The Mount Rushmore of the Texas Rangers

Josh Hamilton crushes a homer against the Orioles a few weeks ago / Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Let’s take a look at the Texas Rangers, including their years as the second version of the Washington Senators.

When the Senators came into the league in 1961, they were pretty bad. In their first four seasons, they lost at least 100 games every season. They didn’t finish higher than 6th until their 9th season in 1969, and that’s only because the leagues were split into divisions. From 1972 to 1993, the relocated Rangers finished 2nd six times and were in first when the season was aborted in 1994.

The Rangers finally made the playoffs for the first time in 1996 and had a nice run of 3 post-season appearances in 4 seasons, but won only 1 game over all the series. They didn’t make the playoffs again until 2010, when they made the World Series, a feat they duplicated last year. The franchise is at its peak right now.

Here are the Rangers’ franchise WAR leaders among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Ivan Rodriguez 47.0 1991 2009
2 Rafael Palmeiro 41.4 1989 2003
3 Buddy Bell 34.7 1979 1989
4 Jim Sundberg 32.2 1974 1989
5 Toby Harrah 29.8 1969 1986
6 Juan Gonzalez 29.0 1989 2003
7 Ian Kinsler 26.0 2006 2012
8 Alex Rodriguez 24.8 2001 2003
9 Frank Howard 24.3 1965 1972
10 Michael Young 24.1 2000 2012
11 Josh Hamilton 21.1 2008 2012
12 Mark Teixeira 20.5 2003 2007
13 Rusty Greer 20.5 1994 2002
14 Ken McMullen 19.3 1965 1970
15 Julio Franco 19.1 1989 1993
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/5/2012.

So, I-Rod is pretty obviously a shoo-in. After that, it gets a little hazy.

Rafael Palmeiro was perhaps the first true superstar the Rangers ever had, but I’m not sure fans of the team would choose him as a representative. Buddy Bell and Jim Sundberg are both fan favorites but make it so high on the WAR list due mainly to longevity. Juan Gonzalez? Two MVPs and still probably hard to pick. A-Rod? Please.

Here are the pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Charlie Hough 30.1 1980 1990
2 Kenny Rogers 29.0 1989 2005
3 Fergie Jenkins 20.2 1974 1981
4 Kevin Brown 16.1 1986 1994
5 Gaylord Perry 14.7 1975 1980
6 Nolan Ryan 14.2 1989 1993
7 Jose Guzman 12.7 1985 1992
8 Rick Helling 12.5 1994 2001
9 Jon Matlack 11.2 1978 1983
10 C.J. Wilson 10.6 2005 2011
11 Bert Blyleven 10.5 1976 1977
12 Jeff Russell 9.7 1985 1996
13 Dick Bosman 9.7 1966 1973
14 Danny Darwin 9.6 1978 1995
15 Roger Pavlik 9.6 1992 1998
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/5/2012.

Charlie Hough is clearly the pitcher most identified with this franchise, and yet I have trouble imagining him getting picked for this.

Only 5 players in the Hall of Fame have ever played for this franchise, and they’ve all been with the Rangers: Ryan, Perry, Jenkins, Blyleven, and Goose Gossage. No hitters.

As for managers, they’ve had a number of memorable ones, but neither of the guys who’ve managed them to the playoffs (Johnny Oates and Ron Washington) logged enough games with the team for me to put them on the ballot.

OK, let’s have a vote. Please pick 4.


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36 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the Texas Rangers"

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Adam Darowski
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Man, this is the first one for a team I have an attachment to. This makes it much, much harder. WAR seems to be totally going out the window. You say “Charlie Hough is clearly the pitcher most identified with this franchise, and yet I have trouble imagining him getting picked for this.”. Nope. Nolan Ryan. He was only there for a few years, but in many ways it wasn’t a legit franchise until he showed up. He is the easy number one. It was the 1990s offense that brought the team their first playoff experiences. Ivan Rodriguez, Raffy Palmeiro,… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest

I went with representing different era’s of the franchise again

1) Hondo to represent their time in Washington instead of Harrah

2) Hough for the early days in Texas- you don’t think Rangers when you think Jenkins or Perry, Bell or Sundberg were possibilities but I wanted a pitcher up there

3) Pudge over Palmero or Gonzalez for the ‘Roids era

4) Michael Young for this century

Adam Darowski
Guest

Good call on Hondo. He should have been in my Bell/Young internal debate.

Hartvig
Guest

I didn’t consider Ryan because I had him up on the Angel’s wall but as a Rangers fan plus factoring his current role with the team you’ve got a good argument on your side.

