The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Texas Rangers

Ivan Rodriguez was one of the best players in Texas Rangers history. (via r w h)

Ivan Rodriguez was one of the best players in Texas Rangers history. (via r w h)

Paul Moehringer’s Pyramid Rating System & All-Time Teams

Aug. 27, 2015: The Pyramid Rating System: JAWS on a Career Scale

March 15, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System: The Results

Aug. 12, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System All-Time League and the All-Time Baltimore Orioles

Sept. 2, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Boston Red Sox

In this latest installment of the Pyramid Rating’s System all-time team series, we take our first look at the AL West and one of the most dominant teams in baseball over the last few years, the Texas Rangers. While the Rangers have enjoyed recent success, their past has not been as kind, going 20-plus seasons before finally making their first postseason appearance in 1996.

With the city-centric approach, their time spent in D.C. is not included on this team, so Frank Howard will not be making an appearance on this squad. Only their years from 1972 on were credited.

Franchise Included: Texas Rangers (AL) 1972-Present
No. of Hall of Famers on 25-man roster: 0
Manager: Ron Washington

A few years ago this would have been Johnny Oates, but under Washington the Rangers experienced their greatest stretch of success as a franchise, winning 9-plus+ games every year from 2010 to 2013, which also included three postseason appearances, two division titles and two American League pennants.

Washington’s 654 wins and 1275 games managed are both franchise highs for the Rangers, and his .521 winning percentage ranks as the highest in Rangers history amongst managers with at least three full seasons of experience.

Personal issues may have tainted Washington’s legacy somewhat, but the fact remains that no other manager to date has had more success at the helm of the Texas Rangers than Washington, and for that reason he is the manager of the all-time Rangers.

Best Overall Player and Position Player: Adrian Beltre

Perhaps the quietest superstar in baseball over the last several years, since arriving in Texas Beltre has transformed himself from a talented but inconsistent player into a sure-fire Hall of Fame candidate. Over his six years in Texas, Beltre has been a consistent .300 batting average/130 OPS+ hitter with two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers to his name, and he never has finished any lower than 15th in MVP voting.

In spite of all these offensive accomplishments, what’s been most impressive about Beltre is the quality of his defense in his advanced age. Even the greats experience a decline in defensive abilities as they age, but somehow Beltre has found a way to be as dominant as ever. Not since Graig Nettles has baseball seen as a good a defensive third baseman this late in his career. It could be legitimately argued at this point that Beltre is one of the five greatest defensive players ever to play the position.

With Beltre closing in on both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, he has reached first-ballot Hall of Fame status. If and when he is granted his proper place in Cooperstown, it should be with a Rangers cap.

Best Hitter: Josh Hamilton

The Rangers have featured a lot of great hitters during their history. As you will see in a bit, the Rangers–in spite of their limited franchise history–feature one of the best lineups in the all-time league, but one of the more special players has been Hamilton. Drug addiction and personality issues have cut short what might otherwise have been a Hall of Fame career. Being the No. 1 overall pick out of high school, talent was never the issue with Hamilton.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Luckily, though, we at least were able to get a glimpse of what might have been for a few years in Texas. For one year–in 2010–it all came together for Hamilton. That year Hamilton batted .359 with a .653 slugging percentage and a 1.044 OPS, all good enough to lead the American League. Lost in that season is also one of the more forgotten great postseason performances in baseball history, as Hamilton hit four home runs against the Yankees to win the ALCS MVP and lead the Rangers to their first World Series appearance in team history.

The following season, in the World Series against St. Louis, Hamilton hit one of the most forgotten great home runs in playoff history, a two-run drive in the 10th inning of Game Six to give the Rangers back the lead, 9-7, in what would prove to be one of the greatest World Series games in history.

Best Pitcher: Kenny Rogers

Obviously, in a league in which teams can go multiple Hall Of Famers deep in a rotation, Rogers is not a good pitcher to have as your No. 1 starter. There will be more on that later, but for now let’s focus on the positives of his career in Texas.

Most notably, Rogers pitched the first perfect game in Rangers history on July 28, 1994. Prior to that, Rogers had been a solid and durable reliever for the Rangers, leading the AL in games pitched in 1992 in addition to sporting a 3.09 ERA. The Rangers recently had decided to transfer Rogers to the starting rotation, where he would become one of the most durable starters in baseball over remainder of his career. For the 16 seasons Rogers was a starter, he only failed to qualify for the ERA title twice.

