Texas Rangers: The Ultimate All-Time Lineup

Trey WarrenContributor IIINovember 25, 2013

Texas Rangers: The Ultimate All-Time Lineup

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    Since the Washington Senators moved to Texas and changed their name to the Rangers in 1972, this franchise has had its share of studs.

    Imagine if you got to take the best guy from each position and put them in the same lineup. We got one right here. A lineup stacked with bombers and one of the greatest pitchers of all time taking the mound.

    The Rangers don’t have any world championships, but the team has been laced with guys who can flat out stroke and play defense. There is a blend of guys who hit for average and guys who can hit the ball out of the park consistently.

    What they have in common is that they get on base and score runs. And with the guy taking the mound, it would be tough to bet against this team.

    Oh, and they are wearing the old power blue uniform, too.

    Who would be your all time lineup? Who would you add and replace?

    This article is based strictly on statistics. All stats were used from baseball-reference.com and the Rangers team page on MLB.com.

    You can follow Trey on Twitter @treydwarren.

Nolan Ryan, Starting Pitcher

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    Was there ever any question?

    The all-time strikeout king spent the last five years of his career playing for the Rangers. He finished with a 51-39 record, 3.43 ERA and struck out 939 batters.

    Ryan finished his career with seven no-hitters and threw two of them with Texas. The righty had 222 complete games in his career, including 15 after the age of 42. Walks were always an issue throughout his 27-year career, but his 1.247 career WHIP is a testament to Ryan’s ability to limit damage.

    The Hall-of-Famer attacked hitters and threw fire in the upper 90’s. He did set the Guinness world record in 1974 by throwing a 100.9 MPH fastball. During his tenure with the Rangers, opponents hit just .197 against him.

    In a franchise stacked with more hitters than pitchers, this guy stands out. With one game to win, Ryan is taking the mound.  He is a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame and has the only number retired in franchise history.

1. Al Oliver, Center Field

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    No other player has a better batting average playing for the Rangers than Al Oliver (.319). He played 534 games during his stay in Texas, including all 163 in the 1980 season.

    Oliver hit at least .309 in all four seasons and struck out no more than 47 times. He won the Silver Slugger as an outfielder in 1980 and again as a DH in 1981. He was also named to the All-Star team those two years.

    His OBP for the Rangers wasn’t spectacular (.358) but he would set the tone for this lineup which is littered with power hitters.  He doesn’t strike out much, and found himself in scoring position often.  The Ohio native averaged nearly 34 doubles and just over 12 homers a season in Texas.

    Although he spent most of his time as the DH and left fielder, Oliver would play center field for this team. He has the highest career fielding percentage (.986) out of the other outfielders in the lineup.

2. Michael Young, Second Base

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    Michael Young has played more games as a Ranger than any other player to wear the uniform. He has played 1,823 games over the course of 13 seasons with the team.

    Young had a .301 batting average in Texas, including an American League best .331 in 2005. He had over 200 hits in six seasons, including league highs in 2005 and 2011. He has 2,375 career hits, good for No. 8 among active hitters.

    He leads the franchise in runs, hits, doubles and triples. He is currently No. 19 in Runs Created (1,823) among active players, making him a valuable component of any lineup.

    He has a .979 career fielding percentage but his best position in that term came at second base (.986). Young won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 2005 but is better fitted at second for this lineup.

    Fans criticized Young in 2012 before he was traded to the Phillies but he is arguably the greatest Ranger of all time and belongs in this lineup.

3. Josh Hamilton, Designated Hitter

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    It’s no secret that Josh Hamilton’s time in Texas had an ugly ending, but what he did for this franchise is undeniable.

    Before calling Dallas a ‘football town,’ Hamilton was one of the most valuable pieces when the Rangers made two-straight World Series appearances in 2010-11. He won the MVP in 2010 when he hit .359, 32 homers and drove in 100 runs.

    Only the baseball gods know what kind of numbers he would have put up in 2012 if it weren’t for a two-month slump. He finished that season with career highs in home runs (43), runs scored (103) and strikeouts (162).

    In all, he hit .305 as a Ranger with 142 homers and 506 RBI. He dominated the three-hole for the better part of his tenure in Texas, and takes that spot in this lineup. His ocular keratitis takes him off the field for this game.

    Not very many fans want to see him here but he earned it. Hamilton put too many runs on the board for him not to be.

4. Alex Rodriguez, Shortstop

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    Alex Rodriguez averaged 52 home runs each season during his three-year career with the Rangers. That alone could put him in this lineup.