If Hamilton resigns and continues to perform for at least another 2 or 3 years beyond this he would probably supplant Young- if not, Kinzler has a shot at doing so as well.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

I’m a little disappointed that Hondo (Frank Howard) isn’t getting more love here; he’s the only player on the expansion 1961-71 Senators worth mentioning, even though there were other players who were good for a few years (Claude Osteen, Ken McMullen).

Looking at B-R, it’s interesting that he was never the top Senator by WAR, even in those monster 1968-70 years. WAR _really_ dislikes his defense as a Senator, especially those three years.

Steven
Guest

Frank Howard, Jeff Burroughs, Jim Sundberg, and the 1962 Senators team Rookie-of-the Year, Ken Retzer, a great guy from my part of the country, who spent most of a sixteen-year career in the minor leagues, and who loves to talk baseball with anybody.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Gee. Forgot about Burroughs. He looked so good for awhile . . . WAR is not kind to him. (Nice to have a personal touch to Rushmore; Retzer is not often in the conversation.)

e pluribus munu
Guest
I have trouble on this one for a reason opposite to Adam’s – I’ve never had any positive feelings for the Rangers, largely because the franchise abandoned Washington. I’m from the ‘Damn Yankees’ generation, and dreamt of a utopian age with Washington celebrating the pennant. I’m ambivalent about having equal voting rights with a Rangers fan. But there’s no fun in scruples, so I chose Howard to memorialize the old new Senators, and then Sundberg and Pudge as a brace of great catchers, with Sundberg being the first home-grown Ranger player I felt was truly exceptional. Then, just as I… Read more »
Max
Guest

Anyone who voted for Raphael Palmeiro over Michael Young should be ashamed of themselves, not because of steroids, but simply how could you ever vote for a smug hypocritical douchebag? To me that issue is 1000x worse than any PED issue.

Big Daddy V
Guest

So I’m assuming you won’t be voting for Ty Cobb, then?

Max
Guest

short answer: nope.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
It’s hard enough making decisions on purely performance grounds, I see no reason to drag morality into this to complicate matters. I am not expecting everyone I vote for to be choirboys. I don’t know Rafael Palmeiro personally and you probably don’t either. I don’t recall hearing that he was a bad team mate, which _would_ be a negative for me. I do recall a bit of complaining from Michael Young when the Rangers moved him to a different position, but I wouldn’t hold that against him. OTOH, it’s your own personal Mt. Rushmore, so if that’s part of your… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I dunno, having a moustache and a Viagra commercial… kind of have to respect the guy. How many baseball players just blatantly act like porn stars?

Jonas Gumby
Guest

His moustache WOULD look divine chiseled into a mountain…

Max
Guest

Not a matter of morality, in fact, far from it. I remove any judgment for PEDs and such. But for someone like Palmeiro, or say, Albert Belle, it is a matter of personality not morality. I would vote for Steve Garvey, and lord knows he was pretty immoral. But he wasn’t a jerk. I guess I hate jerks to the point of being a jerk about it, which makes me a hypocrite, which means I wouldn’t vote for myself on one of these mounts. My logic can be dizzying sometimes.

Brent
Guest

I voted for Hough, because my Royals could never hit him. Willie Wilson, Frank White, etc, were never exactly patient hitters, Hough just carved them up. I also went with Ryan, both for what he did as a player and as an executive. I voted for IRod, of course. That left one spot. I would think it is reserved for Hamilton, but we will have to see whether he sticks around long enough. Therefore, I went with Young (barely over Buddy Bell and Sunny)

Tmckelv
Guest

Pudge, Jim Sundberg, Frank Howard, Josh Hamilton over Juan Gonzalez, Michael Young and Buddy Bell.

Other guys I liked on Tex didn’t last long enough – Blalock, Burroughs, Brown, and Greer come to mind.

Special nod to Ted Williams for his managerial stint.

Jason Z
Guest
I voted for Pudge, Nolan, Michael Young and Toby Harrah. I think that Pudge and Nolan are obvious. Pudge is easily the franchises best player and a top ten catcher of all time. Nolan played with the Rangers at the end of an historic career. Two no-hitters, combined with his current executive leadership which has transformed the franchise, secures his spot. The next two I found difficult. I chose Michael Young, due to longevity, leadership and performance. He is the player’s face of the teams transformation from a team that couldn’t win in the heat of Texas to what we… Read more »
Tubbs
Guest
I went with Howard to represent the franchise’s time in Washington, Ryan whose arrival brought true credibility to the franchise, Pudge, and Bell–although I would eventually replace Bell with Hamilton if he re-signs with the team. I wouldn’t say Bell’s high WAR for Texas is fully due to longevity, he really was only with the team for six and a half years (79-mid 85) plus a few games in 89. On a side note, Texas seemed to be a great fit for Bell, he had most of his best offensive & defensive seasons there & won the Gold Glove each… Read more »
Phil Gaskill
Guest

I don’t understand all the talk about Harrah as representing the franchise’s early years. Here’s his career in Washington:

1969, 8 games, no hits
1971, 127 games, 2 homers, .230 BA, 74 OPS+
1972, oops, his career in Dallas/Fort Worth begins

Less than one full season does not make a good representative of a franchise’s first eleven years, even if he’d been any good at the time. Sure, he became a fairly good player after that, beginning in, say, ’74 or ’75. This is not only not in D.C., I’d venture to say it’s not exactly in the early years of the franchise.

