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Talent, grit hallmarks of Rangers' 2016 season

AL's top seed and West champs produced many memorable moments
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' regular season was almost magical. Their postseason was short and disappointing.

But it's unfair to the Rangers' 2016 season to let the postseason overshadow what it took for them to win the American League West division title with the AL's best record. But the Rangers were the ones that made it clear that the only goal was winning the World Series, and nothing else matters.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' regular season was almost magical. Their postseason was short and disappointing.

But it's unfair to the Rangers' 2016 season to let the postseason overshadow what it took for them to win the American League West division title with the AL's best record. But the Rangers were the ones that made it clear that the only goal was winning the World Series, and nothing else matters.

"There are no real words that ease the feelings at all," manager Jeff Banister said when it was all over. "And I'll say this again, I'll tell our guys again: Look, you gotta use these types of situations as that burning fire that keeps you going all winter to come back with the motivation to get back to this spot, continue to win. And I believe we will."

:: 2015 Year in Review | 2016 Outlook ::

The Rangers' regular-season record of 95-67 was good enough for the seventh division title in club history. But what was so remarkable was how they got there, led by a Major League-high 49 come-from-behind wins and a 36-11 record in one-run games.

But it all came to an end in the 10th inning of a 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. The Blue Jays pulled off a three-game sweep, and the Rangers' season was over.

"Look at the numbers and how we played all year long, the comeback wins, the one-run wins; that's not luck," Banister said. "I'll argue with anybody that wants to say it's luck. It's not luck. It's a case that they continue to play. They're very talented. We're not perfect. No team is perfect. And so I couldn't be more proud of them."

Video: Banister on club's consistency, room for improvement

The season may have ended in disappointment, but most of the top Rangers moments of 2016 were uplifting.

The Rougned Odor - Jose Bautista fracas on May 15 stands out as a vivid memory from 2016, but five other moments had a greater impact on the Rangers' strong season. Here they are:

1. Beltre walk-off

This moment, from July 25 against the Athletics, is indicative of all the Rangers' one-run, walk-off and come-from-behind wins in 2016. The Rangers trailed 5-1 after three and 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth before Adrian Beltre's two-out, two-run home run gave them another huge victory.

Video: OAK@TEX: Beltre on his walk-off homer, gets doused

2. Darvish goes deep

A 6-5 victory over the Reds on Aug. 24 was also more than just another one-run win. Yu Darvish made it memorable with his first career home run in the fifth inning off pitcher Tim Adleman. It was only the second home run ever by a Rangers pitcher in club history. Ian Desmond followed with a home run, marking the first time since 2000 that an AL team had a pitcher included in back-to-back home runs.

Video: #THIS Yu Darvish hits his first career home run

3. Prince retires

The Rangers knew the prognosis was not good in July when Prince Fielder was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck for the second time in three years. Surgery was required, and it was suspected that Fielder's career was over. He made it official on Aug. 10, with his teammates filling the media conference room at Globe Life Park.

"The doctors told me that with two spinal fusions, I can't play Major League Baseball anymore," Fielder said.

Video: Fielder announces end of playing career

4. The acquisitions

The Rangers were constantly trying to make themselves better, beginning in Spring Training when they signed Desmond at the end of February to play the outfield. They swung two big deals at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers and outfielder Carlos Beltran from the Yankees for a total of six Minor League prospects. In August, outfielder Carlos Gomez was signed after being released by the Astros.

Gomez started his first game for the Rangers on Aug. 25 and hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat. The blast helped the Rangers to a 9-0 win over the Indians in the first of a 10-game stretch against Cleveland, Seattle and Houston. The Rangers went 8-2 in that homestand, putting key distance between them and their division rivals.

Video: Must C Crushed: Gomez homers in first Rangers at-bat

5. New ballpark

On Nov. 8, while the nation was choosing a new president, the Rangers were getting a new ballpark. The voters of Arlington approved city funding of $500 million for a new park to be built across the street from Globe Life Park.

The Rangers are putting up $500 million for the facility, which is targeted to open in 2020.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Prince Fielder, Carlos Gomez