Breaking down the race for the AL’s second Wild Card

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Yesterday the Astros, Angels, and Twins all won while the Rangers lost, so the three-team race for the American League’s second Wild Card spot is dangerously close to becoming a four-team race.

Texas’ lead in the American League West is down to 1.5 games over Houston and 2.0 games over Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Astros are hanging onto the second Wild Card spot with a 0.5-game lead over the Angels and a 1.5-game lead over the Twins.

All three of the Astros, Angels, and Twins are currently on winning streaks of at least three games and thanks to this David Murphy walk-off single last night the Angels are on a six-game streak:

[mlbvideo id=”507832283″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

There are a bunch of different (and complicated) scenarios for ties and the division lead changing hands, but here’s the basic breakdown according to FanGraphs’ playoff odds:

Texas is still 66 percent favorites to win the division, followed by the Astros at 19 percent and the Angels at 15 percent. If they don’t win the division the Rangers are given a 20 percent chance of grabbing the second Wild Card spot, meaning they’re at 86 percent to make the playoffs overall with six games remaining on the schedule.

Looking strictly at the other contenders for the second Wild Card spot, the Astros are at 53 percent, the Angels are at 22 percent, and the Twins are at 5 percent. Minnesota could keep winning and still not make up enough ground just because time is running out. For instance, despite winning yesterday the Twins’ playoff odds actually went down because the Astros and Angels both won and 24 hours vanished.
Here are the remaining schedules:
Rangers: 2 vs Tigers, 4 vs Angels
Astros: 2 at Mariners, 3 at Diamondbacks
Angels: 2 vs A’s, 4 at Rangers
Twins: 3 at Indians, 3 vs Royals

All of that is probably confusing, but it should make for an interesting final week and the season-ending four-game series between the Rangers and Angels in Texas could make or break everything.

Kinsler back with Rangers as special assistant to GM Young

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler returned to the team as a special assistant to general manager Chris Young, his teammate in the organization’s minor league system nearly two decades ago.

Young said that Kinsler, who was part of the franchise’s only two World Series teams in 2010 and 2011, will be heavily involved in player development and providing mentorship to both players and staff.

Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, was part of a World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, a year before his retirement. Kinsler played 14 seasons in the major leagues and spent the last three years in the front office of the San Diego Padres as a special assistant in baseball operations and player development. The 40-year-old has been living in the Dallas area, as he did throughout his playing career.

Kinsler played for the U.S. in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and Israel in last summer’s Olympics, and he will manage Israel in next month’s WBC.

Young and Kinsler were teammates for several weeks at Double-A Frisco in the summer of 2004, the same year the pitcher made his big league debut. They were in big league spring training together in 2005, then Young was traded after that season.

A 17th-round draft pick by Texas in 2003, Kinsler played 1,066 games for the Rangers from 2006-13, hitting .273 with 156 homers, 539 RBIs and 172 stolen bases. He hit .311 with a .422 on-base percentage in 34 postseason games. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last summer.

Kinsler hit .269 with 257 homers, 909 RBIs and 243 stolen bases in 1,888 career games overall with Texas, Detroit (2014-17), the Los Angeles Angels (2018), Boston (2018), and San Diego (2019). He is one of only two MLB second baseman with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in multiple seasons, and had the only six-hit cycle in a nine-inning game since 1900 on April 15, 2009.