Although he would spend the second half of his career as a hired gun, Rogers always seemed to find his way back to Texas, pitching three separate stints for the team in what added up to a 12-year career with the team. In addition to these 12 seasons, Rogers was also selected as an All-Star three times, including back-to-back in 2004 and ’05, part of what would wind up being a three-year stretch that included a selection with the Tigers.

What might be most impressive about Rogers was his ability to completely shut down running games. Over 20 years, Rogers allowed just 60 successful steals (just three steals per season) in 154 attempts, giving runners a success rate of just 41 percent. There’s no question having Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate helped some of those numbers, but even without the added benefit of Rodriguez, Rogers still could be straight-up nasty. In the 12 games Rogers pitched as a Met with Mike Piazza as his backstop, Rogers still managed to allow just one stolen base.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Rogers also ranks amongst the all-time leaders in pickoffs and at one point was the all-time leader. Short of Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson, I’m not sure if there would be any players in the American League who would be capable of consistently stealing bases off Rogers. And even so, Rogers only presents one half of the problem. You still have one of the greatest defensive catchers in baseball history behind the plate to deal with.

Best Player Not on the Roster Due to the One-Team-Only Rule: Alex Rodriguez

The most popular player not on the team is Nolan Ryan, and like Ryan, Rodriguez is a player good enough to be on multiple teams. Without the one-team-only rule, Ryan would have made the Rangers rotation. But unlike Ryan, Rodriguez was far more dominant at every stop he made. With Texas, Rodriguez posted one of the greatest three-year stretches by any player in baseball history, batting .305 with 156 home runs, 395 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 155. Not surprisingly, A-Rod won the Silver Slugger in all three seasons and finished in the top ten of MVP voting all three years, as well, winning the award in 2003 in what would be his final season in Texas.

Rarely are players with just three seasons played with a franchise given much consideration, but few of them are legitimate MVP candidates in all three seasons. Rodriguez’s short tenure would restrict him from being considered as good as Cal Ripken, even though Rodríguez in Texas was as good as Ripken ever was in Baltimore–probably even better. But even with this restriction, the Rangers version of Rodriguez probably still would be a dark horse All-Star candidate and no doubt would have provided a major offensive upgrade to an already-potent Rangers lineup.

TEXAS RANGERS COACHING STAFF
Position Person
Manager Ron Washington
Bench Coach Johnny Oates
First Base Coach Tom Goodwin
Third Base Coach Lenny Randle
Hitting Coach Frank Catalanotto
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux
Bullpen Coach Jeff Russell
view
TEXAS RANGERS STARTING LINEUPS
DH vs RHP DH vs LHP
Pos B T Name Pos B T Name
SS R R Toby Harrah SS R R Toby Harrah
CF L L Josh Hamilton CF R R Juan González
1B S R Mark Teixeira 2B R R Ian Kinsler
DH L L Rafael Palmeiro 3B R R Adrián Beltré
LF R R Juan González RF S R Rubén Sierra
C R R Iván Rodríguez C R R Iván Rodríguez
RF L L Rusty Greer DH R R Julio Franco
3B R R Adrián Beltré 1B S R Mark Teixeira
2B R R Julio Franco LF L L Rusty Greer
vs RHP vs LHP
Pos B T Name Pos B T Name
SS R R Toby Harrah SS R R Toby Harrah
CF L L Josh Hamilton CF R R Juan González
3B R R Adrián Beltré 2B R R Ian Kinsler
1B L L Rafael Palmeiro 3B R R Adrián Beltré
LF R R Juan González RF S R Rubén Sierra
RF L L Rusty Greer C R R Iván Rodríguez
2B R R Julio Franco LF L L Rusty Greer
C R R Iván Rodríguez 1B S R Mark Teixeira
P L L Kenny Rogers P L L Kenny Rogers
TEXAS RANGERS EXPANDED ROSTER
Pos B T Name
C/1B R R Mike Napoli
  2B S R Bump Wills
  CI L R Hank Blalock
  3B R R Buddy Bell
  IF R R Michael Young
  OF R R Jeff Burroughs
  OF L R Leonys Martin
  OF S R Gary Matthews Jr.
  SP R R Jose Guzman
  SP R R Ken Hill
  SP R R Alexi Ogando
  SP R R Roger Pavlik
  RP R R Neftali Feliz
  RP R R Dale Mohorcic
  RP L L Mitch Williams

Strengths

Without question, the biggest strength on this team is its offense, which perfectly mirrors the success of their playoff teams of the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, the Rangers feature just two position players on the 25-man roster who did not play for the team in either the ’90s or 2000s.

