Ranking the Top 5 Texas Rangers of All Time
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is one of the best catchers to ever play the game of baseball.
Maybe even the best.
He joins a handful of Texas Rangers players who belong in the conversation as the best Ranger ever.
But with guys like Nolan Ryan, Juan Gonzalez and Michael Young to consider, does Pudge belong at the top of the Rangers all-time list?
5. Alex Rodriguez
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It sounds completely outrageous at first glance, but A-Rod proved to be one of the most individually productive Rangers ever.
No, A-Rod never lived up to the ridiculous deal that Tom Hicks gave him and never led the Rangers to the postseason like everyone thought he would.
But, Rodriguez did have three of his best years with Texas, winning two Gold Glove Awards at shortstop and the AL MVP in 2003. He also appeared in three All-Star games and hit 156 home runs in just three seasons.
A-Rod also provided some excitement during his first season that the Rangers were in dire need of, but his monstrous deal hamstrung Texas for the next several seasons.
Rodriguez will never make the list of most liked players in Rangers history, but he was definitely one of the best.
4. Michael Young
It's harder to quantify why Michael Young belongs on this list than it is for the other guys.
Young has been the leader in Texas for a decade, but until there were other pieces around him, the Rangers couldn’t get into the playoffs.
That doesn't change the fact Young has hit .300 or better in seven of his 11 full MLB seasons—all of which have been with Texas.
There was also a period where he and Ichiro Suzuki were always battling it out to be the AL hits leader every season.
Suzuki won all but two of those titles.
Young has been a perennial All-Star, making it to six consecutive games from 2004-2009.
What matters more than his stats is the leadership he has provided in Texas over the years. Not many players would take too kindly to being moved around in infield as much as Young has.
Michael Young is now the veteran leader of the best team in the American League two seasons running. That speaks to his credibility for being on this list more than the 200-hit seasons ever could.
3. Juan Gonzalez
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Steroid speculation aside, Juan Gonzalez was one of the most feared hitters in the American League throughout the 1990’s.
Juan Gone also won two MVP awards—the most by any Ranger in history.
His feared bat helped lead Texas to all three AL West championships in the late 1990’s. Gonzalez's thick, intimidating mustache also had something to do with it I'm sure.
Gonzalez got a bad wrap for being a diva and a whiner—especially after he moved on from the Rangers—but is the franchise leader in home runs and RBI’s and one of the best players in Rangers' history.
2. Nolan Ryan
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Nolan Ryan is unlike most of the players on this list—he still has a chance to move up.
Ryan's time in the front office is proving to be even more valuable than the five seasons he spent on the mound for Texas, putting the Rangers on the map.
Even at the age of 42, Ryan still produced like few Rangers pitchers have. He had two no-hitters, almost 1,000 strikes and one awesome punch-out of Robin Ventura.
Ryan even managed to make an All-Star appearance at 42 and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting that season.
It still remains to be seen, but if Ryan can help bring a World Series or two to Texas, he might just move into that first spot.
1. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez
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It was pretty close between Pudge Rodriguez and Nolan Ryan.
In the end, the 12 years of service with Texas put Pudge on top.
Rodriguez entered the league in 1991 as a defensive catcher who had some work to do on offense.
Over the next few years, Pudge must have worked on it because he hit over .300 for eight consecutive seasons beginning in 1995.
Pudge is in the only other catcher whom people will mention in the same paragraph as Johnny Bench.
Rodriguez won 13 Gold Glove awards, including 10 in a row with the Rangers from 1992 to 2001, and remains one of the only catchers who can claim to throw out Rickey Henderson twice in one game.
Pudge will be remembered for the great baseball play yes, but will also be remembered for what he did for the Texas franchise in the eyes of baseball. He led Texas to their first, second and third AL West titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Rodriguez will be very hard to unseat from the his throne atop the Rangers all-time list.
Other Receiving Consideration
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There are many others who deserve consideration amongst the best Rangers of all time.
Here are just a few who didn't quite make the list.
Sundberg did win six consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1976 to 1981, but his offensive production was never there.
In 12 seasons with Texas, Sundberg averaged .252 and never hit more than 65 RBI in a season.
Time will tell with Kinsler because he just signed a five-year extension. My feeling is he will soon replace A-Rod on this list.
Kinsler has been one of the electrifying second baseman in Texas history and is still in his prime.
Oates will always be one of the most favorite Rangers ever. He managed three AL West Championship teams in the '90s.
Oates will be remembered for his excellent manager skills on the field and his fighting determination that carried him through the cancer-ridden days of his final years.
Hough is the franchise leader in wins and that counts for something. He also managed well over 200 innings for seven consecutive seasons.
That would be quite the feet today in the pitch-count era.