What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
After falling short in 2010, falling short in 2011, and falling even shorter still in 2012, the Texas Rangers finally reached the pinnacle in 2013: World Champions. It wasn't an easy road. It wasn't a drama-free road. But at the end of the season, none of that matters, because the Rangers are champions.
Expectations for Texas were tempered coming into the season after the losses of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Ryan Dempster this winter. Despite losing those superstars, the Rangers still had a solid team overall, though perhaps not as good as the teams that graced the Ballpark of Arlington diamond over the past three seasons. Sure enough, the 2013 Rangers delivered in spades on both sides of the ball. The team's pitching staff was led by AL Cy Young winner Yu Darvish, who built on his solid 2012 rookie season by striking out 250 hitters in 212 innings and posting a 2.76 ERA, confounding hitters across the league with his wicked stuff.
Darvish wasn't the only standout on the Texas pitching staff, as Matt Harrison and Derek Holland both proved that their contract extensions were good decisions, with each topping 190 innings and posting ERAs under 4.00. Rookie Martin Perez held his own in the major league rotation, and the return of Colby Lewis from flexor tendon surgery allowed Alexi Ogando to move back into the bullpen and dominate as the primary setup man to closer Joe Nathan.
On offense, Ian Kinsler rebounded from a down 2012 to hit 32 homers while stealing 36 bases, giving him his third career 30/30 season. Adrian Beltre finished third in AL MVP voting after bashing 35 homers, posting a .941 OPS, and winning a Gold Glove at third base. Lance Berkman stayed healthy and logged 134 games as the team's primary designated hitter, homering 28 times and going out as a champion after announcing his retirement after the season once Spring Training concluded.
The team's outfield missed Hamilton's power, but Leonys Martin's rookie year was a qualified success after he hit .303/.371/.462 with 19 stolen bases and above average defense in center field. Nelson Cruz and David Murphy both had solid seasons in the corners, and while no Rangers outfielder had as many homers as Hamilton did in Los Angeles, they didn't need to with the production from the rest of the Texas lineup.
After winning the AL West and earning the top seed in the American League, the Rangers hosted the wild card playoff winning (and AL West division rival) Angels in ALDS. The Rangers battered their rivals in a three game sweep, homering a total of five times in games two and three of the series started by Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton after eking out a win in game one over former Ranger CJ Wilson. In the ALCS, the Rangers were matched up with the New York Yankees, and the result was the same as 2010 ALCS: a Rangers victory in six games. And finally in the World Series against the Cardinals, the team that brutally ripped the Rangers from the brink of a championship in 2011, the Rangers prevailed in five games, with the series ending with Nathan forcing Yadier Molina to pop up to Kinsler and bring the franchise their first World Championship.