Although the Rangers are a right-handed-heavy team, having Hamilton and Rafael Palmeiro on the roster allows the team to be just as deadly against righties as it is against lefties. Hamilton, in particular, could make for one of the toughest outs in this league for righties. A career .299 hitter with an OPS of .903 against right-handers, in 2010 he peaked with a .401 batting average against righties on the year, propelling him to that year’s batting title.

With Teixeira being a switch hitter and a better defensive player than Palmeiro, it allows Palmeiro to slide into the DH role against righties and see limited action against lefties. In fact, the Rangers are one of the more platoon-happy teams in the league. Of the nine starting player positions including the DH, five of them can see a different starter depending on whether or not the pitcher is a lefty or a righty.

Defensively on the infield, the Rangers also pretty solid. Ivan Rodriguez would no doubt be the odds-on favorite to win the Gold Glove, but the Rangers actually might have the second-best defensive catcher in the AL as well in Jim Sundberg. A six-time Gold Glove winner himself, Sundberg led AL catchers in defensive assists six times, defensive putouts six times, and was top five in runners caught stealing 12 times. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, not only was Sundberg the best defensive catcher in the American League, nobody else was even close.

The only two weak spots defensively on the infield are up the middle with Toby Harrah and Julio Franco, but this is impact is somewhat mitigated by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, both of whom can act as late-game defensive replacements and with Kinsler holding a starting role against lefties.

It’s also worth noting that the best defensive player on the Rangers may not even be on the 25-man roster. Buddy Bell could very well be the most underrated defensive player in history. Many of his contemporaries compared him to Nettles, and that comparison seems to have been a just one, as Bell ranks second all-time for defensive runs saved at third behind just Brooks Robinson. Like Robinson, Bell’s position on the Rangers is very much an unfair one relative to both how great a player he was with the Rangers and to lesser players who made the team. With Beltre firmly cemented at third, and without the bat to justify him as a DH, Bell’s skills are largely wasted on this team.

Weaknesses

The obvious one is pitching. It is a tossup between the Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays for the worst starting rotation in the American League. The Achilles heel throughout the franchise’s existence, Rogers and Charlie Hough are the only two starters I would have any confidence in going more than 150 innings. While every team carries at least ten starters, not every one necessarily will use every starter. That will not be the case with the Rangers. Even one-time All-Star Roger Pavlik would most likely be asked to take the ball for at least two starts.

The bullpen is marginally better but still amongst the league’s worst. Their closer, Jeff Zimmerman, pitched only three years for the Rangers and only became a closer in the final year of his career, but the Rangers have little else to turn to. Francisco Cordero pitched seven years for the Rangers and at his best one of the game’s best closers, but he never fully established himself as a lights-out reliever.

Jim Kern had the most dominating season of any Ranger reliever–or any Ranger pitcher for that matter–going 13-5 with a 1.57 ERA and 29 saves over 143 innings pitched, but it was the only notable season Kern ever had with the Rangers during a brief three-year tenure.

Defensively, the Rangers struggle mightily in the outfield, most notably in center field. Texas has not had a single great natural center fielder in the history of the franchise. The closest the team has had is Hamilton, and even though he saw the most amount of action in his career in center, he only played more than 100 games in center once with the Rangers and should not be considered a reliable option.

What saves the position from being a black hole is Juan Gonzalez being able to qualify for the position, having played 252 of his 1,400 career games with the Rangers in center, although to say that Gonzalez is a less-than-desirable defensive option in center field would be putting things mildly. He is arguably the worst defensive player to qualify as a center fielder on a 25-man roster in either league. A career OPS of .978 against lefties–when Gonzalez would be seeing the majority of his starts in center–makes the situation a bit more bearable, but with Hamilton’s limited ability against lefties and his proneness to injury, Gonzalez most likely will be seeing at least some action in center against righties, as well.

Every Rangers outfielder you see on the 25-man roster is there because of his bat first and foremost, and it shows, as the Rangers could have the worst defensive outfield in the American League. This probably is not a good combo to have with porous pitching in the hitter-friendly confines of Arlington, but it may help explain somewhat why the Rangers have lacked great pitching in spite of having multiple Gold Glove-caliber defensive players in the infield.

It’s worth mentioning that, despite Gonzalez’s defensive limitations, he only saw action at the DH spot in 295 games. Even with his obvious defensive limitations, not having to play Juan Gone in the outfield was rarely a luxury the Rangers could afford, and such remains the case even on their all-time team.

Having just four outfielders on the team also puts the Rangers in a situation where they never can bench more than one player at a time, but outfield depth is also an issue with the Rangers. The 40-man roster provides a bit more defensive support with Gary Mathews, Jr. and Leonys Martin, but neither has the bat to justify being a full-time starter, and Jeff Burroughs is essentially a worse less versatile version of Juan Gonzalez.

Conclusions

If this project was done twenty years ago, the Rangers would have the worst team in the American League, but in that time span perhaps no other team has improved itself more than the Texas Rangers. I still would expect to see them near–if not at–the bottom of the AL West, and I can’t envision them being anything better than a 75-win team, but they’re no longer the hands-down worst.

The lineup definitely is capable of beating any pitcher this league would throw at them, and the pitching–while still terrible–is showing signs of improvement. The back end of the rotation–comprised of Darvish, Wilson and Harrison–has emerged in the last ten years, with plenty of time for Darvish to add onto his legacy in Texas. In a few years’ time, Darvish could overtake Rogers as the No. 1 starter on this squad.

The most controversial roster move is the decision to leave Michael Young off the 25-man roster, essentially in exchange for Toby Harrah. At 13 years, Young is not only the longest-tenured Ranger not on the 25-man roster, he’s tied with Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez as the longest-tenured Ranger, period. Young is also the all-time team leader in games played, runs scored and hits. Young was also a seven-time All-Star, a former batting champion and a .301 hitter. So why the snub?

For starters, batting average is not the same as on-base percentage. Even though Harrah was just a career .259 hitter with the Rangers, there is a reason I have him batting leadoff, and that’s because of Harrah’s ability to generate walks. Five times Harrah finished in the top ten in the American League in walks, including three years in which Harrah finished no lower than second. Even though his batting average with Texas is more than 40 points lower than Young’s, his walk rate compared to Young’s is enough to give him a higher on-base percentage by ten points.

The other factor working against Young is the steroid era. As mentioned before, players were graded strictly against their counterparts, meaning OPS+ matters a lot more than OPS. With Texas, Young posted a career OPS of .791 compared to Harrah’s .745. Given Young’s experience edge, this would seem to be a slam-dunk case in favor of Young. That is, until you go to the OPS+, where Harrah actually has the advantage, 112 to 104.

Keeping in mind Harrah also struck out at a lower rate than Young even when adjusted for strikeout rate, in my opinion it’s impossible to say that Young was that much better of a hitter than Harrah without also saying hitters from the steroid era were just inherently better than hitters from the mid-to-late ’70s, which would be era bias. Given Young’s popularity, I’m sure many will disagree with this decision, and aside from Ryan, Young is arguably the next best-known Ranger not on the 25-man roster.

The biggest thing lacking from the Rangers is the absence of a true franchise great in the mold of a Stan Musial, a Ted Williams or even a Mike Trout. Many would consider Ryan to be the franchise player for the Rangers, and in 2006 Ryan was named by the fans as the Rangers’ “hometown hero,” but this vote was largely sentimental. Ryan only pitched five years with the Rangers and was only effective in three of them. Even without the one-team only rule, Ryan still wouldn’t be the No. 1 starter for the Rangers.

Beltre may go down as the first player in history to make it to the Hall of Fame mainly because of what he did with the Rangers, but even he has still played less than half of his career in Texas and needs those other 12 years to cement his HOF case. Until that situation changes, the Rangers will remain one of the worst teams in the league, but hope is very much on the horizon given their recent success. If it can be sustained for the next few seasons, the Rangers could see find themselves contending with the Royals, Twins and A’s for the division title in the near future. A few more years like the one Texas is having this year certainly will help.

The Rangers may be missing the star power to be taken seriously, but the foundation for a solid team one day is there. A true No. 1 starter or a solid defensive center fielder would do wonders to change the dynamic of this team, but if nothing else, a few more years like this one should also improve the Rangers down the road.

