Best Texas Rangers Players Of All Time: Top 5 Legendary Athletes, According To Experts

Everything is bigger in Texas – even the professional sports teams. From the Dallas Cowboys to the Houston Astros, Texas has several professional sports teams. Texas fields at least two pro teams across three major leagues – the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Football League (NFL). To help honor the Lonestar State’s legacy in professional sports, we’re breaking down the best Texas Rangers players of all time. 

The Texas Rangers have certainly had some all-time great players come through the organization over the years, and according to a recent study, sports fans prefer teams that succeed with homegrown talent. A recent poll of 2,000 sports fans found that fans overwhelmingly prefer championship teams comprised of ‘homegrown’ drafted players over championship rosters built with expensive free-agent players. Of course, this makes sense, especially when you look at some of the big free-agent contracts and then compare the productivity associated with many of those players and their enormous contracts. 

Regardless of whether your favorite team is comprised of drafted players or pricey free agents, chances are you can’t wait to watch them play in person. And, according to a recent study, sports fans are willing to travel and spend good money just to watch their favorite teams perform in person. A recent survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fanatics sought to uncover the lengths that sports fans are willing to go to in order to see their favorite teams and players perform. The survey found that the average sports fan is willing to travel an astonishing five hours and 48 minutes plus spend an average of $762 on tickets to a game or event to watch their favorite team. Luckily, the Rangers play in Arlington, Texas, which is situated between Dallas and Ft. Worth, and that’s a great summertime destination for traveling baseball fans. Just be sure to bring your sunscreen

So, which players are considered to be among the greats? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 sports and baseball sites in an effort to bring you a consensus list of the best Rangers players of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed athletes from across these sites and delivers them to you. Think we missed a legend? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

Baseball stadium
Baseball stadium (Photo by Daniel Lee on Unsplash)

The List: Best Texas Rangers Players, According to Sports Fans

1. Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez (1991-2002 & 2009)

The top spot on the list of the best Rangers players of all time belongs to Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez. Pudge Rodriguez is widely considered one of the five best catchers in MLB history and he’s easily the best player in Rangers franchise history. 

“Puerto Rican-born backstop Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez is on the short list of greatest catchers in the history of the game, and the vast majority of his illustrious career was spent in Texas. Rodriguez debuted for the Rangers midway through the ’91 campaign and almost instantly became a star. In the just over 1,500 games he ended up playing with Texas, he slashed a phenomenal .304/.341/.488 with 217 homers, 842 RBI, 352 doubles, 28 triples, and 81 stolen bases. Rodriguez was named to the American League all-star team ten times, won ten Gold Glove awards, took home six Silver Sluggers, and most impressively, was named the MVP of the AL in 1999,” writes Yardbarker.  

With 10 Gold Gloves, an American League (AL) MVP, and six Silver Slugger Awards to his name, Pudge Rodriguez is undoubtedly one of the best Rangers players of all time as well as one of the best catchers MLB has ever seen. Pudge was elected to the Hall of Fame as a result of his amazing accomplishments on the baseball field. 

“One of the most complete catchers the sport has ever seen, Rodriguez spent parts of 13 seasons with the Rangers, making 10 All-Star teams and riding one of the strongest arms in baseball history to 10 Gold Glove Awards during his time as a Ranger. Despite Jose Canseco tying Rodriguez to PED use, ‘Pudge’ was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. That same summer, the Rangers retired his No. 7,” writes Audacy

Ivan Rodriguez garners comparisons to another all-time great catcher in Johnny Bench. However, Johnny Bench can’t boast about throwing out the best base stealer in the history of baseball twice in one game. That’s right, Pudge Rodriguez once gunned down Rickey Henderson twice in one game and he’s the only catcher to ever do that.   

“Pudge is in the only other catcher whom people will mention in the same paragraph as Johnny Bench. Rodriguez won 13 Gold Glove awards, including 10 in a row with the Rangers from 1992 to 2001, and remains one of the only catchers who can claim to throw out Rickey Henderson twice in one game. Pudge will be remembered for the great baseball play yes, but will also be remembered for what he did for the Texas franchise in the eyes of baseball. He led Texas to their first, second and third AL West titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Rodriguez will be very hard to unseat from [his] throne atop the Rangers all-time list,” explains Bleacher Report

2. Adrian Beltre (2011-2018)

Next up on the list of the best Rangers players of all time is none other than legendary third baseman, Adrian Beltre. Beltre played in Texas during the final years of his career, but make no mistake about it, Beltre is beloved by Rangers fans. 

