater than the Orioles. Their lineup is bolstered by AL Most Valuable Player candidate Corey Seager, whose 1.013 OPS ranks second behind solely the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani. Second baseman Marcus Semien has been one in all baseball’s most precious gamers within the majors with 7.4 wins above alternative, tied for fifth within the sport, based on Baseball-Reference. And slugger Adolis García leads the workforce with 39 homers and 107 RBIs.
Meanwhile, no participant on the Orioles has an OPS inside 198 factors of Seager’s, a WAR inside one win of Semien’s or a house run whole inside 10 of García’s. AL Rookie of the Year front-runner Gunnar Henderson is the closest with an .814 OPS, 6.3 WAR and 28 homers.
But the video games aren’t performed on paper, because the cliche goes. No matter who they play, the most important determinant of whether or not the Orioles transfer onto the ALCS is themselves.
ALDS, Game 1
Rays/Rangers at Orioles
TV: Fox or FS1
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM