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All-Time Team – Texas Rangers
The original Washington Senators changed their name to the Twins when they moved to Minnesota prior to the start of the 1961 campaign. With the nation’s capital left without a baseball team for the first time since the formation of the American League some 60 years earlier, a new Washington Senators franchise was immediately established when the junior circuit expanded to 10 teams. The latest version of the Senators remained in Washington until it relocated to Texas and re-named itself the Rangers following the conclusion of the 1971 season. As a result, the All-Time Team presented here includes members of both the Rangers and the expansion version of the Senators.
First Base – Rafael Palmeiro
Rafael Palmeiro edged out Mark Teixeira for the starting first base job by posting some truly prolific offensive numbers during his time with the Rangers. Teixeira also compiled some impressive statistics over the course of his four-and-a-half years with the team, surpassing 30 homers and 100 runs batted in three times each, while also scoring more than 100 runs twice and batting over .300 once. But, after playing well for the Rangers during an earlier five-year stint with them, Palmeiro posted monster numbers when he returned to the team in 1999. The slugging first baseman averaged 43 home runs, 122 runs batted in, and 97 runs scored for Texas over the course of the next five seasons, establishing himself in the process as one of the most productive hitters in team history.
Second Base – Ian Kinsler
Ian Kinsler easily beat out Alfonso Soriano for the starting assignment at second. Soriano had a couple of very productive offensive seasons for the Rangers, but he played in Texas for only two years, and he was a poor defensive second baseman. Kinsler certainly is not a Gold Glove caliber defender either, but he is superior to Soriano in that regard. He also has held down the starting job at second base in Texas for the past five seasons, establishing himself during that time as one of the American League’s better players at the position. Kinsler has hit more than 20 homers and scored more than 100 runs two times each, stolen more than 20 bases three times, and batted over .300 once. He had his most productive offensive season in 2009, when he hit 31 home runs, knocked in 86 runs, scored 101 others, and stole 31 bases. Kinsler has earned two All-Star nominations in his five years with the Rangers.
Third Base – Buddy Bell
Dean Palmer had two extremely productive offensive years for the Rangers, totaling 71 home runs and 203 runs batted in over the course of those two seasons. He wasn’t nearly as effective, though, the rest of his time in Texas, battling injuries and a penchant for striking out on the way to compiling a batting average of only .247 and an on-base percentage of just .320 for the team over parts of eight seasons. Meanwhile, Buddy Bell was one of the most consistent hitters in franchise history, compiling a batting average of .293 for Texas from 1979 to 1985, while also posting an on-base percentage of .351. Although he lacked Palmer’s power, Bell was a solid RBI-man, knocking in more than 100 runs for the team once, and driving in 83 runs another two times. He had his two best years in 1979 and 1980, hitting 18 home runs, driving in 101 runs, and batting .299 in the first of those seasons, while also winning the first of six consecutive Gold Gloves for his exceptional defensive work at the hot corner. Bell followed that up by hitting 17 homers, knocking in 83 runs, and batting a career-high .329 in 1980.
Shortstop – Michael Young
Alex Rodriguez was unquestionably the best player ever to man the position of shortstop for the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez averaged 52 home runs, 132 runs batted in, and 127 runs scored for the team from 2001 to 2003. But A-Rod left Texas for the bright lights of New York prior to the start of the 2004 campaign, making those three seasons the only ones he spent with the Rangers. Since inheriting the shortstop job from Rodriguez, Michael Young has gone on to make a name for himself as one of the finest players in franchise history, earning All-Star honors on six separate occasions in the process. The Rangers’ all-time leader in hits (1,848) and runs scored (918), Young has accumulated more than 200 hits five times and scored more than 100 runs four times. He has also driven in more than 100 runs once, hit more than 20 homers four times, and batted over .300 a total of six times, en route to compiling a lifetime batting average of .300. Young had his best year in 2005, when he hit 24 home runs, knocked in 91 runs, scored 114 others, and led the league with 221 hits and a .331 batting average.
