This season, the Rangers will not go away in the pennant race. Because I respect the Angels, I will not predict the Rangers will win the pennant. I do predict the Rangers will doggedly hang around in September. What if Vlad Guerrerro goes down...?
What helps the Rangers is their depth: it creates competition. Everyone knows they must excel, b/c everyone can name their replacement who is kicking derriere at either AAA or AA. Everyone HAS to be plucky, or they get to be unplucky in OKC.
What also helps is the unheralded yet outstanding job Ian Kinsler is doing as the leadoff hitter. The Rangers have almost never had a true leadoff hitter. Kinsler is that guy. He's making an important contribution.
Also not as praised as it should be: Milton Bradley is coming up huge as the clean-up hitter.
I did not expect Josh Hamilton to be this good. I think he's legit.
I did not expect David Murphy to be this good. I don't know what to think about him. I need a larger sample size.
I did not expect Ramon Vasquez to be this good - either in the field or at bat. I don't know what to think about him. Again need a larger sample size.
I've suspected, for a long time, Chris Shelton might be a serious hitter. After a slow start, he is showing his ability. I will spout profanity if he is sacrificed on the altar of Ron Washington's obsession with Marlon Byrd.
Catalanotto is unquestionably one of the top 9 hitters on this team. And yet, if they are going to keep Marlon Byrd, they should trade Catalanotto for a low minors prospect, and let Chris Shelton's career play out in Arlington. You do not yet fully know what Shelton is. He might be Frank Thomas-ish ... with a better glove ... and the flexibility to back up at both Catcher and Right Field.