The final thing to mention about this Ranger squad is that, unlike the Orioles and Red Sox, which both feature rosters comprised almost entirely of players born in the United States, the Rangers are a team with a clear international and Latin influence. Eight of the 25 players on the active roster were born outside of the mainland United States, the highest percentage amongst any of the 36 teams. Not only is this reflective of the demographic makeup of Ranger teams over the past few decades, but also the major leagues as a whole.

This also will be reflected in other teams with shorter histories or recent success, but a solid argument could be made that no other team has benefitted more from the influx of Latin and international players into the majors than the Texas Rangers. And there may be no better argument for it than the number of players on this all-time Rangers team who were born in Latin America or elsewhere abroad.


Paul Moehringer is a data analyst, a SABR member and inventor of the Pyramid Rating System; originally from Mount Olive, NJ, now living in Westwood, MA. Follow him on Twitter @PMoehringer.
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Carl
5 years ago

I’ve been loving the series of article Paul, but somehow there needs to be a steroids asterisk on some of these players, and it really appears with the Rangers.

Also, why no Richie Zisk? I consider him a better speed/combo player than Greer, and when adjusted for time period, I would think his last 1970s stats would be superior to Greer’s steroid-era stats.

Carl
5 years ago

How close was Buddy Bell, who won 6 gold gloves at third and was a 4x All Star and 5x had down-ballot MVP votes to making the 25 man roster instead of just being on the 40-man roster?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Carl

Thanks for the feedback.

A couple things with PED’s. One of the reasons I don’t hold it against guys that used them is because I can’t. I can only hold it against the guys that got caught and seeing how widespread it was (and probably still is) there’s no way I can filter out the guilty parties without also giving credit to guilty parties.

I also equate it to the HOF’s integrity argument in terms of it being a pure negative. Nobody’s HOF argument is bolstered for being nice the same way as nobody gets credit for being clean during the steroid era. If you used, the attitude is you shouldn’t be in the HOF. If you didn’t use the attitude seems to be something along the lines of that’s nice I guess.

Aside from your long term health, as far as I can tell there was no incentive to being clean during the steroid era. Your stats go down, your salary goes down and your reward for following the rules is you don’t get punished. It essentially amounts to a tax on good behavior and when you do that, I don’t know how surprised you can be when guys stop behaving.

The steroid conversation I think has been beaten death already and I’m not trying to add to it, so that will be the limit of my comments on the issue.

With Richie Zisk he only played three years with the Rangers (which is all I’m going on) as opposed to Greer’s nine, had a lower OPS+ than Greer and defensively at best its a wash between the two. If Zisk had the same type of career with the Rangers as he did with the Pirates and White Sox, it would be a different story, but just looking at Rangers stats, its no contest between Zisk and Greer.

With Buddy Bell how close was it to him making the 25-man roster, extremely close. If I didn’t include Beltré’s 2015 season, Bell would be the team’s starting third baseman. The type of year that Beltré is having this year I has put some distance between him and Bell, but I’d take Buddy Bell over almost every other position player you see on the 25-man roster.

Big Al
5 years ago

Wow, I must really have the express, mick the quick, and gaylord overrated.

John G.
5 years ago
Reply to  Big Al

No, the paragraphs about the One-Team-Only Rule address this. Two other MLB franchises have much stronger claims on Ryan. It will be interesting to see which of those teams Mr. Moehringer assigns Ryan to. Perry did more with two (arguably three) teams other than the Rangers.

As fun as it is to remember Mickey Rivers, he was a full-time player for only about two years in Texas, with diminished defense. As one who had forgotten that Rivers had a very good season with the Rangers, I, for one particularly appreciate your mention of him, nonetheless.

Scott
5 years ago

Great article. I figured from the start that Ryan wouldn’t be on the team, same for ARod. The biggest surprise was initially Kevin Brown, one of the most underrated players in baseball history. Looking at his stats it looks like he’ll be on the Dodgers. It’s a little odd how he had his best years late in his career during an offensive era…

Total agree about the catchers. Is there any team other than the Yankees that has two players better than those on the Rangers?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott

I’m in total agreement with you about Brown being one of the most underrated players of all-time. A solid argument can be made that from 1996-2000 Kevin Brown was the best pitcher in the National League. He had an ERA+ of 164 in that timespan and never pitched any fewer than 230 innings in a season and all that got him was a chop liver treatment by the Hall of Fame.

In a way he was the inspiration for this whole thing, because I thought he should have been a near lock for the Hall and when he got thrown off the first ballot, I stopped taking the HOF seriously as an evaluator of talent.

