Beyond Pudge and MY, who's among the greatest in franchise history?
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
The question was posed earlier this season whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore. That certainly piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.
Texas Rangers Mt. Rushmore
The Washington Senators fumbled through the 1960s, beginning play in 1961 before moving to the Dallas area and becoming the Texas Rangers in 1972. It wasn’t until last season, when the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, that the franchise won its first playoff series. In fact, it had won only one playoff game prior to last season. So, there isn’t a strong history of winning. The Senators/Rangers have won 90 or more games just four times and lost 100 games or more six times — four times in Washington, twice in Texas. There have been only three 20-game winners. There is brief flirtation with greatness, though. Alex Rodriguez played shortstop here in his prime. Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Bert Blyleven and Nolan Ryan all spent some time as the ace of the pitching staff. Managing the Washington Senators was Ted Williams’ only managing job. He served one season in Texas after three in Washington. Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter, Mickey Vernon and Eddie Stanky all had stints leading the team from the dugout. Yet, manager Johnny Oates and Nolan Ryan are the only players whose numbers have been retired by the organization. All that is to say that the Mt. Rushmore in North Texas is still maturing. Perhaps, we shouldn’t etch these faces in stone quite yet. Beyond Pudge and Young, the arguments begin to get interesting and dicey. Here’s our take, however temporary this may be.
After spending his first 12 seasons in Texas, the nomadic catcher left prior to the 2003 season and has since won a World Series, lost a World Series, earned three Gold Gloves and made four All-Star teams. While he was with Texas, he made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and an MVP award. He has more than 1,700 hits and more than 800 runs and RBIs for the Rangers. A certain Hall of Famer, Pudge will go in the Hall as a Ranger.
There are probably no better examples of a company man in baseball. Young has excelled at three different positions, and been asked by the organization to move three times. After a couple of seasons as a second baseman, he was asked to move to short. After five All-Star seasons at the position, he was asked to move to third the year after winning a Gold Glove. He again made the All-Star team as a third baseman and was asked to assume a utility role. He’s done all that and has the most hits, runs, doubles and triples in franchise history.
The Ryan Express represents the first update for any Mt. Rushmore published last summer. Now a part owner and CEO,Ryan pitched his sixth and seventh no-hitters for the Rangers, and his roughing up of Robin Ventura is reason enough to consider the Ryan Express. However, it's his leadership that built one of the best organizations in baseball. The Rangers appeared in back-to-back World Series and are favorites to return for a third time.
Gonzalez was in a Rangers’ uniform for 13 seasons, earning two MVP awards. He led the American League in home runs twice and hit more than 40 on three other occasions. He also topped the circuit in RBIs once. He leads the franchise in home runs, RBIs and total bases.
Perhaps, if he hadn’t shaken his finger at Congress, then tested positive for steroids, Rafael Palmeiro might well be on the list. He ranks high in most statistical categories, but he was in the top eight in MVP voting just twice as a Ranger.
Charlie Hough, with his knuckleball, is the all-time wins leader with 139.
Few fans in Dallas will remember the Capital Punisher, Frank Howard, since he spent only five months in a Rangers uniform. He was a feared hitter in the 1960s, spending the majority of eight seasons with the franchise. He was the Senators’ lone star and enjoyed back-to-back-to-back seasons of 44+ home runs in 1968-70, truly a second dead ball era. He finished in the top eight in MVP voting three times for the Senators.
Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins had the best season of any pitcher in a Ranger uniform with 25 wins in 1974. In six seasons spread over two stints, Jenkins won 93 games and pitched 17 shutouts.
Jeff Burroughs became the franchise’s first major award winner with the 1974 MVP.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com