Texas Rangers Power Rankings: Top 10 Fastest Players in Team History
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Watching the Texas Rangers the last several years—in particularly since Ron Washington has been skipper—can lead one to believe that the Rangers have always been denizens of "small ball" and have consistently fielded teams filled with speedy, five-tool type of players.
We've gotten spoiled by our current product.
I took it upon myself to do a little research, and to see if I could dig up some speedy players from years past. Some of these names you'll recognize, a couple of the names are actually on the team right now—but I suppressed the temptation to front load this list with current players, even though that could have legitimately been done.
So, here we go, Rangers fans, I bring you, not the Top 10 greatest power hitters of all-time (goodness, that would take until Opening Day 2012) nor the Top 10 Rangers' Playoff Teams (that would be tough, there's only been four), but I thrust upon you:
The Top 10 Fastest Players in Team History. Enjoy.
No. 10: Otis Nixon
Otis Nixon could flat out fly. He also had the kind of facial structure—in particular his jawline—that always shocked you when he smiled and you noticed he had all of his teeth.
Guy just looked toothless, but hey that's better than when someone flashes the food shoot and you get nothing but a cavernous hole.
Nixon would have been higher on this list, save for the fact that he only played one season in Arlington, TX.
What a season it was though, as the 36-year-old center fielder swiped 50 bags while batting .295 in 1995.
He did manage to lead the league in the dreaded "caught stealing" category with 21, but hey, just like you can't hit the ball if you don't swing, you can't swipe a bag unless you try, right?
Nixon finished his career with 62 stolen bases.
No. 9: Cecil Espy
Cecil Espy could run with the best of them. He also knew a thing or two about chewing tobacco.
It's been a long time since Cecil Espy's name has been bandied about by Rangers fans—or anyone else for that matter.
That might change soon, though.
In the opening chapter of Michael Lewin's Moneyball—soon to be released in the theaters starring Brad Pitt—Espy is one of a group of ball players that are aggressively scouted along by Billy Beane, future GM extraordinaire for the Athletics.
No Brad Pitt isn't cast as Cecil Espy.
In 1988 and 1989, Espy stole at least 33 bases for the Rangers. His best season was probably 1989 when he swiped 45 bags, but, like Nixon, he led the league in "caught stealing" with 20.
Regardless, the man had no trailer that needed to be unhitched.
No. 8: Ian Kinsler
Okay, unless he was heck of a long index finger here, he's probably out. He still manages to swipe plenty of bags.
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All right, this is as far as I could hold off on including a current member of the Texas Rangers.
Anytime a dude is still in his prime, already has one 30/30 season under his belt—well that'll crack any speed related list in my book.
Kinsler's speed isn't the kind that makes your bored girlfriend suddenly pay attention to a ball game or anything like that. Truth be told, when it comes to my girlfriend, that type of speed probably doesn't exist.
Funny, she never misses a C.J. Wilson start though. Hmm.
Anyways, Kinsler is certainly above average in foot speed but the thing that makes him so unique—aside from his power—is his tenacity when attempting a steal.
Although he's only stolen less than 15 bases once in his career (2006, his rookie year, he only managed 11) he's never been thrown out more than five times.
His best season was probably his 30/30 year in back in 2009, when he stole 31 bags and hit out the same amount.
Over his six big league seasons, Kinsler has stolen 128 bases and has only been caught 20 times, which is good for an 86 percent success rate.
No. 7: Elvis Andrus
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Yeah, I sure did.
It's back-to-back current Texas Rangers in the mix for my Top 10.
Seriously, though, who could blame me?
Elvis Andrus is just 23 years old, has never stolen fewer than 32 bases in any full season and already has 98 for his career, which ties him for sixth all-time on the Rangers list (right behind Ian Kinsler).
Plus, he already has tied his career high (33) thus far this year, and should easily hit that 40 stolen base mark.
No. 6: Toby Harrah
Yes sir, this is the example that all other sideburns should adhere to.
Toby Harrah—although, not a household name—is probably one of the greatest Texas Rangers of all time.
He certainly was the best player during some pretty tough times, like, say, 1972 until 1978—in other words every year he played for the Rangers.