Left Field – Rusty Greer
Consistent and reliable, Rusty Greer spent nine years in Texas, serving as a member of the team’s starting outfield in six of those campaigns. During that time, he hit more than 20 home runs twice, knocked in more than 100 runs, compiled more than 40 doubles, and scored more than 100 runs three times each, batted over .300 on five separate occasions, and posted an on-base percentage in excess of .400 three different times. He had arguably his best year in 2006, helping the Rangers capture the A.L. West title by hitting 18 homers, knocking in 100 runs, scoring 96 others, and finishing fifth in the American League with a .332 batting average.
Center Field – Josh Hamilton
Al Oliver merited consideration for the starting centerfield job as well. Oliver batted over .300 four straight years for the Rangers from 1978 to 1981, while splitting his time between all three outfield positions. He was a fine hitter and a very good player. But Josh Hamilton is a rare talent who, if he remains healthy, may yet go on to establish himself as the best player in franchise history. The 6’4”, 240-pound outfielder has great speed and tremendous power, making him one of the game’s finest all-around players. Since coming over from Cincinnati prior to the start of the 2008 season, Hamilton has surpassed 30 homers and 100 runs batted in two times each. He has also batted over .300 twice, en route to earning three All-Star selections. Hamilton had his first big year in 2008, hitting 32 homers, knocking in a league-leading 130 runs, scoring 98 others, and batting .304. After missing much of the following season with an injury, he captured A.L. MVP honors in 2010 by hitting another 32 homers, driving in 100 runs, scoring 95 others, and leading the league with a .359 batting average and a .633 slugging percentage.
Right Field –Juan Gonzalez
Since Juan Gonzalez played all three outfield positions at various times for the Rangers, I thought about putting him in left field in order to make room in right for Ruben Sierra. I finally decided against that idea, though, because it would have meant removing Rusty Greer from the starting lineup – something I didn’t want to do. As a result, Sierra must settle for an honorable mention and a seat on the bench. Meanwhile, Gonzalez’s powerful bat earned him the starting spot in right. The two-time A.L. MVP hit a total of 372 home runs over parts of 13 seasons in Texas. He also knocked in 1,180 runs, scored 878 others, and batted .293. Gonzalez hit more than 40 homers for the Rangers five times, drove in more than 100 runs seven times, scored more than 100 runs three times, and batted over .300 on four separate occasions. He had his first MVP season in 1996, when he led the Rangers to the A.L. West title by hitting 47 home runs, knocking in 144 runs, batting .314, and compiling a slugging percentage of .643. Gonzalez captured league MVP honors again two years later, when he hit 45 homers, scored 110 runs, batted .318, posted a slugging percentage of .630, and topped the circuit with 157 runs batted in and 50 doubles.
Catcher - Ivan Rodriguez
One of the greatest catchers in American League history, Ivan Rodriguez had most of his peak seasons with the Rangers from 1991 to 2002. During that time, he hit 215 home runs, knocked in 829 runs, scored 852 others, compiled a batting average of .304, and won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, establishing himself in the process as one of the finest defensive receivers ever to play the game. Rodriguez hit more than 20 homers five times and batted over .300 on eight separate occasions. He had his best year in 1999, when he earned A.L. MVP honors by hitting 35 homers, knocking in 113 runs, scoring 116 others, stealing 25 bases, and batting .332. Jim Sundberg will serve as Rodriguez’s back-up behind the plate.
Designated Hitter - Frank Howard
I also considered Jeff Burroughs for the DH spot, since the slugging outfielder won the A.L. MVP Award in 1974 by hitting 25 homers, batting .301, and knocking in a league-leading 118 runs. Burroughs also performed well for the Rangers the previous year, when he hit 30 home runs and drove in 85 runs. But he didn’t do much else for the team his other three years in Texas, making this a relatively easy decision. Frank Howard posted some prodigious power numbers for the Washington Senators from 1968 to 1970, after first joining the team in 1965. The 6’7”, 275-pound outfielder averaged 25 home runs and 81 RBIs for the Senators his first three years with them. But, under the tutelage of Ted Williams, he became far more selective at the plate, turning him into an awesome force in the batter’s box. Howard hit a total of 136 home runs for the Senators from 1968 to 1970, surpassing 40 homers each year, while also driving in well over 100 runs in each of those campaigns. He led the American League in home runs and total bases two times each, and he also topped the circuit in RBIs, walks, and slugging percentage once each. After hitting a league-leading 44 homers the previous year, Howard had perhaps his finest season in 1969, hitting another 48 home runs, knocking in 111 runs, scoring 111 others, batting .296, and compiling a .402 on-base percentage, en route to earning a fourth-place finish in the league MVP voting. He followed that up by leading the A.L. with 44 home runs, 126 runs batted in, and 132 walks in 1970, enabling him to finish fifth in the MVP balloting. Howard earned four All-Star nominations during his time in Washington.
