MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of Division Series rosters.After qualifying for the postseason during the final series of the regular season last year, the Texas Rangers left little doubt about their postseason chances in 2016, as they led the
MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the playoff teams was built, looking at the composition of Division Series rosters.
After qualifying for the postseason during the final series of the regular season last year, the Texas Rangers left little doubt about their postseason chances in 2016, as they led the division for the final 126 days of the regular season en route to winning their second straight American League West title.
How the postseason teams were built
The Rangers finished with an AL-best 95-67 record, thanks largely to a 54-36 first half and a .654 winning percentage at home, to secure home-field advantage for the duration of the postseason. The club posted a winning record in all but one month, and claimed 47 victories within the division, tallying 15 wins against Houston, 12 against Seattle and 10 apiece versus the A's and Angels.
Though the Rangers once again were beset with injuries in 2016, with Shin-Soo Choo, Yu Darvish and Prince Fielder spending a combined 267 days on the disabled list, the club had a slew of players step up in their absences, which set the stage for Texas to add several key pieces at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Meanwhile, the Rangers demonstrated a season-long flair for the dramatic by coming from behind to win on 49 occasions, highlighted by eight walk-off wins.
"I think the culture of the team, thanks to the leadership of [manager Jeff Banister], his staff and our veteran players, really played a big part in our success this year, and also in a lot of the individual success we had," said Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels.
"There's a unique accountability and chemistry that goes on with the guys pushing each other and holding each other to higher standards, and everyone wants to do their part."
Here's a look at how each player on the Rangers' Division Series roster was initially acquired during his current stint with the club:
Player, how acquired, year
Alex Claudio, Draft, 2010 (27th)
Jared Hoying, Draft, 2010 (10th)
Yu Darvish, Int'l, 2012
Keone Kela, Draft, 2012 (12th)
Nomar Mazara, Int'l sign, 2011
Mitch Moreland, Draft, 2007 (17th)
Rougned Odor, Int'l sign, 2011
Martin Pérez, Intl' sign, 2007
Jurickson Profar, Int'l sign, 2009
Ryan Rua, Draft, 2011 (17th)
Led by Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, the Rangers' 2011 international class proved crucial towards the team's success this season. Odor, 22, took the next step toward superstardom as he paced the Rangers with 33 home runs and ranked second with 88 RBIs. More important, he only improved as the season played out.
"I think we're still scratching the surface with Rougie," said Daniels. "He's never lacked confidence and he's always had that unique blend of bat speed and hand-eye ability, so it's been fun to see him put it all together this season."
Texas called up Mazara from Triple-A Round Rock in late April when Shin-Soo Choo hit the disabled, and the then-20-year-old responded to the challenge by going 3-for-3 with a home run in his big league debut. He would never return to the Minors, ultimately playing in 145 games.
"In an ideal world, Nomar would have been a September callup," noted Daniels. "But here he is with a .739 OPS and 20 bombs in the big leagues. What stands out is how mature he is, which is part of the reason why he was so embraced by his teammates. He's always been mature beyond his years."
Darvish returned from Tommy John surgery in May to post a 3.41 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings (17 starts). More important, his pairing with Cole Hamels gave the club arguably the best Nos. 1 and 2 starters in the Majors.
"We acquired Cole with the thought of pairing him and Yu together this year. We knew we'd have a good shot with those guys starting 40 percent of our games," Daniels said.
"With Yu, you can count the number of starters on one hand who have his type of ability and mix of pitches. The pure dominance of his stuff is off the chart -- there just aren't many guys in that category," he added.
Player, year, acquired from
Elvis Andrus, 2007, Braves
Carlos Beltrán, 2016, Yankees
Robinson Chirinos, 2013, Rays
Jake Diekman, 2015, Phillies
Sam Dyson, 2015, Marlins
Cole Hamels, 2015, Phillies
Jeremy Jeffress, 2016, Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy, 2016, Brewers
Daniel's Trade Deadline acquisitions for 2015 proved crucial to the Rangers' success this season. Four-time All-Star and ace Hamels paced the staff with 15-5 record -- giving him a 22-6 record since joining the organization -- and a 3.32 ERA while logging 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings for a seventh straight year.
"With [Hamels], the count-on factor, the steadiness, the high-quality combined with the consistency is something that's hard to find in the game," said Daniels. "From a credibility standpoint for our staff, having someone like Cole leading the way is big. And when you add a guy like that, the clubhouse seems to pick up -- there's a confidence level that comes when you have a true top-of-the-rotation guy with some pedigree for the big games.
Sam Dyson, acquired from the Marlins, and Jake Diekman, who came over from the Phillies in the Hamels deal, paced the Rangers' bullpen with 73 and 66 appearances, respectively, with the former also saving 38 of 43 games in his first season as a full-time closer.
This year's Trade Deadline saw Daniels bolster his club's roster with even more high-end talents, with deals for Carlos Beltran, acquired from the Yankees, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who came over from Milwaukee along Jeremy Jeffress after previously declining a trade to Cleveland.
"Our focus was really to add a starter at midseason," Daniels said. "But that wasn't there, so we adjusted on the fly and just tried to find the pieces that fit us best.
"From an offensive standpoint, we're an aggressive-swinging bunch. So by adding Lucroy and Beltran, two guys we've tried to acquire in the past, we gained two patient hitters who can grind out at-bats. It's helped to create a real good balance in the lineup."
The Rangers' offense also received a boost from a resurgent Elvis Andrus, who, after a career-worst 2015 campaign, set career highs in batting average, OPS, home runs and RBIs in what was the best season of his eight-year career.
"[Elvis] made some meaningful changes at the plate to capitalize on his naturaly ability. We've always felt that there was more in there offensively, and he's tapping into it now," noted Daniels.
Tony Barnette, 2015
Adrián Beltré, 2011
Matt Bush, 2015
Shin-Soo Choo, 2013
Ian Desmond, 2016
Carlos Gómez, 2016
Colby Lewis, 2010
The Rangers signing of Ian Desmond to a one-year, $8 million deal as an outfielder in February was, at the time, met with some backlash. Now, after an All-Star campaign that saw him post a .782 OPS with 22 homers and 21 steals, it's widely considered to be one of the better free agent signings of the past year.
"We didn't view signing Ian as a big risk," noted Daniels. "We felt lucky to be in a position where he was still available and thought it was great value getting a player of that caliber so late in the year. And it wasn't long before we realized that he was going to make a quick transition to the outfield."
Along with Adrian Beltre, the duo helped to pace the Rangers' offense from start to finish, combining for 54 home runs and 190 RBIs. Meanwhile, the signing of Carlos Gomez, in the wake of his release by Houston, gave the club another impact talent for the stretch run.
The emergence of right-handed reliever Matt Bush was one of the more uplifting stories of the 2016 season. The former 2004 No. 1 overall pick overcame a host of off-the-field and legal problems to become a crucial high-leverage arm in the Rangers' bullpen, posting a 2.48 ERA over 58 games after making his big league debut on May 13 at age 30. 32-year-old rookie Tony Barnette, signed last offseason out of Japan, also made a considerable impact by logging 53 appearances.
"Matt Bush has an amazing story, and he might have the best arm in our bullpen," Daniels said. "Each guy in our bullpen has a unique story and is a product of good scouting and good development. We wanted guys with power arms with different approaches and different looks."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.