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Rangers did exactly what was needed for keeping a playoff pace

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The Rangers managed to put themselves in the driver’s seat in the AL West coming into July, and their success at the trade deadline makes them a formidable American League foe.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 trade deadline was certainly a doozy. Nearly 20 trades happened between one o'clock and four o'clock eastern time on Monday, and the Rangers seemingly emerged as the clear deadline winner in acquiring impact talent (the Yankees seemed to ‘win' as well, but for a host of other reasons).

On July 1st, I wrote a piece about the Rangers that viewed them in a bullish light. While it would have been inaccurate to describe Texas as far-and-away the best American League team talent-wise, they managed to put some distance between them and the Astros (who started the year by digging themselves into a hole from which they may not escape).

In that article, I identified some gaping holes and areas of need for Texas, including first base and designated hitter, and I did not even get into the fact that they had Robinson Chirinos and Bryan Holaday splitting duty behind the plate.

Well how things change in a month! The Rangers remain in first place by 5.5 games over the Astros and fixed their catcher and designated hitter problem in spades. Travis Sarandos recapped the Lucroy acquisition, so I won't go into details about the players Texas relinquished, but looking at the difference between backstops in the immediate future, this is obviously a huge upgrade for Texas. On July 1, all Rangers catchers had a cumulative 1.2 fWAR; yet a month later, it was 1.0. They hit at a combined .229/.285/.416 clip with 15 homers. In Lucroy, the position is being upgraded to a 2.8 fWAR with a .297/.359/.479 slash line and 13 home runs.

If we look at the designated hitter spot, it has been even more abysmal than it was 30-odd days ago. The current DH slot in the Texas lineup has cost the Rangers nearly 2.5 wins (-2.4 fWAR) by hitting a putrid .203/.282/.328 with nine home runs. To reiterate, you probably don't want your DH putting up less production than your already-lousy catchers while also preventing you from winning games....ouch! In adding Carlos Beltran, the Rangers finally have reliable production from that lineup spot. Sure, Beltran is 39 years old, and Texas gave up some youth in the deal (as chronicled by Tom O'Donnell), but he is having as fine a season as he's had since he was with the Cardinals in 2012. Beltran already has amassed 2.1 wins and has a slash line of .300/.340/.540 with 22 home runs.

Yu Darvish looks like he's adjusting well to being back on the hill, and in seven starts and 38 innings has 54 strikeouts already. He has been plagued a bit by the long ball; he's allowed six already, three of which he gave up Tuesday night. It can be somewhat excusable since he is still getting in sync with his new backstop.

The Rangers are sitting pretty in the division, and although they have only two strong starters (Yu and Cole Hamels), in the playoffs that may be all they need to win a short series.

As far as first base, well, I guess you can't have it all. A half dozen game lead over a divisional rival with the three other teams seemingly waving the white flag is a pretty good position for the Rangers.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.