General manager Jon Daniels watched Mike Adams, Ryan Dempster, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara all leave as free agents while failing to land either Zack Greinke or Justin Upton, two big-ticket names the team was connected to for months. The only real additions the Rangers made were one-year deals to past-their-prime veterans like Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski, all while dealing with the increasingly visible off-the-field distraction surrounding team icon Nolan Ryan's future with the club.
Championships aren't often won in December, but even when the games got rolling, Texas faced an additional concern. Opening Day starter Matt Harrison, who received a $55 million extension in January, dropped his first two starts before being lost to back surgery. He has since undergone a second procedure, and his return date remains uncertain.
After all that, where do the Rangers stand now? With the best record in baseball and the only team with more than a 1½-game lead in its division. In what was expected by many to be the most competitive division race in the game, Texas is a surprising 6½ games ahead of the Seattle Mariners, and they're doing it with a well-rounded team. They have the third-best wOBA and the fourth-stingiest FIP on the mound. They are, according to ESPN's Playoff Odds, the team with the best chances of reaching the postseason with a percentage of 88.2.
So much for a lousy winter, apparently.