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 down to the elite eight of Ranger greats and the voting gets tougher. There was one major upset in the sweet sixteen as 13th seed Rusty Greer knocked off 4th-seeded Buddy Bell.
Vote and check back for results and to vote in the next round.
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1. Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez, C vs. 8. Adrian Beltre, 3B
The case for Rodriguez: In the top tier of greatest catchers in baseball history. American League Most Valuable Player in 1999.
The case for Beltre: In his five seasons, Rangers have reached the playoffs three times. Second all-time in batting average (.309).
2. Nolan Ryan, P vs. 7. Jim Sundberg, C
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 Sundberg: Third in games played. Top 10 in several hitting categories. Won Gold Gloves from 1976-81.
3. Juan Gonzalez, OF vs. 6. Michael Young, INF
The case for Gonzalez: Most HRs, RBIs and extra-base hits in Rangers history. Two-time AL MVP (1996 and ’98).
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.
5. Rafael Palmeiro, 1B vs. 13. Rusty Greer, 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 Greer: Batting average of .304 and is in many other top-10 categories. Remembered more for sacrificing his body in the outfield.
Sweet sixteen results
1. Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez (96%) defeats 16. Ruben Sierra (4%)
2. Nolan Ryan (94%) defeats 15. Kenny Rogers (6%)
3. Juan Gonzalez (72%) defeats 14. Ferguson Jenkins (28%)
13. Rusty Greer (57%) defeats 4. Buddy Bell (43%)
5. Rafael Palmiero (64%) defeats 12. Josh Hamilton (36%)
6. Michael Young (86%) defeats 11. Charlie Hough (14%)
7. Jim Sundberg (72%) defeats 10. Ian Kinsler (28%)
8. Adrian Beltre (85%) defeats 9. Toby Harrah (15%)