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How the 2015 Texas Rangers survived into the postseason

A second-half surge led the Rangers to their first AL West title since 2011.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

A 9-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on October 4 gave the Texas Rangers their first AL West title since 2011. A 36-20 record in August and September helped to propel a team that was in third place and below .500 at the trade deadline into the postseason and to a final record of 88-74. Here are some of the highlights of the Rangers' 2015 season:

Prince Fielder comes back with a vengeance

After playing in just 42 games and hitting just three home runs in his first season as a Ranger in 2014, Prince Fielder returned to the lineup, and to his old self, in 2015. Fielder played 158 games this season, hitting .305/.378/.463 with 23 home runs, earning the sixth All-Star appearance of his career. His OPS+ of 126 was his highest since 2012 for the 31-year-old,  who was primarily a designated hitter for the first time in his career.

Cole Hamels sparks late surge

Though there was speculation around a Cole Hamels trade for much of the summer, few expected him to land in Texas, which he did when the Phillies traded him to the Rangers along with reliever Jake Diekman on July 31 for a package of six prospects. Hamels made a dozen starts for the Rangers, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 83⅔ innings. More importantly, Texas was 10-2 in Hamels' starts and was 39-22 after the trade overall.

Shawn Tolleson leads a strong bullpen

Without either of their closers from 2014 available, 27-year-old Shawn Tolleson stepped into the role and performed quite well, with a 2.99 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 73 appearances, piling up 35 saves in the process. He was bolstered in the Rangers' bullpen by Keone Kela, Sam Dyson and Diekman, all of whom had ERAs below 3.00 as Texas marched into October.