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Major League Baseball has not had a repeat World Series champion in more than two decades. In fact, the most recent team to lift the Commissioner's Trophy in consecutive Octobers, the New York Yankees, did so as part of a three-peat from 1998 to 2000. 

In all likelihood, the Texas Rangers are not going to end the drought.

We write that not to dismiss or belittle these Rangers, but rather to acknowledge that reality: while it's never been easier for a team to reach the playoffs, it's never been harder to win the World Series. Postseason expansion has created more opportunity -- to crack the bracket, and to be eliminated before you can make it to the Fall Classic.

Even so, we wanted to conduct a thought experiment by asking ourselves: just what would have to happen for the Rangers to make history and repeat? Below, we've identified five factors and developments that would likely need to be met.

1. Aces return to health

Earlier this spring, we identified the Rangers as one of the playoff teams from last year that was most likely to miss the 2024 tournament. Again, that wasn't to insult the Rangers. They're just entering with a highly compromised rotation. The Rangers will be without aces Jacob deGrom (Tommy John surgery) and Max Scherzer (back surgery) to begin the season. Free-agent signing Tyler Mahle (Tommy John surgery) is likely to miss the entire season, or close to it, as well.

The Rangers' uncertain local television broadcast deal meant they didn't add much to their rotation over the offseason. That leaves them hoping and praying that nothing happens to Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, and Andrew Heaney. In our estimation, that's not a great place to be in. Consider what we wrote back in February: "Mind you, all three are coming off good (or great, in Eovaldi's case) years, but go back to 2022 and they averaged fewer than 20 starts apiece."

Say Eovaldi, Gray, and Heaney do make it through the year unscathed. And say that Dane Dunning and Cody Bradford are tolerable back-end options. The Rangers could still really use their aces, deGorm and Scherzer, returning to health and effectiveness. 

Unfortunately, it's fair to have reservations about both: deGrom is 35 and trying to return from a second Tommy John operation, while Scherzer is 39 and hoping his back is improved. No one wants to acknowledge the left-tail outcomes because those pitchers have been so great and deserve to go out in their own terms, but they exist; there's no guarantee either will be able to find their old form.

If they can though, boy, will the Rangers ever be a nightmare of a postseason foe.

2. Young outfielders excel

We don't think we need to waste space writing about the charms and merits of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Texas' other veteran hitters. Instead, we'll note that the Rangers might improve over last year's unit (the fourth best in the majors once park-adjusted) if two of the league's best young outfielders deliver on their promise.

We're talking about Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, CBS Sports' Nos. 3 and 4 prospects. They're both 22 years of age or younger, and they're both ready for big roles.

Carter proved as much last fall, batting .306/.413/.645 (182 OPS+) with five home runs and three stolen bases in 23 games. He then reached base in all 17 of the Rangers' playoff games, amassing a .917 OPS just over a month into his big-league career.

Langford, the No. 4 pick last summer, hit .360/.480/.677 with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 44 games split across four levels. He earned a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, posting a 1.242 OPS in 17 games while facing competition that was, on average, roughly Triple-A level, according to Baseball Reference.

Nothing against Travis Jankowski, Robbie Grossman, Mitch Garver, and the other Rangers who took their turns in the corner outfield and at DH for the 2023 Rangers, but we think the Rangers will gladly take a full season of Carter and Langford in their place.

3. Lineup health holds

The Rangers were one of the healthiest teams in the majors last season. According to Spotrac's data, Texas missed the eighth fewest days to injury. Most of their top hitters avoided missing much, if any action. Marcus Semien played in every single game; Nathaniel Lowe appeared in 161 contests; and Adolis García, Leody Taveras, and Jonah Heim each cleared 130 games. 

The Rangers, predictably, were one of eight teams who had at least seven players appear in 120 contests. Only four teams had more: the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Toronto Blue Jays notched eight apiece. You may have noticed that all of those teams made the playoffs. That's no coincidence: it's a lot easier to be good when your players' health works in your favor.

Alas, player health is, at best, a black box. Even the teams don't know for sure who will or won't stay hearty and hale. If they did, the seasons would be easier to predict. 

What, exactly, awaits the Rangers and their position player health is anyone's guess. One thing is for sure: they've already had their share of issues this spring. Not only with the pitching staff, but the lineup. Both left-side infielders, Corey Seager and Josh Jung, missed time during spring training with various injuries (Seager is coming off an offseason sports hernia surgery and Jung suffered a low-grade calf strain). Lowe, meanwhile, will be out to start the season because of a strained oblique.

Is that a sign of trouble to come, or merely a bump in the road? We'll find out.

4. Astros, Mariners slip

You needn't break out a calculator or open a spreadsheet to accept the following statement as fact: the fewer series you have to win during the playoffs, the better your chances of reaching the World Series. It's self-evident. The Rangers did it the hard way last season, bumping off the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Series before they even got to the ALDS. If they want to repeat as champions, they should prioritize taking the easy road: securing a top-two seed.

The only way to do that is to win the American League West -- something the Rangers have not done since 2016. That means scaling the Houston Astros, who they tied with last season, only to then lose the division on account of the tiebreaker. (The expanded postseason means that all playoff-related ties are settled mathematically.)

In turn, the Rangers need to play well, and they need the Astros and the Seattle Mariners, the other serious playoff contender in the division, to slip up. That can mean playing worse than expected; that can mean having more injuries than expected; or, in the vein of last season, it can mean the Rangers win the head-to-head season series, giving themselves the ultimate edge in tie-breaking scenarios. 

For an idea of how the three teams stack up, here's a look at various forecast models: SportsLine, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA, and FanGraphs' ZiPS

Team/modelSportsLinePECOTA ZiPS


93.5 wins

95.5 wins

90 wins


88.5 wins

86 wins

82 wins


87.5 wins

84.3 wins

85 wins

Each model agrees: the Astros look like the best team on paper, and it's not even close. Interestingly, ZiPS has the Rangers below the Mariners; the other two models have the Rangers and Mariners close enough that you could see it going either way. (Bear in mind that the standard error bar for even the best forecast models is about five games.)

Clearly the Rangers aren't in a scholarship year; they're going to have to play well and maybe even overperform to avoid needing another four playoff series victories. Even if they can win the division, they're still going to need the following trait to close the deal.

5. Luck

You had to know this was coming -- even with how much we've touched on health. Even if the Rangers enter October healthy and as a top seed in the American League, thereby allowing them to bypass the wild-card round, they still need fortune to smile upon them in order to avoid an elimination in a best-of-five Division Series matchup. 

The same would then need to be true in the subsequent best-of-seven League Championship and World Series. There are a lot of ways to fail in October.

Yes, talent and preparation factor into these things, too. But you can do everything right in baseball and fall short of the desired, perhaps even deserved, goal. That's part of why those champagne showers are so sweet: it's not just a case of hard work meeting opportunity; it's that, and the cosmos aligning in a beautiful syzygy.

Maybe the Rangers will find their way back to the podium at the end of another season. There's no shame in it if they don't.