The Texas Rangers are surging. Once thought to be dead in the AL West, the boys from Arlington have come out of nowhere to overtake the Houston Astros for first place in the division. Interestingly, before their win over Houston on September 15, the Rangers had not owned sole possession of first place in the AL West all season long.
Since August 1, Texas has gone 27-14. Before the surge, they were 8 games back in the division and sat in third place. Obviously, it is an impressive run that the Rangers are on and could very likely take them to a division crown. If history is nay indication, this late season surge could send them deep into the playoffs.
The Rangers’ recent run of success serves as a stark reminder of some of the great late season surges in the past decade or so. We’ve seen clubs come back form the dead to win the division, win playoff match-ups, and even make it to the World Series.
With that, we bring you the best of those recent runs. The Rangers could be on this list once we know the final result of their campaign, but for now, here are the most impressive.
3. 2012 Oakland Athletics
The 2015 Oakland Athletics have been a major disappointment. Not long ago, though, this club was making postseason runs like it was their day job. One of the most memorable of those came in 2012, when their backs were against the wall late in the year.
Entering the All-Star break at 43-43, these A’s seemed dead in the water in the AL West. Right out of the break, however, things began to change. The team first won 10 of 11 directly after the break. They were far from done from going on winning streaks after that one, as the club won 9 in a row in late August/early September to pull within three games of the Rangers. The lead grew back to five games on September 24, 2012, and all seemed hopeless in Oakland. These A’s had one final push in them, however.
To end the year, Oakland won 8 of 9, including a season-ending sweep of the Rangers that gave them the division win on the final day of the 2012 campaign (which was actually the first time the A’s held the division lead all season long). Unfortunately, their late season success didn’t translate to a deep playoff run, but the 2012 Athletics provided one of the most memorable late season comebacks in recent memory.
2. 1995 Seattle Mariners
The 1995 version of the Seattle Mariners included some guy named Ken Griffey Jr. Even with one of the best players in MLB history, things did not look promising for that club entering the All-Star break.
With a record of just 34-35 at that point, the Mariners were well back of both the Rangers and the Angels. This didn’t light a fire under them right away, however, as the club played mediocre baseball until the calendar turned to September. Once that calendar did turn, Seattle got hot and got hot in a hurry.
On September 12, 1995, the Mariners trailed in the AL West race by six games. Then, they went on a tear, winning 11 of 12 to take a seemingly demanding three-game lead in the division. They ultimately needed a tie-breaking game to finish the division off, but the way Seattle suddenly caught fire back in 1995 was both stunning and amazing.
The team went on to the ALCS before seeing their surge broken, but the 1995 Seattle Mariners own one of the most impressive comebacks in the history of the game.
1. 2007 Colorado Rockies
When you think of a late season comeback, you think of the 2007 Colorado Rockies. This version of the Rockies started the season as many in the history of the franchise have finished it: struggling. They were nine games under .500 in May and were nowhere in the vicinity of the playoff picture. Things got a little better as the season went on, but once September hit, it didn’t appear possible that postseason baseball could be returning to Denver.
The Rockies entered the final month of the 2007 campaign 6 games back of the wild card (remember, this was back when there was only one of those spots). Then with nine games left, the club was still 4.5 games back. Even with 2 games left, the Rockies had an impossible deficit of 2 games. Someway, somehow, they still found their way into the playoffs after winning an infamous 163rd regular season game over the San Diego Padres. Then the postseason got started, and Colorado wasn’t done.
The Rockies swept the Philadelphia Phillies in the ALDS and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ALCS to become the most improbable World Series team in MLB history. Even though they were swept in the Fall Classic, the 2007 Rockies won an unprecedented 21 out of 22 ballgames. It is the greatest late season surge in baseball history (bar-none) and easily the greatest memory in the mostly sad history of the Rockies.