Top 10 Best Texas Rangers Players of All Time
The Texas Rangers are a Major League Baseball team based in Arlington, Texas. Formerly known as the Washington Senators, the franchise rebranded after moving to Texas, taking on the name “Rangers” as an ode to a Texas law enforcement branch. The Rangers have yet to win a World Series title, but they captured the AL Pennant in 2010 and 2011. Despite the Rangers’ lack of rings, plenty of fantastic players have played and even spent their Major League careers in Arlington. Read on to learn more about the ten best Texas Rangers of all time.
Who Are the Best Texas Rangers Baseball Players of All Time?
- Ivan Rodriguez
- Nolan Ryan
- Michael Young
- Adrian Beltre
- Alex Rodriguez
- Juan Gonzalez
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Buddy Bell
- Frank Howard
- Josh Hamilton
1. Ivan Rodriguez
- Ten-time Golden Glove recipient
- Ten-time All-Star
- 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
Ivan Rodriguez is the best Texas Rangers player of all time. Rodriguez, often referred to as “Pudge,” was the Rangers’ starting catcher from 1991 until 2002. In his most impressive season, he batted in 113 RBIs, hit 35 home runs, and held a .332 batting average. The number 7 has been retired by the Texas Rangers since 2017 in his honor.
Rodriguez won 10 Golden Gloves while in Arlington (13 total), but perhaps an even more impressive testament to his defensive prowess is that his name is one of the few often brought up alongside all-time great catchers like Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Josh Gibson. Rodriguez also won the Silver Slugger batting award on seven occasions and was the 1999 MVP. A truly excellent catcher is hard to come by for MLB teams, but Ivan Rodriguez remains one of the best to fill the position.
2. Nolan Ryan
- Eight-time All-Star
- Seven no-hitters pitched
- Holds MLB all-time record of strikeouts (5,714)
Even though Nolan Ryan didn’t make his way to Arlington until later in his career (1989-1993), his years with the Rangers were still nothing short of spectacular. Widely considered one of the best pitchers to play Major League Baseball, Ryan pitched two of his seven no-hitters in Texas and threw over 1,000 strikes. Most notably, Nolan Ryan has thrown the most strikeouts in MLB history, at 5,714. The year Nolan Ryan started with the Rangers, he was 42. Impressively, he still made the All-Star team that year, making 1989 his eighth All-Star appearance.
Ryan was inducted into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in 1999, immediately after the five-year waiting period required between retirement and induction had expired. He also briefly served as the Texas Rangers’ CEO from 2008-2011. Though his career with the Texas Rangers was short, it was memorable, and his sheer status as an MLB pitching legend places him second on this list.
3. Michael Young
- 2005 batting title
- 2,230 career hits, Rangers record
- Number 10 jersey retired by Texas
Michael Young played multiple infield positions for the Texas Rangers from 2000-2012, including shortstop, second base, and third base. Young may not be well remembered as a fielder, but his seven All-Star game collections at so many different positions speak to his versatility and ability to compete defensively.
In 2005, Michael Young won the American League batting title and led the entire MLB in hits, a feat he accomplished for a second time in 2011. Young possessed a consistently good bat. In seven out of his 11 complete seasons, he hit a .300 or higher, and it wasn’t unusual for him to smack over 200 hits a season. His 2,230 career hits place him at the very top of the Rangers’ record list. Michael Young was a true team player during his time in Texas, the backbone of Rangers’ infield and batting lineup, and a leader on the field.
4. Adrian Beltre
- Three-time All-Star
- Two Silver Sluggers
- Three Golden Gloves
Like Nolan Ryan, Adrian Beltre is another legendary player that found his way to the Rangers later in his baseball career. At 32 in 2011, Adrian Beltre spent the next eight years in Texas, securing his place as one of the most prolific third basemen in Major League Baseball. Beltre hit almost 200 home runs throughout his Ranger years, 36 of those hit in 2012, along with 102 RBIs and a .321 batting average. He would go on to total 563 RBIs in Arlington.
Uncoincidentally, the Texas Rangers made four playoff appearances while Adrian Beltre manned third base. In 2018, Adrian Beltre left the Rangers and entered retirement, meaning the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballots may have his name on them.
5. Alex Rodriguez
- Two Golden Gloves
- 14-time All-Star
- Ten Silver Slugger Awards
Alex Rodriguez may be best remembered as a Yankee, but he first spent three spectacular seasons cementing his dominance as a Major Leaguer with the Texas Rangers. During his short time in Arlington, the talented shortstop later turned third baseman Rodriguez collected 156 homers and 395 RBIs. He was an All-Star all three of these critical seasons and won Silver Sluggers in each. 2003 was the best of Rodriguez’s three Ranger seasons, where he totaled 47 home runs and 118 RBIs, winning the American League MVP.
Also referred to as “A-Rod,” Rodriguez collected both of his Golden Gloves while wearing a Ranger uniform. When the Yankees came along with a $275 million dollar, ten-year contract in 2007, Alex Rodriguez left the Rangers, going on to win his first and only World Series in New York two years later in 2009. Regardless of his status as a Yankee, some of “A-Rod’s” best years will always be in a Ranger jersey.
