Just hours from the start of the American League Championship Series, there aren’t many people outside the state of Texas that believe the Rangers can actually defeat the Yankees. Sure, a lot of Yankee haters want to see it happen, but how many actually believe it? Well, consider me one of those that genuinely believe they accomplish the unthinkable.

Why wouldn’t I take the Rangers? They have a powerful offense built from top to bottom with speed, power and enough veterans to carry a team to a series win. Also, not only do they have a strong pitching staff (rotation and bullpen), but they have Cliff Lee. Lee established himself as one of the elite pitchers today in the majors over the past five years, but he’s proven to be an absolute stud in the playoffs. Last year for the Phillies, he went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA with 33K-6BB. This year, he only mowed down the Rays offense, which scored 802 runs in the regular season, twice in the ALDS with the following numbers: 2-0, 1.13 ERA, 21K, 0BB. Yeah, that’s right. Zero walks in 16.0 innings against Tampa Bay. Lee is scheduled to pitch at least two games in the ALCS, and I’ve pretty much penciled him in for two wins already. He’s shown that he’s on a completely different level with the pressure of the postseason on his shoulders.

So that’s two wins I have them down for. If they can beat CC Sabathia in one of his games, that’s only one win they need to find when Lee and CJ Wilson aren’t pitching. I think their offense is strong enough to give them a game where they just go off for a home run show. Texas offense hit eight home runs in five games against the Rays. You know about Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, but Elvis Andrus is the catalyst that sparks this offense and Nelson Cruz was one of the most productive bats in the Rangers lineup against the Rays. Plus, the Rangers have home field advantage, something that is crucial when playing the Yankees. You don’t want to go into Yankee Stadium late in a series with the pressure on.

The main reason people tend to take the Yankees to automatically advance to the World Series year in and year out is because of the Yankees mystic. The pinstripes. The names that have been there: Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte. It’s a great argument because these guys just seem to show up in the postseason. But age has to catch up with these guys sooner or later. Jeter definitely showed some wear and tear as he had a season well below his career average, he hit .270 in 2010 compared to his .314 career average. Rivera also shows signs of being human down the stretch, and as for Pettitte, this guy just have to stop producing in the playoffs at some point, right? And yes, New York won it all again last year, but keep in mind it was their first championship in nine years. A difficult task for this organization. They lost seven straight years in the playoffs so yes, it is possible for the pinstripes to lose.

I expect a tough, entertaining series as it usually it when the Yankees are involved, but I think the Rangers have just enough of the offense/pitching/Cliff Lee trifecta to dethrone the defending champs.

*NLCS preview and prediction to follow tomorrow

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