ESPN's Greatest Rangers Team Of All-Time

Right now at ESPN, there's a pretty cool deal where you can vote for the All-Time Texas Rangers Team. You should do that right now, but I figured this would be a good platform to talk about it on.

So I'm going to briefly discuss who I voted for and why, and you can counter in the comments. Okay? Okay!

For each player, by the way, I'll be mentioning their career Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball-Reference) with the Rangers.

Pitchers

Pitcher is hard, because I think there's an obvious top five in franchise history, but they only let you have four starters. Nuts.

Charlie Hough is obvious. Though I'd bet the eventual best pitcher in Rangers history is currently in the organization, right now, that title belongs to Hough (31.1 WAR). And if it doesn't, it belongs to Kenny Rogers (28.9), who is also obvious. That's two.

Next I also think is very easy, and that's Fergie Jenkins (20.3). Not only is he maybe the best Rangers pitcher from a career standpoint after Hough and Rogers, but he also had almost certainly the best season by a Rangers pitcher ever in 1974, when he won Comeback Player of the Year.

So that leaves a tough choice a the fourth spot. Gaylord Perry (14.8) and Bert Blyleven (11.1) had a couple of the best seasons in Rangers history, and aren't far out of the argument, but I think the choice lies between Nolan Ryan (13.8) and Kevin Brown (16.7). Brown pitched six full seasons in Texas and, while it was the weakest stretch of his career, he managed to be at least solid regularly, and had a 1992 that ranks among the best in Texas history. Ryan only pitched five seasons, and only four were actually at least solid. But two, rather than just one, were among the best in franchise history. And Ryan meant more than just his production, he was a huge deal that brought attention to the franchise and gave them a national star they could show off to everyone. And he came to Texas in time to hit his most memorable milestones, assuring that any time people show clips of important moments in baseball history, there will be Texas Rangers uniforms. He's even wearing a Rangers hat on his plaque. For all that, I'm taking Ryan as the No. 4 pitcher.

The top reliever is also worthy of conversation. Francisco Cordero is actually the all-time WAR leader among Rangers relievers with 11.0. Jeff Russel is just behind at 10.2 and then comes John Wetteland at 7.9. I think it has to be between those three. From simply a WAR standpoint, it should probably be Cordero, but given how fantastic Wetteland was during the best stretch in franchise history, I'm taking him.

Ryan, Rogers and Jenkins are currently leading the vote, which is just fine.

Catcher

This one is easy, and I'm assuming you spend two seconds voting on it. Ivan Rodriguez (48.6) is the greatest Texas Ranger ever. Jim Sundberg was no slouch, with his 29.9 career WAR ranking 5th among position players, but he just happened to play for the primary franchise of one of the best catchers in the history of baseball.

Pudge is getting 91.1% of the vote here. It should be more like 100%, but oh well.

First Base

Mike Hargrove (16.5) and Pete O'Brien (16.4) should both be candidates here, but oh well. The obvious choice here is Rafael Palmeiro (40.1), who is not available at DH. I believe Raffy is behind only Pudge on the list of greatest Rangers players, so he's easily the only option at first.

He's "only" getting 60.6% of the vote (at this moment), having more trouble fending off Will Clark (14.5) and Mark Teixeira (17.0)  than he should, but at least he's winning.

Second Base

This one is tougher than pitcher for me. I've said for a while that Julio Franco (19.5) is the best second baseman in franchise history, but Ian Kinsler (18.2) will pass him soon. With the season Kinsler is having, and the fact that he's a career Ranger, I'm going to go ahead and change it from "soon" to "now." He'll only make that more clear in the coming seasons.

The vote is currently going to Kinsler with 48.9% over Franco's 33.8%. Sweet.

Third Base

This one is easier than any other spot on the roster. Buddy Bell is one of the best (and most underrated) Rangers ever. He was both a fantastic hitter and an elite fielder. His 34.3 career WAR ranks third in franchise history. If he'd gone to Cleveland and played as well as he did in Texas, he'd belong in the Hall of Fame. The next best third baseman, Hank Blalock, is 25 wins behind Bell. This is absurdly easy.

Unfortunately, he's not winning the vote. His 15.3% trails Michael Young's 58.6%. Shorstop is tough, with three players having great arguments, and putting Young at third means you can take two of them. But the problem with that is that Bell is more deserving than all of them. You don't bump him off even for Michael Young.

Vote Bell!

Shortstop

As mentioned, shortstop's tough. Toby Harrah probably has the best career, with his 30.0 WAR ranking 4th among position players. Alex Rodriguez's 23.9 ranks 9th, but he has a peak argument that trumps anyone in franchise history, having the top three WAR seasons ever for the Rangers. Young (24.4) doesn't have a better argument than either from a pure production standpoint, but he's not far behind. And, beyond that, he's a career Ranger, a Face of the Franchise and the all-time leader in a ton of offensive categories, things neither can claim. For those reasons, I'm going with Young just barely.

All three have a legitimate argument, though. A-Rod currently leads with 52.6%, which surprises me. Young is leading at third base, as mentioned, and Harrah is only getting 11.6%. Again, I'm just fine with Rodriguez getting shortstop, but it shouldn't be at the expense of Bell.

Outfield

Outfield's rough, and I thought about it for a while. Ruben Sierra (18.4), Juan Gonzalez (28.5) and Rusty Greer (19.8) are three of the best Rangers ever. None is really a fit at center field, though. The best career WAR from a full-time center fielder is actually Marlon Byrd (9.5). Additionally, there aren't a lot of great choices at DH, so that gives me an option.

I'm going with Josh Hamilton (10.6). He's already up to 23rd among position players, despite TotalZone not liking his defense as much as UZR. The difference between the two metrics this season alone would vault him in to the top 20. His 5.0 WAR at FanGraphs has him on pace to challenge A-Rod for one of the best seasons in franchise history. And he's not done yet. For these purposes, I'm comfortable putting him at centerfield and plugging Gonzalez at DH, with Sierra in right and Greer in left.

Hamilton's actually leading the vote with 79.5%. That's a bit much, but oh well. Gonzalez is just behind at 74.9%, and then Greer at 64.1%.

If one wants to put Greer in center and Sierra and Gonzalez in the corners, that's fine.

Designated Hitter

If you do that, the choice at DH probably has to be Franco. Currently by the voting, it's Vladimir Guerrero. There is an argument for that, as the Rangers don't have many full-time DHs in their history, and Vlad is having a great year. But I think giving it to a deserving player from another position is the better choice.

So who are you voting for, SB Nation?

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