Harrah stole 153 bases during his time with the Texas Rangers (and two seasons when the franchise was still in Washington, D.C. as the Senators).
He'd have been higher ranked, for sure, had he had more than one 30-plus stolen base season (1978).
It must be stated that Harrah was kind of like a 1970s version of Kinsler—the dude could hit for power too.
In 1977, he finished with 27 swiped bags and 27 taters to boot.
No. 5: Tom Goodwin
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Tom Goodwin's time in Texas was brief. He was only here for 316 games, essentially two full seasons spread out over two-and-a-half seasons.
But he was here in the late 90s—and played for the 1998 and 1999 AL West Division Championship Rangers—the 'roided up, no-pitch taking, swinging hard as all get up, "Juan-Gone" Rangers.
And those were some fun teams to watch, no doubt.
On those playoff-bound clubs, Goodwin was the antithesis of the Rangers norm—he was the fleet-footed center fielder.
Hey, somebody has to be on base for all the home runs, right?
Goodwin stole 93 bases during his brief tenure in Arlington, and that's good for an eighth place tie for all-time stolen base leaders in Texas Rangers' history.
No. 4: Odibe McDowell
Odibe McDowell was my favorite player when I was a kid.
Okay, that's not exactly true. Kirby Puckett was really my favorite. But, believe it or not, Odibe McDowell was supposed to be the "next Kirby Puckett" so that's kind of the same thing, right?
Although there's not many names that will beat out "Kirby" in regards to goofiness, but one of them has got to be "Odibe."
It never panned out for Odibe.
But man, could this guy scoot down the line.
In 1985, McDowell flashed the potential that had the scouts predicting greatness—he hit 18 home runs and stole 25 bases. That was impressive to finish 4th in that year's ROY voting.
Take my word for it, in Arlington, in the 80s, having a player like that was a very big deal.
He was even better in 1986 when he once again knocked 18 big flies and amassed 33 counts of grand larceny.
However, after that promising summer of '86, McDowell's downward spiral topped the Major League charts while Trent Reznor was still popping zits.
McDowell's 129 stolen bases are good for fourth place, but will most likely be surpassed, by the end of the week maybe, by Ian Kinsler, who has 128.
No. 3: Dave Nelson
Dave Nelson had his superlative season with the Rangers in 1972 (the team's first year in Texas).
He stole 51 bases that year, and followed it up with 43 the following season.
In 1973—by far his finest season—he also hit .286, made the All-Star Game and was 33rd in the MVP voting.
Wait a minute, 33rd? Why do they even mention that? I think Ted Williams was 37th that year, and he wasn't even playing anymore. Oh, forget it.
Dave Nelson could run, and he's third all-time for the Rangers in the stolen base category with 144—also catchable by Kinsler this year, but quite unlikely.
No. 2: Gary Pettis
Gary Pettis, letting some oh his stolen base "mojo" rub off on Ian Kinsler.
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Gary Pettis, sadly, only played two seasons with the Texas Rangers—1991 and 1992—but he won a Gold Glove in 1991 in center field, and stole 67 bags in those two years.
In his prime, you'd be hard pressed to find any player in the big leagues faster out of the box than Gary Pettis.
Pettis is currently the first base coach for the Texas Rangers, and a fine one at that.
No. 1: Bump Wills
When your Father is Maury Wills, in my opinion the best player NOT in the Hall of Fame—check out his statistics—you're bound to be gifted, right?
I like your odds. But you know, funny thing about potential—that's all it is, just potential—you've still got to produce.
And boy, did Bump Wills ever do that.
During his rookie year, in 1977, the former sixth overall pick in the 1975 MLB Draft, finished 3rd in the ROY race.
Well, Eddie Murray was destined to win that one, but 'ole Bump had a fine season as well—batting .287 and swiping 28 bags while hitting nine homers.
Wills followed his rookie campaign with 52 stolen bases, and is the Texas Rangers' all-time leader in that category, with 161.
Sadly, Bump Wills' Major League career only lasted six seasons, but he'll always be remembered as the fastest player the Texas Rangers have ever had.