Starting Pitcher – Nolan Ryan
Although already 42 years of age by the time he joined the Rangers in 1989, Nolan Ryan accomplished enough during his five seasons in Texas to earn a spot in the starting rotation of the franchise’s All-Time Team. Ryan posted an outstanding 16-10 record and 3.20 ERA in his first year with the Rangers, while also leading the American League with 301 strikeouts. He followed that up with 13 victories and a league-leading 232 strikeouts in 1990, before posting a mark of 12-6, along with an ERA of 2.91 in 1991 – his last year as a truly effective pitcher.
Starting Pitcher – Ferguson Jenkins
Ferguson Jenkins had most of his best years with the Chicago Cubs in the National League. Nevertheless, he had enough left by the time he joined the Rangers in 1974 to lead the American League with 25 victories and 29 complete games, while also compiling a 2.82 ERA and 225 strikeouts. Jenkins spent five more years in Texas, surpassing 16 victories three more times, en route to posting an overall record of 93-72 in his six years with the team.
Starting Pitcher – Dick Bosman
Although he won a total of only 59 games for the Senators/Rangers from 1966 to 1973, Dick Bosman pitched much better than his won-lost record would seem to indicate. After spending his first three seasons working primarily out of the Washington bullpen, the right-hander earned a spot in the team’s starting rotation – a place he remained his final four-and-a-half years with the team. Despite being handicapped by pitching for one of the league’s poorest teams, Bosman posted a total of 42 victories for the Senators from 1969 to 1971. He had his best year in 1969, when he finished 14-5, with a league-leading 2.19 ERA. Bosman followed that up by winning a career-high 16 games in 1970.
Starting Pitcher – Kenny Rogers
Originally a reliever when he first came up with Texas in 1989, Kenny Rogers spent 12 of his 20 major league seasons in a Rangers uniform, compiling an overall record with the club of 133-96. After spending his first four years working out of the bullpen, Rogers won 16 games for Texas in 1993. The left-hander had arguably his finest season for the team two years later, when he finished 17-7, with a 3.38 ERA. Rogers left Texas at the conclusion of the campaign to sign with the Yankees as a free agent. However, he returned to the Rangers in 2000, spending the next three years in Texas, before leaving the club again after signing another free-agent deal, this time with the Minnesota Twins. After one year in Minnesota, Rogers returned to Texas one final time, winning a total of 32 games for the team over the course of the next two seasons, while earning All-Star honors and a Gold Glove each year.
Starting Pitcher – Charlie Hough
After spending the first 10 years of his major league career with the Dodgers, Charlie Hough spent the next 11 campaigns pitching for the Rangers. Previously a reliever, Hough joined the Rangers’ starting rotation in 1982, adapting well to his new role by posting 16 victories. The knuckle-balling right-hander won at least 14 games in each of the next six seasons as well, making the All-Star Team for the only time in his career in 1986, when he finished 17-10 with a 3.79 ERA. Hough pitched even better the following year, when he established career highs with 18 victories and 223 strikeouts, while leading all A.L. hurlers with 285 innings pitched. He compiled an overall record of 139-123 during his time in Texas.
Closer – Jeff Russell
Jeff Russell earned the closer role by compiling a total of 134 saves for the Rangers over the course of 10 seasons. Keep an eye out, though, for young Neftali Feliz…he looks like the real thing.
Manager – Johnny Oates
Although Johnny Oates had a difficult time getting the Rangers past the first round of the playoffs, he led the team to three division titles during his seven-year stint as Texas manager. Oates earned A.L. Manager of the Year honors in 1996, after leading the Rangers to a 90-72 finish and their first division title during the regular season. Texas compiled an overall record of 506-476 under his leadership, for a winning percentage of .515.
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