There’s no steroid cloud surrounding Brown that I’m aware of and that’s when my thinking went from “boy the writers must really have a problem with steroid users” to “boy the writers must really have a problem with players over the last 30 years.”

As it relates to this, because Brown jumped around so much, he’s overall ability is not going to be properly reflected. If this just a plain 36 team league where guys evaluated on their entire career and were free to move and go wherever they wanted to, Brown would be a #2 starter on a good team, and a #3 on a great team.

Behind the plate Sundberg is good enough to start for roughly half the teams in league and Pudge is Pudge, so no there’s not a lot of teams out there that can even hold a candle to what Texas has. Amongst the other teams in their division (Angels, Royals, Twins, Oakland A’s and Mariners) they are by far the strongest at that position.

Scott
5 years ago

I think he should have won the MVP in 1998, but there was no way that in the year the home run record was broken, the MVP would have gone to pitcher.

I think his personality and the large contract had a lot to do with him dropping off the ballot after the first attempt.

He was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. By and large, I don’t think it’s the big of a deal.

“His name came up in the Mitchell Report in 2007, tying him to Kirk Radomski whom he met through Paul Lo Duca. That was supported by a shipping receipt from 2004. Radomski stated that Brown was very knowledgeable about PEDs before he purchased any from him and sold him HGH about 5-6 times after 2001.”

http://www.complex.com/sports/2012/07/the-25-best-alleged-and-confirmed-steroid-users-in-baseball-history/steroids-21

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Brown didn’t even get Cy Young that year which is way bigger ripoff than MVP. Aside from win-loss Brown was either as good or better than Glavine in every major statistical category for pitchers.

At best I’d say he’s overlooked and worst I would say the writers just flat out have it in for the guy.

I wasn’t aware that he was named in the Mitchell report, but like I said I don’t think it had much to do with it. There’s other guys who were far more connected than Brown who didn’t get tossed after one ballot.

With PED use being held against guys I’ve always wondered how much of that is legitimate outrage and how much of it is code for “I don’t like this guy.”

Joe Pancake
5 years ago

“… how much of it is code for ‘I don’t like this guy.’”

David Ortiz will be an interesting test case. If lovable Papi, a fringe candidate with strong PED ties (mentioned in Mitchell report, trains in D.R. with PED-linked trainer, good friend Manny Ramirez was suspended for PED masking, etc.), is elected to the Hall of Fame, while the greatest hitter and greatest pitcher of their generation (at least) are kept out, I think we have our answer.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago

Most definitely. You don’t hear nearly the kind of vitriol coming from the writers about Ortiz that you hear for guys like Arod, Bonds and Clemens.

You have guys like Bob Ryan swearing up and down that they would never vote for these guys, but also saying they consider Big Papi a future HOFer.

Either they’re lying about how much this stuff really bothers them, or they don’t care, so long its their guy that’s doing it.

Paul G.
5 years ago

I’ll copy and paste my comment about Kevin Brown from a prior thread that discussed his prompt dismissal from the HOF ballot:

“Kevin Brown is part of the PED group. He was on the Mitchell Report. He also gets demerits for a mediocre playoff resume, never winning a Cy Young, only winning 20 games once, being a disappointment once he was playing in the LA and NYC markets, and for being, reportedly, a jerk.”

“Also, I absolutely agree that being a jerk should not be a bar to the Hall of Fame, and I don’t really care what kind of jerk he was for that matter. However, if you have a Hall of Fame voter on the fence about someone, the fact that the candidate is unlikable hurts. Brown’s numbers are clear Hall of Famer, but the PEDs make voters reluctant. He lacks both the overwhelming qualifications like Bonds and Clemens, and he really does not have much “extra” to sell to make voters reconsider. If Brown owned 5 CYAs, won 20 games four times, and was a World Series hero, he almost certainly would have survived the first ballot even with the PEDs. The jerk behavior just makes it easier to say “no.””

P. Enis
5 years ago

Steroid players have bigger balls but smaller bats. I was a ballboy. Serviced many a man to completion in my day. Dried out balls like a humidor.

John G.
5 years ago

Nice to see the series continue, thank you. Coming up with viable rosters, under these constraints, makes for good reading and potentially interesting questions/comments. After all the attention in the previous article to giving Boston an elite OF defense, I’m surprised that Leonys Martin’s franchise top ten dWar (baseball-reference) didn’t earn him a seat on the bench as the fourth OF, instead of Sierra.

