MLB.com has been compiling each club's best position player and pitching seasons. And now, here's the Rangers' all-time team based on single-season performances.
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez, 1999
Key stats: .332 BA, .356 OBP, .558 SLG, 116 runs, 35 HR, 113 RBI
Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player Award with the best season of his career. Defensively, he won his eighth of 13 Gold Glove Awards. This season was as good as it gets for any Major League catcher.
First base: Mark Teixeira, 2005
Key stats: .301 BA, .379 OBP, .575 SLG, 112 runs, 43 HR 144 RBI
The Rangers had a great run at first base from 1991 to 2006, with Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark and Teixeira. Palmeiro and Teixeira’s best years were almost identical, it just depends on which statistics are used as the deciding factor.
Second base: Julio Franco, 1991
Key stats: .341 BA, .408 OBP, .474 SLG, 108 runs, 15 HR, 78 RBI
Franco and Ian Kinsler were both three-time All-Star second basemen for the Rangers, and their best seasons were quite comparable. Both players had speed and power, allowing them to hit at the top or in the middle of the lineup. Franco had a 146 OPS+ and a 6.2 bWAR in 1991. Kinsler’s best with the Rangers was a 7.0 WAR in 2011 and a 134 OPS+ in '08. The only reason Franco goes ahead of Kinsler is because he won the batting title in 1991. That still has to count for something.
Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez, 2001
Key stats: .318 BA, .399 OBP, .622 SLG, 133 runs, 52 HR, 135 RBI
Rodriguez was the AL MVP in 2003 but was slightly better in '01. He is obviously the most productive shortstop in club history, but the guy behind him wasn’t that bad.
Michael Young was the Rangers' shortstop from 2004-08. During that five-year stretch, he hit .311/.360/.456 with an .816 OPS. Derek Jeter, over those five years, hit .313/.382/.453 with an .835 OPS. Young had the edge in doubles (198 vs. 172), triples (20 vs. 16), home runs (81 vs. 79) and RBIs (469 vs. 387). Jeter scored more runs (541 vs. 503).
Third base: Adrián Beltré, 2012
Key stats: .321 BA, .359 OBP, .561 SLG, 95 runs, 36 HR, 102 RBI
Beltré’s eight seasons with the Rangers were all pretty similar as far as numbers. There wasn’t one season that really stands out. When Beltré was healthy, he was a great player both offensively and defensively, year in and year out.
Left field: Rusty Greer, 1997
Key stats: .321 BA, .405 OBP, .531 SLG, 112 runs, 26 HR, 87 RBI
Greer had a terrific four-year run for the Rangers in left field from 1996-99 before all the diving and running into walls exacted a toll on his body. Again, not one season stands out too far above the rest.
Center field: Josh Hamilton, 2008
Key stats: .304 BA, .371 OBP, .530 SLG, 98 runs, 32 HR, 130 RBI
The Rangers used Hamilton at all three outfield positions during his time in Texas. In 2008, he played 111 games in center, the most at any one position for one season in his career.
Right field: Juan Gonzalez, 1996
Key stats: .314 BA, .368 OBP, .643 SLG, 47 HR, 144 RBI
Gonzalez was the AL MVP and led the Rangers to the division title. His five home runs in four games against the Yankees during the AL Division Series were memorable.
Designated hitter: Rafael Palmeiro, 1999
Key stats: .324 BA, .420 OBP, .630 SLG
Preseason knee surgery forced Palmeiro to spend most of the season at designated hitter. He played just 28 games at first base but still won a Gold Glove Award. Palmeiro is the only player to win a Gold Glove and the Designated Hitter of the Year Award in the same year.
There was predictable ridicule about Palmeiro winning the Gold Glove, but a couple of points need to be made. He had won the award the two previous seasons and probably deserved others. But he kept losing to Don Mattingly, who won nine Gold Gloves with the Yankees. Mattingly was outstanding, and it was tough to overcome his reputation.
Starting pitcher: Fergie Jenkins, 1974
Key stats: 25-12, 2.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 328 1/3 IP, 29 CG
Jenkins finished a close second to Jim “Catfish” Hunter in AL Cy Young voting. Hunter was also 25-12 with a 2.49 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. They were close in just about every category but strikeouts; Jenkins had a 225-143 advantage in that category. Also, Hunter played for a team that won a third straight World Series that year. Jenkins was a big reason why the Rangers finished 84-76 after going 57-105 the season before.
Relief pitcher: Jim Kern, 1979
Key stats: 13-5. 1.57 ERA, 29 saves, 1.13 WHP, 143 IP
The Rangers traded for both Kern and Sparky Lyle in the offseason. Lyle, acquired from the Yankees, wanted out of New York. He had won a Cy Young Award as the Yankees' closer in 1977 but lost his job to Rich Gossage the following season. The Rangers, who traded for Kern first, promised Lyle he would be the closer in Texas.
Kern, who came from Cleveland, was supposed to pitch in front of Lyle and he did. What happened, Kern later said was, “I would come into the game and not give it up.” Lyle finished with just 13 saves.