by Eddie Middlebrook
Despite being the oldest MLB franchise without a World Series title, the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers have a rich 54-year history. The franchise went its first 35 years without making a playoff appearance, but now has been to the playoffs seven times since 1996. So with the team’s 55th season fast approaching, let’s see what a 25-man roster of the greatest Rangers would look like. Let’s start by looking at the starting lineup and designated hitter. Keep in mind, we are only looking at the years with Washington/Texas (Senators/Rangers career numbers in parentheses):
Ivan “Pudge Rodriguez (1991-2002, 2009, .304/.341/.488): This was the easiest selection of all the roster spots. Pudge holds the No. 1 spot on the franchise’s All-Time WAR list at 49.9 wins. As a Rangers player, Rodriguez collected 10 Gold Gloves, 10 All-Star appearances and a MVP award. He’s a no doubt future MLB Hall of Famer and his number should be retired by the Rangers.
Rafael Palmeiro (1989-1993, 1999-2003, .290/.378/.519): The first base position is strong for this franchise as Mark Teixeira, Will Clark and Pete O’Brien all deserve a tip of the cap, but Palmeiro is a no-doubter. He’s second on the franchise’s All-Time WAR list with 44.4 wins. Despite playing his prime seasons in Baltimore (age 29-33), he still came back to Texas for four seasons and put up 17.3 wins over the next four seasons. With the Rangers, “Raffy” had three All-Star appearances, one Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award.
Ian Kinsler (2006-2013, .276/.344/.447): Here’s the first difficult selection as Kinsler gets the slight nod over Julio Franco. Kinsler’s combination of glove plus bat gives him the edge over Franco’s superior hitting power. According to wins, Kinsler is the fourth most valuable Ranger even despite only playing eight seasons with the team. He also collected three All-Star appearances.
Adrian Beltre (2011-present, .309/.358/.514): We come to our first current Ranger on the team with Beltre. With all due respect to Buddy Bell, Beltre is the right guy for this position. In five seasons with the Rangers, he’s already 10th in the franchise with 31.5 wins and could easily be as high as third or fourth on the list by the end of the season. The ageless wonder has four All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards. In 2012, he finished third in MVP voting behind Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.
Alex Rodriguez (2001-2003, .305/.395/.615): While he’s no fan favorite, ARod was an easy choice to be the franchise’s shortstop. He came to Texas in his prime and despite many of us holding negative feelings against him, we can’t deny that he played hard for the Rangers. ARod only missed one game in a Rangers uniform and though he only played three seasons in Texas, he is still 12th on the All-Time WAR list (ahead of the great Michael Young). ARod’s tenure includes three All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, a MVP award and a ridiculous 1.011 OPS. He’s also tied for eighth on the All-Time Home Run list as a Ranger with Ian Kinsler (156).
Frank Howard (1965-72, .277/.367/.503): It is almost painful to leave Rusty Greer out of the starting lineup, but Howard deserves the spot. He’s second in career OPS+ at 153 (ARod is first, 155). Howard is also third on the career home run list behind Juan Gonzalez and Raffy. He played eight seasons with the Senators/Rangers and made four consecutive All-Star appearances and three times he finished in the top eight of MVP voting.
Josh Hamilton (2008-12, 2015- .302/.359/.542): Centerfield is the weakest position in the franchise and it shows with the Hamilton selection. It’s not that Hamilton is not a worthy choice for the starting nine, but the fact that he has played nearly as many games in left field as centerfield. Hambone has five All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards and one MVP as a Ranger. He also was the 2010 ALCS MVP as he hit four homeruns in six games to help send Texas to its first World Series appearance. His tenure includes many memorable moments including his four-home run game against Baltimore, the Home Run derby in New York and potential World Series winning home run against St. Louis despite being in serious pain. Let’s hope there is still another (positive) chapter to write in the Josh Hamilton, Texas Ranger, book.
Juan Gonzalez (1989-99, 2002-03, .293/.342/.565): Tip of the cap to Ruben Sierra and Nelson Cruz, but right field belongs to the one and only “Juan Gone.” The name was ever so fitting as he still leads the club in home runs (372). After 13 seasons, he left the Rangers with a lot of hardware including two MVP awards and five Silver Slugger awards. He also made two All-Star appearances hit five home runs against the Yankees in the 1996 AL Division Series matchup. Gonzalez would be a Texas Ranger Hall of Famer, but he declined the invitation in 2013.
Milton Bradley (2008, .321/.436/.563): There’s a lot of guys who can fit this role, but at designated hitter, you need someone that can provide offense. Despite only playing one season in Texas, Bradley left his mark as he led the league in OBP, OPS and OPS+. That season, he earned an All-Star appearance and finished 17th in MVP voting. Bradley played 12 years in MLB, but never had a season quite like 2008.
- I. Kinsler
- P. Rodriguez
- A. Rodriguez
- J. Gonzalez
- R. Palmeiro
- A. Beltre
- J. Hamilton
- F. Howard
- M. Bradley
Who’s missing from the lineup in your opinion? How would you construct the batting order? Give us your feedback. Look for the starting rotation, bullpen and the bench in the coming days.
Eddie Middlebrook is a husband, father of three and saved by grace. Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9. Formerly with @wfaasports, @shutdowninning and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.