Is it time for the season to start yet? I don’t know about anybody else but I am anxious to see the Texas Rangers take the field for the 2013-2014 season. To hold myself over I have been looking back on the Rangers pastime and watching highlights from some of the best players in Texas baseball history. Here is a list of my personal favorite players to ever wear the Texas jersey:
I think that any list of Rangers players should start with the man who really built the Rangers into what they are today. Michael Young had 7 All Star appearances in his 13 seasons with Texas. He was the 2005 AL batting champiion and is the Rangers all-time hit leader. If I were to pick a captain for a Texas Rangers dream team it would undoubtedly be #10 Michael Young.
“The Ryan Express” continues to be one of the most influential faces in the history of Rangers baseball. Currently the team’s CEO, Ryan also managed the organization from the mound during his time in the league. He tossed two no-hitters for Texas and racked up almost 1,000 strikeouts with the club. One of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, Nolan Ryan definitely deserves a spot amongst my favorite Rangers of all time.
Growing up as a young catcher, Pudge was the guy I looked to as the standard of what it meant to play the position. This man had all the tools. He hit over .300 for eight consecutive seasons with the Rangers and led Texas to their first AL West title. On top of that he had 13 Gold Glove awards, 10 of them in a row! He also had 10 consecutive All-Star appearances. Also, what better name for a catcher than Pudge?
Apart from all the steroid speculation one has to appreciate the hitter Gonzalez was. The man had 372 home runs and 1,180 RBI’s with Texas, both franchise records. He was a staple on a team that won 3 AL West titles and had a moustache so thick Joseph Stalin was turning over in his grave.
Palmeiro, like Gonzalez, was just one of those power hitters in the league that everyone had to like regardless if they were a Rangers fan. He hit 321 of his 569 home runs with Texas and also compiled 1,039 RBI’s over his 10 years on the team. He was a 4-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner and only the fourth player in history to be part of the 500 home run club and 3,000 hits club.
Taking it back a little bit further in history to a guy who I have only heard stories about, Charlie Hough. Hough was a 1980’s knuckleballer who could really pitch. While playing for Texas he had 139 wins with 98 complete games. He is the franchise leader in wins, inning pitched, strikeouts, starts, and complete games.
Sure, some Rangers fans still feel the sting from Hamilton’s departure from Arlington last year, but everyone has to acknowledge that his 2010 season was something else. Winning the AL MVP award he set a franchise record with a .359 batting average that year. He lead the team to their first American League title and brought the Rangers to the World Series in back to back years. Finally, nobody will ever forget that 2008 Home Run Derby when Josh hit 28 home runs in the first round setting a MLB record.
Last but not least…actually check that. Last and least is Alex Rodriguez. Probably the most hated baseball player in the history of the game, and certainly my number one most hated, Mr. Rodriguez did have some good, juiced-up years for Texas. He was a 3-time All-Star, 2-time Gold Glove award recipient at shortstop, and the 2003 AL MVP. In his 3 seasons with Texas he hit 156 home runs as well. The peak of his career has been with the Yankees so fans forget that he once was the best player on the Rangers. Although nobody likes to see A-Rod on any sort of list of all-time greats he deserves to be on this one.
I hand selected these Rangers veterans as some of the greatest to every play on the team. However, there are a few current Rangers who I would say are making their way up on that list. Certainly Ian Kinsler will be considered as one of the all-time Rangers greats in years to come. Yu Darvish, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and Adrian Beltre might all very well join him one day on that list.