Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Rangers News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

The top 5 seasons from Rangers hitters

@Sullivan_Ranger
November 30, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have long been known for their offensive prowess. This is an organization that has produced six American League Most Valuable Players, but not one Cy Young Award winner. There have been many impressive offensive seasons from Rangers hitters. Here are the top five:

  1. Juan Gonzalez,

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have long been known for their offensive prowess. This is an organization that has produced six American League Most Valuable Players, but not one Cy Young Award winner.

There have been many impressive offensive seasons from Rangers hitters. Here are the top five:

1. Juan Gonzalez, 1996
Gonzalez had several outstanding seasons with the Rangers, including 1998 when he set a club record with 157 RBIs. But in '96, he carried the Rangers to their first division title in club history -- despite missing 28 games because of injuries -- and was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player.

He was especially devastating in the hot summer months. He hit .407 with a .917 slugging percentage in July and .311 with a .642 SLG in August. When it was over, Gonzalez batted .314/.368/.643 with 47 home runs and 144 RBIs. He also hit five home runs in four games in the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

The sheer numbers do not particularly stand out amid other great seasons posted by Rangers sluggers. But the way Gonzalez put the team on his back during that memorable summer certainly does.

2. Josh Hamilton, 2010
Hamilton also had several years to choose from, but this was his MVP season, when he led the Rangers to their first division title in 11 years. Hamilton led MLB with a .359 batting average, .633 slugging percentage and a 1.044 OPS that is the second highest in club history. He was also the Most Valuable Player of the AL Championship Series, when the Rangers took down the Yankees in six games.

3. Ivan Rodriguez, 1999
Rodriguez was the AL MVP that year in voting across the country by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He edged out Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who won 23 games and received one more first-place ballot than Rodriguez. But Martinez was left completely off the ballot by two of the 28 voters.

Oddly enough, Rodriguez wasn’t the Rangers Player of the Year in 1999. That went to Rafael Palmeiro, who hit .324 with 47 home runs, 148 RBIs and a .630 slugging percentage. Palmeiro finished fifth in the MVP voting.

All of that overlooks the fact that one of the best catchers in baseball history had his best season, hitting .332 with 35 home runs, 113 RBIs and a .558 slugging percentage. Rodriguez also picked up the eighth of the 13 Gold Glove Awards he would win in his career for defensive excellence.

Palmeiro played 128 games at designated hitter because of a knee problem that season. He only played 28 games at first and was still awarded his third Gold Glove. It was an interesting year for voting, but -- combining offense and defense -- it’s hard to top what Rodriguez did for the Rangers in 1999.

4. Jeff Burroughs, 1974
Burroughs had a .901 OPS for the Rangers in 1974. That ranks 28th best in club history. His .504 slugging percentage ranks 49th best. So why does he rank ahead of Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Adrián Beltré and others?

Because Burroughs helped carry the Rangers to an 84-win season after they finished 57-105 the year before. He hit .301 with 25 home runs and a league-leading 118 RBIs while playing in Arlington Stadium, a ballpark that was tough on power hitters.

Burrough’s 1974 AL MVP season has faded with time amid all the gaudy numbers put up at the Ballpark in Arlington and a different era of offense. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

5. Ruben Sierra, 1989
This was when Sierra was at his best, a beautiful combination of speed and power. He hit .306 with 29 home runs while leading the AL with 119 RBIs and a .543 slugging percentage. His MLB-leading 14 triples is still a club record. Sierra finished second to Robin Yount in the MVP voting and was not happy about it, to say the least. Sierra started getting bulkier as his career progressed and was never the same dynamic player he was in '89.

Honorable mentions:
• The best of Al Oliver's four seasons in Arlington was 1980, when he hit .319 with 19 home runs and 117 RBIs. Again, consider the ballpark and era.
• Rodriguez had three great seasons with the Rangers from 2001-03. He was the AL MVP in '03. He also admitted to using steroids while with the Rangers.
• The beauty of Palmeiro was never in one signature season, but in his ability to do it year after year at a high level.
Michael Young was another model of consistency with his annual pursuit of a .300 batting average, 200 hits and 100 runs scored.

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.