Tubbs
Guest

If I’m not mistaken I believe Harrah was the last of the Rangers who had been a Senator. I went with Bell over Harrah for my last spot, I always think of those players together since they were traded for each other & actually shared the same infield for half a season in 1985. Bell was the much better fielder & a higher batting avg guy while Harrah had speed, more power, & better OBP.

Mark T.
Guest

Looking at all these guys who played for the Rangers, I was struck by how many of them had 2 different stints as a Ranger. For the hitters, Pudge, Raffy, Buddy Bell, Jim Sundberg, Toby Harrah, and Juan Gonzalez all played for the Rangers twice. For the pitchers, Fergie Jenkins and Gaylord Perry played for them twice, and Kenny Rogers had 3 stints as a Ranger. What is it with the Rangers and getting players they’ve already had?

Dale J.
Guest

Beggars can’t be choosers!

Hey, we know you left us for more $$ and a better chance at the playoffs. But we still luv ya! C’mon back and play in Arlington!

Paul E
Guest

Not for anything, and not for another sore story, but do this team have more ‘roids suspects than most:

Juan Gone, Raffy, Pudge, Kevin Brown….they sure were entertaining, though. Remember Gonzalez going off on the Yankees in the playoffs before they realized, “Hey, we better walk this guy”…

Maybe steroids should be approved for MLB use. You know, just make the ballparks 360′ down the lines, 400′ in the alleys, and 430’ to center. Mandatory minimums on fence distances

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

The A’s in the 90s could’ve given the Rangers a run for their money as far as ‘roiding goes.

Paul E
Guest

Everywhere Canseco went, Canseco went, Canseco went, the ‘roids were sure to go – sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”…..and based on his books, he seemed relatively proud of it.

Luis Gomez
Guest

Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro. Just to have an All-Latino Mt. Rushmore.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Mike Superjew Epstein. Best nickname ever, and he was born on my birthday in the Bronx. Okay, those aren’t good enough reasons. How about a 176 ops+ in 1969? Okay, cool, but not enough to have his face carved 200 feet tall on the side of a mountain formerly sacred to the natives of that area. @9 – I’d also like give a nod to Ted Williams for that ’69 season….. can’t quite vote him in the top 4, though. Amazing how few players from those early years stand out. So, gotta vote for Frank Howard. Beastly, he was. Nolan… Read more »
Darien
Guest

Pudge Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young for me.

Phil
Guest

I-Rod, Palmeiro, Gonzalez, Hamilton. For whatever reason, this has been the least interesting one for me so far.

Timmy Pea
Guest

Oddibe “Young Again” McDowell

Erick
Guest
Pudge and Nolan are the obvious shoo-ins, Michael Young is the current face of the franchise, and after that it gets really complicated. Josh Hamilton may be the best player to ever wear a Rangers uniform, but I just can’t quite pull the trigger on him yet. If you want a true Rangers lifer, it’s gotta be Tom Grieve-drafted by the Senators, played the overwhelming majority of his playing career in Arlington, was the GM who signed Pudge and Nolan, and has been the tv color guy for what seems like forever, but is not on this list because he… Read more »
Cookie
Guest

Alex Rodriguez is the greatest player the Rangers have ever had, and I cannot fathom putting Michael Young, Palmiero or others ahead of him. As teriffic as Josh Hamilton has been this year, he isn’t going to hit 52 home runs, drive in 130+ runs and play gold glove-aliber shortstop, is he?

Fred
Guest

Well, Pudge Rodriguez and Nolan Ryan are obvious. From there it is a little hazy. Personally I went with Michael Young for being a career long player there, and Juan Gonzalez for being a 2 time MVP that most of the fanbase probably doesn’t hate.

John Autin
Editor

Glad to see Buddy Bell in so many comments. And I’ll quibble with Andy’s claim that Bell rates so high in club WAR by virtue of longevity. From 1979-84, his 6 full years there, Bell amassed 34.6 WAR, an average of 5.8 per year and 4th among all position players in that span — trailing Schmidt, Carter and Yount, ahead of Dawson, Hernandez, Brett, Rickey and Murray.

It wasn’t just defense; he hit .301 in a pitcher’s park, with a 123 OPS+ in that period.

Carol
Guest

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