September 4, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) hits a triple in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
(AL team gaining momentum)
Texas Rangers: Texas has opened up a two-game lead in the division after sweeping a four-game set against the Houston Astros last week. The Rangers have won 7 of their last 10 games, giving them the league’s best record over that span.
The resurgence of Shin-Soo Choo has helped carry the Rangers offense this month. Choo was deemed a bust after providing essentially replacement level value in his first season in Texas after signing a lucrative free agent contract. He seemed to have declined even further this year before turning it on in the second half of the season. So far in September he is slashing .423/.543/.592, raising his season numbers to a respectable level and giving him a 120 OPS+ for the year. His 2.5 WAR indicates he has actually provided enough value to live up to the $14 million he’ll earn this year, although he’ll have difficulty keeping up with his contract when his salary jumps to $20+ million in each of the next five seasons.
Texas still has to make another trip to Houston this weekend in a series that could either help them pull away or turn the tides of this race in the Astros favor. The good news for Texas is that they finish the season with their final 7 games at home, while Houston finishes with 6 games on the road. While the Astros have a league-high 51 wins at home, they are only 29-46 on the road this season.