It’s that time of year, when the end of college basketball (the Final Four) converges with the beginning of the major league baseball season (Opening Day). This year, the National Championship game and Opening Day happen to fall on the same day, Monday, April 4. To honor this occasion, we’ve mashed up the two by creating a bracket to see who fans think is the Texas Rangers’ greatest player of all time.
We’re starting with a Sweet 16 of Ranger greats, everyone from Pudge to Buddy Bell. Cast your votes, and we’ll progress through each round every other day leading up to big day (April 4).
Vote and check back for results and to vote in the next round.
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1. Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez, C vs. 16. Ruben Sierra, OF
The case for Rodriguez: In the top tier of greatest catchers in baseball history. American League Most Valuable Player in 1999.
The case for Sierra: One of the few bright spots at the plate during the late-’80s/early-’90s. Monster year in 1989.
2. Nolan Ryan, P vs. 15 Kenny Rogers, P
The case for Ryan: Brought credibility to a franchise that had none. Reached the 5,000-strikeout mark and had two no-hitters.
The case for Rogers: Pitched the Rangers’ only perfect game in 1994. Franchise leader in most games pitched.
3. Juan Gonzalez, OF vs. 14. Ferguson Jenkins, P
The case for Gonzalez: Most HRs, RBIs and extra-base hits in Rangers history. Two-time AL MVP (1996 and ’98).
The case for Jenkins: 17 shutouts (most by five), 90 complete games (second) and most wins in season (25).
4. Buddy Bell, 3B vs. 13. Rusty Greer, OF
The case for Bell: Fan favorite snagged six consecutive Gold Gloves (1979-84) and was dependable at the plate (.293 batting average).
The case for Greer: Batting average of .304 and is in many other top-10 categories. Remembered more for sacrificing his body in the outfield.
5. Rafael Palmeiro, 1B vs. 12. Josh Hamilton, OF
The case for Palmeiro: Top five in most of the hitting categories that matter. Second in games, HRs, RBIs, runs and extra-base hits.
The case for Hamilton: Led the team to two World Series. In 2010, hit .359 which is the best batting average in a season for a Ranger (also won AL MVP).
6. Michael Young, INF vs. 11. Charlie Hough, P
The case for Young: Most games in Rangers history. As well as most hits, runs, doubles, triples, total bases, multi-hit games and infield hits.
The case for Hough: Knuckleballer’s 10-year Rangers career left him at the top in wins (139), complete games (98) and strikeouts (1,452).
7. Jim Sundberg, C vs. 10. Ian Kinsler, 2B
The case for Sundberg: Third in games played. Top 10 in several hitting categories. Won Gold Gloves from 1976-81.
The case for Kinsler: Part of the 2010-12 playoff nucleus. Top 10 in games, HRs, RBIs, hits,stolen bases, runs and several others.
8. Adrian Beltre, 3B vs. 9. Toby Harrah, INF
The case for Beltre: In his five seasons, Rangers have reached the playoffs three times. Second all-time in batting average (.309).
The case for Harrah: Top 10 in many hitting categories, including second for walks and seventh in RBIs.
Almost made it in
Alex Rodriguez: Had three of the best seasons batting in Rangers history. Won AL MVP.
Elvis Andrus: Franchise leader in stolen bases. Top-ten in hits (ninth), runs (ninth) and triples (third).
Julio Franco: Mainly because of his cool batting stance and his high batting average (.307).
Jeff Burroughs: One of the few reasons to watch the Rangers in their early years, he won AL MVP in 1974.