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Top Ten (Objective) Moments In Rangers Playoff History

Just as a reminder before the Rangers play their 27th playoff game.

By Win Probability Added, these are the top 10 biggest moments in the history of Rangers' playoff games. WPA ignores what happened after the moment, and looks only at how the chances of winning were changed by the moment itself. It also ignores things like narratives and emotional effect that we would (and probably should) include in our personal lists like this. It also ignores how important the game itself is, so game one of the ALDS is treated just like game three of the World Series. The explanation of WPA can be found here.

Alright, caveats aside, now the list.

10. 1996, ALDS Game 3: The Rangers' first playoff series was tied 1-1 with Texas trailing the Yankees 3-2 in their home park. Future Ranger John Wetteland came in and faced DH Mickey Tettleton. Tettleton worked a walk, which sounds boring, but getting the tying run on with no outs is pretty significant. The result was still just a 38% Win Expectancy, but 14% Win Probability Added, but no one could capitalize and the Rangers lost the game. And the series.

9.  2010, ALCS Game 1: Such a memorable series began as such a nightmare. The Rangers blew a big game one lead against CC Sabathia and the Yankees. Like '96, Texas opened the ninth at home down one -- this time 6-5 -- and got the lead-off runner on. This time it was a single by Mitch Moreland, but the impact is the same: 38% Win Expectancy, and 14% Win Probability Added. Just like 1996, the Rangers bunted him over and then ended the game without anymore advancement. Fortunately, the series ended up much better this time.

8.  2010, ALDS Game 2: Fresh off the heels of their second playoff victory ever, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Michael Young came up with two on and one out in Tampa Bay. Young muscled a James Shields pitch to centerfield, turning a tight contest in to a blowout with a 92% Win Expectancy. The home run ended up not being necessary due to a shutout started by C.J. Wilson, but at the moment it was 15% Win Probability Added for the Rangers. At the time, this was one of the best things to ever happen to the Rangers. It got better from there.

7.  2010, ALCS Game 3: The Rangers set the table in the first inning for Josh Hamilton in New York, and Hamilton made Andy Pettitte pay with a two-run shot, starting the game off with 16% Win Probability Added, and a 76% Win Expectancy. Texas ended up with a dominant 8-0 victory and a 2-1 lead in the series.

6.  2010, ALDS Game 3: With no outs and none on in the bottom of the seventh, Ian Kinsler pulled a home run to break a 1-1 tie against the Rays. 19% Win Probability Added took the Rangers to 19% Win Expectancy, heading towards a sweep and their first post season series victory. Unfortunately, the Rangers wasted the home run and failed to hang on, losing the game.

5.  1996, ALDS Game 1: The Rangers first playoff game started with a 1-0 deficit to the Yankees, but all that changed with a three-run Juan Gonzalez home run in the top of the fourth, giving the Rangers 21% Win Probability Added, 71% Win Expectancy, and a lead they would never relinquish for their first post season victory.

4.  2010, ALCS Game 6: The hit that sent Rangers fans screaming around their living rooms. Fighting in a 1-1 tie with New York, and holding a 3-2 lead in the series, Vladimir Guerrero doubled to center with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two. The 3-1 lead gave Texas a 79% Win Expectancy, and the double was worth 23% Win Probability Added. From their, Texas got insurance runs, won the game 6-1, and went to their first World Series.

3.  2010, World Series Game 3: After dropping both games in San Francisco to start the World Series, Texas took an early lead in game three thanks to a three-run Mitch Moreland shot to right with two outs in the second. Texas's Win Expectancy jumped to 79% for 24% Win Probability Added. The runs proved more significant in hindsight, as Texas won 4-1. Without Moreland's home run, the Rangers likely never win even one World Series game.

2.  1996, ALDS Game 2: With a 1-0 lead in the series, trailing 1-0 in the game, with two on and two outs in the top of the third, Juan Gonzalez homered to left for a 3-1 lead and a 74% Win Expectancy. Good for 25% Win Probability Added. Unfortunately, the Rangers' bullpen could not hold the lead, and they lost the game 5-4 in 12 innings, as well as the next two and the series.

1.  2010, ALCS Game 4: If you didn't see this list last year, I'm guessing you still knew what would be No. 1. This is by far the victor. In the sixth inning in New York, the Rangers trailed 3-2, and were one out from wasting a pair of baserunners when Bengie Molina came to the plate. TBS began playing a montage of Molina home runs against the Yankees in the playoffs, as though they knew the future. For a second it seemed like the montage was just continuing when Molina shifted his weight around for a home run down the left field line, and a 5-3 lead for the Rangers. 73% Win Expectancy. 40% Win Probability Added. The Rangers coasted to victory from there, taking a dominant 3-1 lead in the ALCS.


As this post season goes on, I'll update the list when big moments come. On one hand, I hope I do, as that means the Rangers are likely playing -- and winning -- many post season games. On the other hand, it would be nice if no games are ever close enough (the good way) for large swings in Win Expectancy.

We'll see.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.