The Texas Rangers Mount Rushmore is the seventh in a series revealing the top four players for each franchise as selected by writers and fans.
Outside of a pair of back-to-back pennants and six first-round playoff exits, the Texas Rangers have not enjoyed too much success. Despite these postseason facts and a .476 regular-season winning percentage, the teams representing Dallas and the Lone Star State have featured Golden Hallers, Hall of Famers, and other stars that can grace an impressive Rushmore indeed.
What defines a franchise?
Dallas is a true metropolis. The city itself ranks ninth in the United States with 1.3 million individuals spread across 385.8 square miles. The metropolitan area, of course, is even larger and includes nearby Arlington.
The city has fielded a professional baseball team since 1888. In the era of segregated baseball, an inaugural Texas League member, the Hams gave way to the Tigers, Steers, Navigators, Defenders, Colts, Griffins, Giants, Marines, Submarines, Rebels. In the Texas Negro League and other circuits, the Black Giants, Black Submarines, and Green Monarchs competed on behalf of Dallas. Beginning in 1952 a gradual process of effective merging, the Eagles fielded an integrated team. The Rangers moniker first took the Dallas diamond in 1958 followed by the Spurs in 1965 and the return of the Rangers in 1972.
(Fort Worth note – the city hosted its own club throughout the minor league period and revived its team for 14 seasons in the 21st century; Cowtown is thus excluded from eligibility for this Rushmore)
Most historians and fans count these as distinct entities.
For the purposes of this series, however, OTH is embracing the idea that these iterations are one club telling a shared story. These teams represented Dallas in professional baseball. They played with Dallas or Texas wrote proudly on their uniforms. They share a common fanbase that enjoyed successes and lamented failures.
This series of articles serves, in part, as an attempt to recapture the legacy of those earlier teams. OTH recognizes that while an owner may move the corporate structure, the legacy belongs to the fans and the city for which the team played.
For cities that fielded two teams in the shameful era of segregated ball, this series will consider both sides as part of the same club. Today to a degree, major league clubs take a similar approach. The Washington Nationals, for instance, include Washington Homestead Grays players in their Ring of Honor, and most teams tip their caps to their city’s Negro League predecessors by donning their uniforms for Negro Leagues heritage games.
The NBA and NFL have recognized the validity behind this line of thinking. The modern Charlotte Hornets inherited the legacy of the Hornets that moved to New Orleans. The modern Cleveland Browns inherited the legacy of the Browns that moved to Baltimore. Now Rob Manfred and MLB need to do the same.
1888 in the minors; 1972 in the majors
- Hams (1888, 1890, 1892)
- Tigers (1889)
- Steers (1895, 1899, 1922-1938)
- Navigators (1896)
- Defenders (1897)
- Colts (1898)
- Griffins (1902)
- Giants (1903-1918)
- Black Giants (1916-1918, 1920, 1922-1938, 1949)
- Black Marines (1919, 1921)
- Marines (1919)
- Submarines (1920-1921)
- Rebels (1939-1942, 1946-1947)
- Green Monarchs (1940-1947, 1953)
- Eagles (1948-1957)
- Rangers (1958-1964, 1972-present)
- Spurs (1965-1971)
American League pennants (2)
Dixie Series titles (3)
Texas League pennants (14)
Negro Texas League pennants (1)
Globe Life Field
Texas Rangers Mount Rushmore
After counting votes from OTH writers and baseball fans, here are the top four players in Texas Rangers history.
- Texas Years: 2011-2018
- Texas Stats: 41.1 WAR, .304/.357/.509, 199 HR, 2,133 TB, 55field
JAWS is an attempt to quantify a player’s career and peak production. Utilizing wins above replacement as the governing statistic, career WAR is added to the WAR from the combined seven-best seasons. That sum is then divided by two to generate a JAWS score. These seven years sometimes are contiguous and other times scattered about throughout the ballplayer’s seasons. Adrian Beltre ranks fourth all-time in JAWS among third basemen, and five of his seven peak seasons came in the beauty that was the Ballpark at Arlington.
The consummate third baseman achieved this accomplishment through a combination of unrelenting offense and defensive prowess. Contemporaries recognized his greatness by awarding Most Valuable Player votes to the Dominican in his first six seasons with the Rangers along with three Gold Gloves. Beltre polished this regular season performance off with success in his only World Series. Though Texas remains without a World Series title, Beltre slashed .300/.323/.567 in the rive-ting seven-game series of 2011.
- Texas Years: 1991-2002, 2009
- Texas Stats: 50.0 WAR, .304/.341/.488, 352 2B, 217 HR, 147 rField
My first non-Chicago big league game was at the Ballpark at Arlington. It was also my first night game and, despite the absence of the Sun, the Texas heat was so mighty that the Rangers pitcher, Rick Helling, fainted in the dugout. Distracted by this and the general sights, sounds, and joy of being at the ballpark with my father and brother, I failed to notice that a Golden Haller was playing backstop.
More than perhaps any position but pitcher, the catcher is valued for defensive capability and accomplishments. Even with a Mendoza-line hovering offensive performance, a solid defensive catcher can make his way in the big leagues for years and command respect (and a corresponding salary). Ivan Rodriguez more than met that defensive criterion, earning ten consecutive Gold Gloves in his years with Texas.
The Puerto Rican dominated the diamond on the defensive end. Rodriguez threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers and led the American League nine different seasons in the category. As with any great catcher, Pudge paired defensive prowess with offensive output. His 311 home runs, 2,844 hits, and 54.5 wins above replacement place him among the elite of his peers.
- Texas Years: 1989-1993
- Texas Stats: 15.2 WAR, 3.43 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.126 WHIP, 939 K, 10.1 K/9
Though he played more games with the California Angels and Houston Astros, the Texan fireballer is most often identified with the big league club that bears his state’s name. This perception likely contributed to voters’ decision to include Ryan on the Rangers Mount Rushmore.
Ryan set the modern, old-school, and just overall tone for a dominant strikeout pitcher. With 5,714 strikeouts, Nolan Ryan leads all major league baseball. He holds a nearly 1,000-count lead over his closest competitor. In 20 of his 27 campaigns, Ryan finished in the top ten in strikeouts per nine innings. When at his best, Ryan was perhaps the best.
- Texas Years: 2000-2012
- Texas Stats: 25.9 WAR, .301/.347/.444, 2,230 H, 415 2B
In back-to-back years, the Rangers came painfully close to winning the World Series. Michael Young played a critical role in both those pennant-winning campaigns. He batted a respectable .255/.280/.404 with 0.19 WPA and 14.2 percent cWPA in Fall Classic play. The Californian was a regular offensive leader, including leading the American League in batting average once, hits twice, and placed in the top ten in major league hits in eight seasons.
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