While I recognize, as noted in the article, that Martin’s offensive upside is limited, and also he didn’t play in Texas for a long time (notwithstanding his overall defensive ranking), wasn’t Sierra basically a poor defensive corner OF who hit LHPs well? The explanation given for leaving Manny Ramirez off of the BoSox roster was that Manny’s strength at hitting LHPs wasn’t enough to justify the loss of OF defense.

Perhaps the late Johnny Oates might advise Ron Washington to double-switch Martin (LHB) and Andrus (RHB) in, together, when a game’s situation calls for late-inning defense, and bury deeper in the order the bat that would be more vulnerable against the opponent’s bullpen. Having both Martin and Andrus on the bench could also give more flexibility if/when a pinch-runner might be useful.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  John G.

Thanks for the positive words. Glad you enjoy it.

Leonys Martin I think is hands down the best defensive outfielder the Rangers have ever had.

What kills him is the fact that he only has a career OPS+ of 82 and just 1461 plate appearances with the Rangers. In this league he would be a .200 singles hitter and I don’t care how good of a defensive player you are, that’s just way too much of a pill to swallow to justify a spot on the team.

What’s different about this situation from the Red Sox is the quality of players were taking about. Even though they may not be quite offensive player that Manny was, both Evans and Lynn have led the AL in OPS on two occasions. They’re still going to be tough outs to get. I don’t see much of an offensive drop off between Manny and either of those two. With Sierra and Martin we’re going from a guy who drove in 100+ runs three times with the Rangers to a guy who’s never driven in 50.

The Rangers also only have four players who can play in the outfield on the 25-man roster as opposed the Red Sox five, so there’s not a lot of platooning I can really do. I don’t have Josh Hamilton in the regular lineup against lefties but I couldn’t hide him the same way as I could Fred Lynn over the course of a 162 game season. I’m expecting all four outfielders to play in at 100 games, so Hamilton is seeing at least some action against lefties. There’s no getting around it and it would be the same thing with Leonys Martin. I couldn’t just use him as a late game defensive replacement or just bat him from one side of the plate. He would have to face lefties and it would be ugly.

He’ll be a nice September call up as a late game defensive sub and possible pinch runner but unfortunately that’s about it.

Kenion
5 years ago

Great read, Paul! Very fascinating, and I really respect and appreciate all the research and work you surely put into a project like this. The product certainly shows such.

Its really intriguing when when you look at Adrian Beltre and see just how great his career really has been. I don’t know of many other athletes who’ve knocked on the door of the kind of milestones he’s approaching with so little publicity to the point of approaching them almost sneakily. Though before my time, I assume it’s kind of like Don Sutton I guess; just consistently and quietly did his job until one day you woke up, grabbed the paper and was like “oh wow, that guy could win #300 tonight?”

But what’s crazy is that Beltre could possibly get 3,000 hits and 500 HR’s; he does that, and he’ll be in pretty elite company. He may not have the rings or the publicity or star power, but should he get that far in the record books, it’s going to be extremely difficult (for me at least) to look back on him and not consider him one of the best players of my generation.

So although the Rangers would likely be at the bottom of an all-time AL (a point which I agree with), at least they would boast a generational great on the roster in Beltre.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Kenion

Thanks for the kind words.

I can’t really explain why Beltre hasn’t got more attention or appreciation. I know in LA and to a lesser extent Seattle he largely seen as a great defensive third baseman, but also a bit of an underachiever.

Hindsight being 20/20 I’m not so sure if Beltre would have been better served spending an extra year or two in the minors before getting called up. He could always play defense, but the bat didn’t really become a consistent weapon for him until he got to Boston.

A lot people don’t know but Beltre played the entire ’04 season on a left bad ankle and that was the same year that he led the NL in home runs. To play with it he had to favor his right one which as a righty meant staying back on the ball. When he got to Seattle he went back to his old style which also meant being out more in front of the ball which meant he was also pulling the ball more and striking out more on breaking pitches.

When he got to Boston he started staying back again, his offensive started to mirror what he was doing his last year in LA and he’s been at that level ever since. Had he made and stuck with that adjustment earlier I don’t we would be talking about an underrated superstar.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago

*bad left ankle.

BobDD
5 years ago

Shouldn’t Chuck Norris be on the coaching staff?

