Few Major League Baseball teams are as synonymous with power-hitting as the Texas Rangers. Although the still prevalent view that the Rangers are a "all hit, no pitch" team is quite antiquated, I see no reason why not to celebrate the best power hitting seasons in the history of the franchise.
So here you are, and I sincerely hope you enjoy.
Parrish played with the Texas Rangers from 1982—1987, and it was in his final year, '87, at the age of thirty-two, that he had his finest power numbers for the Rangers.
Larry Parrish, 1987:
.268, 32 HR, 100 RBI
It's of special note, too, that this occurred several years before players starting to swell to the size of professional bodybuilders. In other words, this was pre-steroids era.
Although Vladimir Guerrero only played one season for the Texas Rangers, it was a career renaissance of sorts. He made it to the All-Star Game for the first time in two years, and was key to the Rangers' run to their first World Series.
Vlad Guerrero in 2010:
.300, 29 HR, 115 RBI
It's certainly worth noting that his personality was a perfect match for the Rangers' clubhouse and he was seen as a true clubhouse leader, not just by fellow Latin ballplayers, but by the Rangers as a whole.
And yes, he did this not only without steroids, but without batting gloves, or any care at all about whether the pitch was a ball or a strike.
Rafael Palmeiro was the sweet-swinging left-hander that had come into prominence with the Texas Rangers, was dealt to the Orioles (where he continued to dominate) and came back to the Rangers as Will Clark's replacement at first base.
1999 was a fantastic year, not only for the team as a whole—they made the playoffs for the third time in four years, and set a then-record with 95 wins—but especially for the man affectionately nicknamed "Raffy." Despite his offensive prowess, Palmeiro was also an excellent defender, as he won a Gold Glove in '99 as well.
Rafael Palmeiro in 1999:
.324, 47 HR, 148 RBI
Players were huge, and everyone knew something was up. But honestly, no matter how gigantic Juan Gonzalez, or Pudge Rodriguez became, Palmeiro never really fit into that "Steroid Look" profile. Of course, years later, after he notched his 3,000th hit and 500th home run, we'd learn the terrible truth.
Juan Gonzalez had a year for the ages in 1996. He won the AL MVP, guided his team to their first ever postseason appearance, and hit so well in the postseason against the Yankees, that he will forever be remembered in North Texas as "Senor Octubre."
Juan Gonzalez in 1996:
.314, 47 HR, 144 RBI
At just twenty-six-years-old, Gonzalez was clearly entering his prime—the 47 homers would be the most he hit when in a single season—and would eventually add a second AL MVP trophy to his ever-expanding trophy cabinet.
When it was all said and done for Gonzalez's magnificent career in 2005, the only thing keeping him and his 434 career homer runs out of Cooperstown, were the Mitchell Report and obvious steroid use.
Both Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz exploded onto the scene in '09—while providing a preview of great teams to come—as both had their first 30+ home run seasons. It was impossible for me to pick one over the other, as they both were eerily similar in their greatness. Plus, it's my article. Deal with it.
Nelson Cruz in 2009:
.260, 33 HRs, 76 RBI, 20 SBs
Ian Kinsler in 2009:
.253, 31 HRs, 86 RBI, 31 SBs
It's also worth noting that, aside from this past season, when Kinsler stayed healthy and played in 155 games, '09 was his career-high in games played with 144. Cruz, who is often-injured as well, played in a career-high 128 games in '09. Pretty unbelievable to rake like that and miss out on 34 games.
In 1997, Rust Greer also put the entire Rangers' team on his shoulders at times.
Affectionately nicknamed "The Red Baron", Greer was one of the most popular and productive outfielders in Texas Rangers' history. In 1994, he recorded the final out (while playing centerfield) in Kenny Rogers' historic perfect game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Oddly enough, over a four-year period, 1997 was the only time that Greer didn't manage to get 100 RBI.
At twenty-eight-years-old, Greer was certainly coming into his power stroke as well as his prime.
Rusty Greer in 1997:
.321, 26 HR, 87 RBI
Greer was a key contributor on every Rangers' team that made the playoffs in the late 90s ('96, '98 & '99). Greer retired in 2002 after playing every year of his nine-year career for the Texas Rangers.
Dean Palmer, the second in this list from the 1996 club, was a standout third baseman with plus pop at the dish during his Rangers' tenure (1989-1997).
At the age of 27, Dean Palmer was just starting to put it all together, and in 1996 he had, arguably, the greatest year of his career.
Dean Palmer in 1996:
.280, 38 HR, 107 RBI
Palmer would go on to hit 38 homers one more time in his career, in 1999, while playing with the Detroit Tigers. He would make his lone appearance in the All-Star game in 1998 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
How did Pudge get so muscular...Hmmm
Clearly, 1996 and 1999 were great years for the Texas Rangers. Pudge is the second member of the '99 club to garner inclusion in this list.
Ivan Rodriguez in 1999:
.332, 35 HR, 113 RBI—plus...25 SBs!
Rodriguez might be the prime example of what steroids can do for you as a player. Pudge would never come close again to 100 RBI or 35 home runs (he actually never would reach 30 again), and perhaps the biggest anomaly in this sample is the 25 stolen bases.
Regardless, Pudge had one of the finest power seasons in Rangers' history in '99. He also won the AL MVP, and added a Gold Glove (as of today, he has 13.)
Despite signing that ridiculous 10-year deal prior to the 2001 season, A-Rod only played three seasons in Arlington, as a member of the Texas Rangers. Love him, or hate him, (and it seems that only a marginal few or indifferent) A-rod had an unbelievable year in 2002.
Alex Rodriguez in 2002:
.300 57 HRs 142 RBI
The home run total is the highest in the history of the ball club. A-Rod won a Gold Glove at shortstop in '02, but would have to wait until the following season ('03) to win his first AL MVP.
Josh Hamilton gets the nod as having the biggest power hitting season in Texas Rangers history. He's also the second player from the 2010 club to get the nod. His home run total certainly isn't the highest, and he's not the only member of the Texas Rangers to win an MVP, and lead the charge into the postseason.
Hamilton, "Hami," or "Ham Bone," is definitely the first member of the Rangers to lead his team past the NY Yankees (in any capacity) and into their first World Series berth.
The 2010 ALCS will always go down as one of my fondest memories as a baseball fan, not to mention Rangers' fan—I was fortunate to get to go to both game one and game six.
Perhaps my fondest postseason memory was of Joe Girardi—clearly exasperated looking—wiggling his four fingers so as to indicate to please, DO NOT let this freaking guy destroy us AGAIN.
Other top moments include: Watching the Rangers' advance to the World Series while in the nose-bleed seats, just south of Jesus, with my Dad. And of course, Nick Swisher getting embarrassed by Cliff Lee, and uttering (audibly) "F@$*, f@$& F@#$!!!"
Overall, it was a dang fine series, and wouldn't have been the same without the indescribably awesome Josh Hamilton.
Josh Hamilton in 2010:
.359, 30 HRs, 100 RBI—AL Batting Champion, AL MVP, ALCS MVP
Author's note: If you're scratching your head, wondering why I've left out Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, or even this year's version of Ian Kinsler, well, I decided to exclude the 2011 season, since, as we all know, it isn't over yet. GO RANGERS!