6. Juan González
- 1996 and 1998 MVP
- All-time Rangers’ home run leader, 372
- Three-time AL West Champion
Juan González was not only one of the Rangers’ best outfielders, but his 372 home runs make him the all-time leader of home runs in franchise history. His two American League MVP awards look impressive all on their own, but these awards garner even more respect when it’s realized that only 32 Major League Baseball players in all of history have collected multiple MVPs. In 1998, González managed a .318 batting average with 157 RBIs and 45 home runs. Juan González was an outfielder for the Texas Rangers for all but four of his 16 major league seasons.
Although González will most likely not earn a spot in Cooperstown due to performance enhancing drug (PED) use, he was affectionately nicknamed “Gone Juan” by Rangers fans, and collected three American League West Championships throughout his time in Texas. Steroid use in the MLB often brings controversy to record lists, and González is no exception to this rule. However, as of now, his importance in Rangers history remains untouched.
7. Rafael Palmeiro
- Second-most home runs in Ranger history, 321
- 13th most home runs in MLB history, 569
- 3,000 hit list in 2005
Before Gonzalez entered the scene, Rafael Palmeiro led the franchise all-time home run record with 321 homers. Rafael Palmeiro played first base and left field for the Rangers from 1989-1993 and again from 2000-2003. Also like Juan Gonzalez, much speculation surrounds Palmeiro’s career batting statistics, as he was found to be a PED user. Likely, his positive drug screening as a Baltimore Oriole in 2005 is what is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame, despite his ranking 13th in total MLB home runs and scoring over 3,000 hits.
Palmeiro was a Golden Glove winner in 1999, as well as an All-Star and Silver Slugger twice. In ten years as a Texas Ranger he managed 1,039 RBIs. His bat was critical to the Rangers success in each year he played. Palmeiro also played for the Chicago Cubs, but is most commonly remembered as a Baltimore Oriole.
8. Buddy Bell
- Six-time Golden Glove winner
- Four All-Star appearances
- 34.7 fWAR
Buddy Bell spent his most consecutive years as a Texas Ranger from 1979-1984, but he also popped in for an additional season in 1985, and again for his final year in 1989. 1980 was Bell’s most statistically impressive Ranger season, with a .329 batting average, 83 RBIs, and 40 walks. Some would argue that the poor performance of the Rangers during the years Bell spent on third base in Arlington has negatively impacted his consideration for Hall of Fame status.
Before Defensive Runs Saved was a Major League Baseball statistic, a defender’s worth was similarly measured by TZs, or Total Zone Runs. Buddy Bell is the 10th best in this statistical category in MLB history, at 174 TZ over his career. Bell was never a power hitter, another thing that may be holding Cooperstown back from an induction, but he was still an excellent batter. In seven different seasons, Bell’s on base percentage was over .350. Buddy Bell may be far from the most recognized Texas Ranger on this list, but he is still one of the best of all time.
9. Frank Howard
- Third-most home runs as a Texas Ranger, 246
- Slugging Percentage Leader, 1968
- Home Run Champion, 1968 and 1970
From 1965 to 1972, Frank Howard made his home in the Texas Ranger’s left field, but they were then based in Washington and named the Senators. Frank Howard’s place on this list is cemented by his importance to the Rangers legacy as one of the best and oldest outfielders in the franchise.
Through the final years of the 1960s into 1970, Frank Howard was leading the MLB in batting statistics. Slugging percentage leader, total bases leader, RBI leader, and home run champion are some accolades he collected through these years of his career. Howard collected respect and adoration in Washington throughout his career, earning nicknames like “The Washington Monument” and “The Capital Punisher.” Some of his best years were spent playing under MLB great’s Ted Williams’ management.
10. Josh Hamilton
- No. 1 MLB Draft pick, 1999
- Five-time All-Star
- 2010 American League MVP
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999, Josh Hamilton was Major League Baseball’s number one draft pick, however he didn’t actually begin his career until 2007. This centerfielder spent his 2008-2012 seasons with the Texas Rangers, and returned for one more in 2015.
Despite Hamilton only spending five years in Arlington, he was instrumental in the team’s regular season and postseason efforts, particularly in 2010 and 2011 when the Rangers collected AL pennants two years in a row. 2010 can be considered Josh Hamilton’s most successful season as a Texas Ranger, where he batted in 100 RBIs, hit 32 home runs, and ended with a .359 batting average.
- Charlie Hough
- Elvis Andrus
- Ferguson Jenkins
- Gaylord Perry
- Ian Kinsler
- Jim Sundberg
- Julio Franco
- Kenny Rogers
- Mark Teixeria
- Mike Hargrove
- Nelson Cruz
- Rusty Greer
- Toby Harrah
- Will Clark
Who is the best Texas Rangers player of all time?
Ivan Rodriguez is the best Texas Ranger of all time. Rodriguez played for the Texas Rangers for 12 seasons and won the Golden Glove award 13 times (ten of those consecutively). Rodriguez was also a key player in some of the best Rangers teams in history, starting at catcher in the Rangers first three AL titles, 1996, 1998, and 1999. In 2017, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame.
Which Texas Rangers player holds the record for most home runs?
Juan Gonzalez holds the Texas Ranger record of most home runs batted. Gonzalez broke former Ranger Rafael Palmeiro’s franchise record of 321 home runs. Though Palmerio has more total home runs, 559, many were hit in an Orioles uniform, making Gonzalez the team leader. Finishing his career with 434 home runs, Gonzalez became the first Puerto Rican professional baseball player to surpass 400 career homers. As of 2022, only 34 total major leaguers have hit over 400 home runs.