Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 10:09 AM
Baseball bettors have every reason to love the Texas Rangers right now. The Rangers are the biggest moneymaker in baseball. Based on $100 bets for each game, Texas is (+$1,989) against the moneyline this year. The futures market has caught up with the game-to-game results. Texas is now posted at 11-1 to win the World Series, the best of any American League team, moving past the Boston Red Sox.
The game-to-game moneylines will follow the futures market, meaning there won't be nearly as many days of Texas being available at a great price - there's a reason the Chicago Cubs aren't the best moneymaker and it's because the line is stacked against them. Smart investors have to ask themselves whether now is the time to start selling on the Rangers.
Let's first look at how Texas has reached their 39-25 record and built a 4½ game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. The Rangers have pretty good balance. They're third in the American League in runs scored and sixth in ERA. They play in a hitter's park and have a steady veteran ace in Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation. On the surface, it's easy to make the case that the good times can keep rolling.
It's when you dig into the details that the picture becomes murkier. Texas has gotten excellent hitting from its corner outfielers, Nomar Mazar and Ryan Rua. The 21-year-old Mazara has a .363 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage. Rua, 26-years-old, is at .366 and .480.
These are two talented young players, and we don't mean to cast aspersions on their ability to have good, long careers. But when a team becomes a favorite or co-favorite, a more jaundiced eye has to put on its best producers. Are baseball bettors ready to rely on unproven talent over the long, hot summer months? Even one of the veterans enjoying a good year, centerfielder Ian Desmond, has been up and down through his career and he eventually fizzled in Washington.
If these hitters decline is there anyone else likely to step up? Adrian Beltre, as reliable as anyone at third base, is having a nice year - he's slugging .462 - but it's not off the charts. Beltre is a ferocious competitor and hungry for his first World Series ring and it's not unreasonable to hope he could lift his production further still when the crunch point of the season arrives. Mitch Moreland has hit 10 home runs, but the first baseman has done little else. He's had a career arc similar to Desmond in its ups and downs and a nice hot streak in the summer wouldn't be out of character.
But the long-term success of the offense likely rides on whether Prince Fielder can find a cure for what ails him. The designated hitter is only 32-years-old and should have several good years left, but performs as though he's on the brink of retirement. The power has been non-existent and he's hitting sub-.200 at this writing. Do you believe Fielder can again be a really good power hitter and run producer, at least for 2-3 months? How you answer that question will go a long way to determining how you feel about Texas as an investment.
The focus has been put on the offense, because the pitching for now seems pretty straightforward. The rotation is decent behind Hamels, but it has its holes. The hoped-for return of Yu Darvish appears to have ended before it began with a shoulder injury. Martin Perez is a good young starter. Colby Lewis is probably pitching beyond himself right now, while Derek Holland has underachieved. Lump them all together and the percentages say things will play out the rest of the year as they have to date.
The bullpen is a serious problem - Shawn Tolleson collapsed at closer and was replaced by Sam Dyson. While Dyson has been effective, his promotion weakens the rest of the pen which has only has Jake Diekman as a reliable arm.
There are good reasons to be skeptical of Texas, at least in the favorite's role. There's too much unproven talent carrying the offense and the bullpen is ill-suited to survive the long summer haul. It doesn't mean the Rangers aren't good - their moneymaking performance to date proves that. But be smart with the spots you buy.