    He also has the highest slugging percentage (.615) and the second best OBP (.395) in franchise history. He was an All-Star and Silver Slugger winner in all three years and led the league in WAR in 2002 (8.8) and 2003 (8.4).

    A-Rod won the AL MVP in his last year with the Rangers, and won the AL Hank Aaron Award for best hitter all three years. He had a career-high 57 homers in 2002 and six triples in 2003. His time in Texas may be the best baseball he has played his whole career.

    He’ll take the cleanup role for this lineup simply because he has arguably the greatest three-year power stretch of any Ranger in history.

5. Juan Gonzalez, Right Field

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    Juan Gonzalez is arguably the best hitter to wear a Ranger uniform. He was named AL MVP in 1996 and 1998 and won a Silver Slugger five times in Texas.

    Whatever you want to call him, “Juan Gone” or “Igor”, Gonzalez had five seasons in Texas with at least 40 homers and seven with 100 RBI or more. He had 157 in 1998, which is the 27th highest total in a single-season in history.

    He is the Rangers all-time leader in homers (372) and RBI (1,180). He hit .293 with the team and is one of four Texas players with a career OPS over .900 (.907).

    Injuries plagued Gonzalez throughout his career, playing more than 140 games just five times in 13 seasons with Texas. But his numbers in fairly limited time make him a no-brainer for this lineup.

6. Adrian Beltre, Third Base

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    Possibly the best free-agent signing in the Jon Daniels era, Adrian Beltre is the only current Ranger in the lineup.

    He has been the most consistent player in Texas the past three seasons, posting a .312 batting average with 98 doubles and 98 homers. He won a Gold Glove and was named an All-Star his first two seasons with the team. If it weren’t for Miguel Cabrera, he would have been an all-star in 2013, too.

    Beltre led the Rangers in nearly every offensive category in 2013—batting average, hits, RBI, doubles and slugging. He also played in the most games (161) and tied the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter for the most hits in the big leagues (199).

    He doesn’t have quite the home-run production as the two guys ahead of him but his batting average is No. 2 in franchise history. He may also have the best glove at third base the team has ever had.

7. Rafael Palmeiro, First Base

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    Rafael Palmeiro is the only player in history to hit at least 38 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in nine straight seasons.

    The last five years of that string came during his second term in Texas. He played a total of 10 seasons for the Rangers, hitting .290 with 321 home runs and 1,039 RBI, each second best in franchise history, behind Juan Gone. He is also second in runs scored behind Michael Young.

    He won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers with the Rangers and was an All-Star three times. Palmeiro had more walks (805) than strikeouts (754) and had more than 100 free passes from 2000-2002.

    It is odd having a guy with these numbers this far down in the order.  In terms of OPS, he is behind Hamilton, Rodriguez, Gonzalez and Beltre.  However, we would be just as effective further up in the order.

8. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Catcher

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    There is no doubt Ivan Rodriguez is the greatest catcher to ever don a Ranger uniform. Jim Sundberg played just five more games behind the plate for Texas but did not have the production Rodriguez had.

    Pudge spent 13 years of his 21-year career with the Rangers, posting a .304 average and .341 OBP with the team. He is second in franchise history with 1,747 hits and 352 doubles. He had a 10-year streak of making the All-star Team and winning a Gold Glove, as well as the AL MVP in 1999.

    He had a career .991 fielding percentage and threw out 661 base runners, the 39th most in history. His 2,427 games behind the plate are the most ever and 201 more than Carlton Fisk at No. 2. Pudge also has a career 28.7 defensive WAR, the highest of any catcher and eighth best of all position players.

    Rodriguez is one of the greatest catchers to ever play and one of the greatest Rangers. He is one of three players in the lineup to be inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame.

9. Rusty Greer, Left Field

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    Rusty Greer was a lifer, playing his entire nine-year career with the Rangers before retiring at the age of 36 due to injuries.

    He had a .305 career batting average and the franchise’s fourth best OBP (.387). The more he played, the better he was. In 1997, he played in 157 games and logged career bests in hits, total bases, homers, slugging, walks and runs scored.

    Greer was a fan favorite for his aggressive defensive play, laying out for anything and making web gems throughout his career. He had a .979 career fielding percentage and has the 32nd best range factor per nine innings.

    He, along with Pudge and Juan Gone, helped the Rangers clinch their first postseason appearance in franchise history in 1995. Greer is joined by Nolan Ryan and Pudge in the Rangers Hall of Fame.