Diamond Hoggers Sunday Sermon: There's a new Sheriff in Town

We want to talk about the Texas Rangers this week. Fresh off three wins in a row they enter play today at 30-19 (that’s a .612 clip) and 5.5 games in first place ahead of the Angels who are sitting at .500 for the year.

The Rangers are winning because of their lineup. It’s no mystery. They have guys who can flat out rake 1 through 9. What’s scary is that their best hitter Josh Hamilton hasn’t even really begun to hit yet, as he’s still hanging around in the .230’s.

If Nelson Cruz keeps up his current pace all year (not safe to assume) he’s going to be an MVP candidate. But it’s not just Cruz. They’re getting offense from anyone who hits in their lineup. They have different leaders in the three main offensive stat categories. Micheal Young leads the team in average (.332). Cruz leads the team in homers (14). Ian Kinsler leads the team in RBI with 39. The team is also getting significant contributions from Marlon Byrd (.299), Elvis Andrus (.289), Hank Blalock (12 home runs), and Chris Davis (12 home runs). Even Andruw Jones is hitting .284 with 5 homers in a reserve role. This was a guy who the team was trying to get rid of at any cost in spring training.

Is anyone going to take notice of what closer Frank Francisco is doing right now? The man hasn’t allowed a run in 17.2 innings this season, 11 of 11 in save chances. He has 18 strikeouts to just 5 base on balls allowed. Darren O’ Day (1.35 ERA) and CJ Wilson have been remarkable out of the pen. Kevin Millwood is the starter with the most ability on the staff. He’s been a bull because a 3.25 ERA in that park is as good of a 2.00 ERA anywhere else.

They’re going to have to fight to stay on top because their pitching isn’t great. But it’s liberating to see a team slug their way to the top and that’s literally what this group has done. It’s fun to sit back and watch with no vested interest; a team with no postseason experience try and make the cut for the first time. And trying to make their way in such an unconventional method.

These Rangers have staying power. As unorthodox as they may be built, someone in that lineup is going to have an answer almost every night. When multiple guys get hot a lot of games will be over by the 5th inning. As the weather heats up and the mercury climbs to over 100 as it so often does in Texas in June, July and August; it should only further the offensive contributions of this home run hotbed near Dallas.

Make no mistake about it, the Texas Rangers are the new sheriffs in MLB. They’re bringing to justice anyone and everyone who offers them a fastball to hit. They don’t discriminate.

Song that needs played on loud speakers at a ballpark near you:

She Drives Me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals

Fantasy Player about to boom:

David Price. You thought this guy was too young to be a factor? You thought wrong. Yesterday, in just 5 and 2/3 innings of work, Price struck out 11 Minnesota Twins hitters and walked just two, allowing 1 earned run on five hits and lowering his season ERA to 3.00; and if he keeps this up it’s going to keep going lower. It’s easy to see that Price is going to be one of those guys who bursts on the scene ahead of the learning curve. If you stashed him on your roster until now, you might have struck gold.

Fantasy Player(s) about to bust:

For one, Grady Sizemore. At week’s beginning, we were scrambling to pull together a trade for the perennial All-Star because he’s just got to pick it up, right? I mean he’s Grady Sizemore. He dabbled with a few hits here and there, even homering yesterday off CC Sabathia in Cleveland. And now he’s on the disabled list. The way things are going in Cleveland, this really might last all year.

Randy Johnson. The Big Unit is just one win away from 300. He’s 4-4 with a 5.71 ERA and a really nice strikeout number of 54 K’s. But he’s reached the complete end of the line. It’s amazing to think that for almost 15 years this guy has been some type of fantasy baseball factor. We honestly don’t expect the unit to finish with too many wins over 300 for his career. He’ll get that milestone win sometime soon, and he’ll fade into oblivion. You need to dump him fast if you own him after he gets that 300th win.

Quote of the Week: “It truly is remarkable to watch Justin do what he does,” Byrnes says. “He is probably the best athlete in major league baseball. If all players were lined up for a race, he would probably be one of the five fastest. He’s going to be a Gold Glove outfielder, and it won’t be long from now. He cannot remain under the radar for long.” –Arizona DiamondBacks GM Josh Byrnes on Justin Upton, who entered into Saturday’s game seventh in batting at .337, fourth in OPS at 1.030, fourth in total bases and third in extra-base hits.

Gameday dipper’s choice of the week:

Hawken wintergreen. This is some of the nastiest shit ever put in chewable form. I mean, even in terms of dip it’s nasty. In college I tried it once. It was hideous. It’s more akin to some type of tree bark instead of even mulch. It was offered to be by some hillbilly fraternity brother who grew up in a town with a population of about 35. Ah, those were the days. You won’t really see this brand of chew offered in gas stations where you’re located, since if you’re reading this you have internet connection.

Games of Note of the upcoming week:
Monday: Cincinnati Reds (Volquez) at St. Louis Cardinals (Wellemeyer). The Reds need to continue to play the NL central tough after dropping the first two games in Milwaukee. They’ll face four right handers in St. Louis beginning with Wellemeyer and finishing with Chris Carpenter. A huge series for the Reds and it will be without recently DL’d Joey Votto. < /span>

Tuesday: Arizona Dbacks (Haren) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Wolf). This game at Chavez Ravine has all the makings of a 2-1 victory for someone. Randy Wolf has been lights out and Danny Haren is a tough customer. The Dbacks have been playing better of late. The Dodgers cannot take them lightly.

Wednesday: Boston Red Sox (Beckett) at Detroit Tigers (Galaragga). Josh Beckett is having an awful quiet year. Both of these teams desperately need wins as they’re starting to feel teams on their tails. The Tigers simply need Armando Galaragga to pitch better if they expect to hang onto their lead in the AL Central.

Friday: Kansas City Royals (Greinke) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Romero). This could be the pitching matchup of the week. Greinke has finally given the Royals something to be prominent about. Ricky Romero has the best stuff of any Blue Jays pitcher despite his young age. The Jays have been sliding of late. This weekend series is pivotal for both teams who are trying to stay in the hunt.