Eric Pulsifer
5 years ago

Wonder if it would have made much difference if you included their Washington Senators days in the ’60s? Probably not. Those Senators created new levels of suck since they started in ’61, and the only player I could see on this list is Frank Howard.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago

There is some bullpen help to be had in the form of Darold Knowles, but you’re right in that Howard is the only real significant difference maker to be found from that team.

If he was eligible he would most likely be taking the spot of Mark Teixeira. Even though I have him listed as their primary starting first baseman, I’d rather Palmeiro on the team. Palmeiro would go to first against righties and Howard would DH. Against lefties Howard would be the easy choice to play first.

The downside is that your losing Teixeira’s defense. It may not make much of a difference with Palmeiro in the field, but against lefties where Palmeiro is out of the lineup anyway, it would be very noticeable and I would be banking on Howard’s bat to make up the difference.

I’d much rather Howard in place of Greer, but I don’t think I can do that. He would be pigeonholed out in left which in turn would pigeonhole Juan Gonzalez in center and if you thought the Rangers outfield was defensively porous before, now were adding in one of the most historically bad defensive outfielders of all-time.

Greer would be a major offensive downgrade and far from a Gold Glover himself, but he’s at least competent in the field and allows for a platoon setup with Ruben Sierra in right, which in turn gives me a lot more versatility than what I would have with Howard. If I ever wanted to bench Greer, it would be probably against lefties where I could slide Gonzalez back over to left and put Hamilton in center.

Paul G.
5 years ago

“Beltre may go down as the first player in history to make it to the Hall of Fame mainly because of what he did with the Rangers…”

Ivan Rodriguez is not going to beat him to it?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

I’m not really sure.

Resume wise Rodriguez should get in easily, but Pudge has some PED issues of his own and I don’t know how much the voters will hold that against him.

tyke
5 years ago

http://www.hallofstats.com/franchise/tex

i love this site, and reference it whenever possible. i love the formulas used to determine the “hall rating” (where 100 is an average HOF, similar to wrc+). based solely on time accumulated with the team (dating back to ’61), here is their all-time TEX team:

All-Time Team
by Hall Rating with the Texas Rangers
(known issues and limitations)
C: Ivan Rodriguez (115)
1B: Rafael Palmeiro (76)
2B: Ian Kinsler (65)
3B: Buddy Bell (76)
SS: Alex Rodriguez (54)
LF: Frank Howard (44)
CF: Josh Hamilton (43)
RF: Juan Gonzalez (51)
P: Kenny Rogers (61)
Bench

C: Jim Sundberg (75)
3B: Adrian Beltre (64)
3B: Toby Harrah (57)
1B: Mark Teixeira (39)
SS: Julio Franco (38)
3B: Ken McMullen (38)
LF: Rusty Greer (36)
Bullpen

P: Charlie Hough (54)
P: Fergie Jenkins (38)
P: Nolan Ryan (29)
P: Kevin Brown (28)
P: Gaylord Perry (28)
P: Yu Darvish (25)
P: Jon Matlack (23)
P: C.J. Wilson (23)
P: Jose Guzman (22)

tyke
5 years ago
Reply to  tyke

also, i do not believe this includes 2016 stats, which would be updated after the conclusion of the regular season. beltre could leap into the starting lineup, darvish will rise some as well.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  tyke

Sites like that are part of the reason why I have the kind of restrictions in that I do instead of doing a straight ranking system.

The only debate you can have with that is who was better than who and not that it can’t be an interesting conversation to have, but its very one dimensional and its only an intriguing if the players were talking about are actually close together in overall ability.

With this there’s so much more you need to consider. What I find interesting is that even though this series will feature over 1,400 different players when all is said and done, people are still brining up guys like Mickey Rivers who are not on any 40-man roster and really didn’t even get close. It tells you how many quality players in Major League history there really are and how disproportionately loaded some teams are going to be.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago

*can be an interesting conversation to have

Frank Jackson
5 years ago

To say leaving Michael Young off the roster is “controversial” doesn’t begin to describe his omission.

I am holding in my hand the final issue of the Texas Rangers Magazine for 2016. In it there is an article about Young’s induction into the Ranger Hall of Fame this past season. Included is a page pertaining to his offensive career stats. He is the all-time franchise leader in games (1,823), at-bats (7,399), runs (1,085), hits (2,230), doubles (415), Triples (55), total bases (3,286), .300 seasons (7), and multi-hit games (651).

Not too shabby, eh?