Hits and Misses: The Rangers 40th Anniversary All-Time Team
For many years – too many – the Rangers were a transient organization and that has always been a problem when deciding who should go into the club’s Hall of Fame.
“They come and they go, Hobbs, they come and they go,” Max Mercy told Roy Hobbs in the Natural and that seemed to always be the case with the Rangers.
For awhile there was the occasional statement that they wanted this player or that one to “retire a Ranger” but that was an elusive goal and rarely the case, and remember Michael Young is a free agent after the 2013 season.
This is an organization whose most popular player by far had his best years elsewhere and an organization whose best player ever has simply faded into sad oblivion. Two great catchers wear World Series championship rings but not from the Texas Rangers. Many great players who were only passing through in the night.
But it has been 40 years since Tom Vandergriff lured the Washington Senators to Texas so the Rangers asked their fans to vote on an All-Time Team and the announcement came down from on high Wednesday afternoon.
For the most part fans got it right as they usually do and the 40th Anniversary Team is represented well even with the usual quirks and hurdles that had to be overcome.
First and foremost is the Michael Young question, which is certainly difficult. Young ranks right up there in the pantheon of great Rangers players, the only problem is he has played five different positions, including designated hitter, and getting him in the right spot is tricky.
But there is no 40th Anniversary Team without Young.
Position by position then…
Starting pitching: Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Kenny Rogers and Ferguson Jenkins. All are in the Rangers Hall of Fame. Gaylord Perry and Bert Blyleven weren’t here long enough and nobody is going to vote for Kevin Brown. So this was a rubber stamp. Will repeat one thing and add another though.
Rick Helling is the most underrated player to ever wear the Rangers uniform and now C.J. Wilson has officially earned the honor of most underappreciated player in franchise history. Forty years from now will anybody be able to answer the trivia question: Who was the Rangers Pitcher of the Year on their first two World Series teams?
Relievers: John Wetteland, Neftali Feliz and Jeff Russell. Francisco Cordero probably deserved consideration but the fans were 3-for-3 here.
First base: Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. Palmeiro was also listed at designated hitter. If you put Palmeiro at designated hitter only, you can find a spot here for Mark Teixeira. Still believe Clark did more to change the culture of the franchise that any other position player.
Second base: Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. The fans also selected Young at shortstop. Here they left off Julio Franco, Bump Wills, Alfonso Soriano and Mark McLemore. Young’s best years were not at second base.
Shortstop: Michael Young and Elvis Andrus. This is where Young belongs and now the argument is Andrus, Alex Rodriguez or Toby Harrah. But it looks like the prevailing opinion is to forget the A-Rod era ever happened.
Third base: Buddy Bell and Steve Buechele. Admit that Adrian Beltre has not been here long enough so it comes down to Buechele, Dean Palmer and Hank Blalock to join Bell, who is an obvious lock..
Outfield: Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer, Josh Hamilton, Ruben Sierra, Jeff Burroughs and Nelson Cruz. Glad to see the voters did not forget about Burroughs. Cruz vs. Al Oliver would be an interesting argument.
Designated hitter: Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. Let’s remove Gonzalez here and re-vote between Al Oliver and Larry Parrish. As an addendum to Helling and Wilson, let’s add this…
Al Oliver is the most forgotten player in Rangers history.