Rangers v. Rays: Josh Hamilton is Healthy, Hitting

The 90 wins (just the fourth 90-win season in the franchise's 39-year history).

The nine-game win in the American League West (largest ever).

The claw. The antlers. The playoffs. The excitement.

Let's face it, without Josh Hamilton in the post-season it would all amount to tantalizing foreplay with no payoff.

Seeing that he missed a month with fractured ribs, I was worried about Josh being at even 50 percent in the playoffs. But with one swing of the bat -- a 413-foot homer off Ervin Santana Saturday night -- suddenly the Rangers aren't just in the playoffs, but they can win in the playoffs.

When the Rangers open the post-season Wednesday afternoon they'll do it with Hamilton in center field, batting third and back where it all started -- in Tampa.

You want irony? The last time the Rangers made the playoffs was 1999. The first player selected in the draft that year? You guessed it.

Now Hamilton returns to Tampa with a batting crown (third in Rangers' history along with Julio Franco in '91 and Michael Young in '05), a potential MVP and a pretty darn good team in tow.

After the homer -- in his sixth at-bat after nearly a month off -- and another hit yesterday, no reason to think Josh can't or won't be Josh in the playoffs.

Without him the Rangers had no chance. With him they are still underdogs. But in this weird, wonderful season, who knows?

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