“Adrian Beltre spent the final eight of his 21 Major League seasons patrolling the hot corner in Texas, and was an emphatic fan favorite during his entire Rangers tenure. In 1,098 games with the team he slashed .304/.357/.509 with 199 homers, 699 RBI, 239 doubles, and 10 triples. Beltre made three all-star teams while with Texas, led the league with 199 hits in 2013, and won three Gold Glove awards as well as three Silver Sluggers. He never won the award but finished in the top 10 in the AL MVP voting five times as a Ranger, and drove in over 100 runs for the team three times. Texas retired his number 29 in 2019,” explains Yardbarker

Adrian Beltre definitely found a home with the Texas Rangers, and some fans could argue that he played his very best baseball during his time in Arlington. After the age of 30, Beltre joined the Rangers and transformed into one of the best third basemen in the entire league. 

“Beltré didn’t join the Rangers until his age-32 season, but Texas is where he became one of the greatest third basemen in MLB history. In eight seasons with the Rangers, Beltré hit nearly 200 home runs, while winning the Platinum Glove Award as the best defender in the American League in both 2011 and 2012. Beltré’s No. 29 was retired by the Rangers in June of 2019, and there’s no doubt that when he’s elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2024 he’ll be wearing a Rangers hat on his plaque,” adds Audacy

It remains to be seen whether Beltre will find his way to Cooperstown, but one thing is for sure, Adrian Beltre is beloved by Rangers fans. One can only imagine what Beltre’s career would’ve looked like had he played his entire career with the Texas Rangers. 

“After traveling around the league with three other teams, Adrian Beltre settled on the Rangers to end his career. He along with Elvis Andrus formed a very fun pair on the left side of the diamond to watch as they had a love-hate relationship. While his numbers weren’t as good as before, Beltre provided the Rangers with a great middle of the order bat and great defense. He won three Gold Gloves and made three All Star games with Texas and became one of their best hitters during the 2010s,” furthers Lineups

3. Rafael Palmeiro (1989-1993 & 1999-2003)

The third spot on the list of the best Rangers players of all time belongs to Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro was a power-hitting first baseman and designated hitter for the Rangers, and although he was found to have used steroids, Palmeiro is still one of the best Rangers players in history. 

“Palmeiro hit 321 home runs and accumulated 1,692 hits, which are second and fourth in franchise history, respectively. Palmeiro tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during the 2005 season in August of 2005, weeks after he recorded his 3,000th hit and less than six months after he defiantly told a congressional committee that he had never taken steroids. While that positive test — which he claims was because of ‘a tainted B12 sample’ — came while he was playing for the Baltimore Orioles, it created questions about the legitimacy of his entire career,” explains Audacy

Palmeiro waved his finger at a Congressional Committee and adamantly told them he did not use steroids. Although these allegations occurred while Palmiero was playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Palmeiro’s reputation as an all-time great Texas Rangers player is tainted. 

“First baseman Rafael Palmeiro played two separate five-year stints in Arlington, and both times provided the Rangers with one of the best left-handed run producers in the game, In the 10 total seasons Palmeiro spent in Texas he slashed a terrific .290/.378/.519 with 321 home runs, 1,039 RBI, and 321 doubles. He wore a Rangers hat in a pair of all-star games, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger, and impressively drove in over 100 runs for the Rangers six times. Palmeiro’s name got stained by his attachment to steroids and his botched appearance in a congressional hearing about the issue, but let’s not dismiss just how talented he was between the white lines,” furthers Yardbarker

Rafael Palmeiro is second all-time in franchise history with over 300 home runs and he’s fourth all-time in Rangers history with over 1,600 hits. In all, Palmeiro smashed over 500 home runs and played for over 12 seasons with several different MLB teams, but amassed most of his stats with the Rangers. 

“Palmeiro spent the majority of his career with the Rangers, earning an All-Star selection and making the All-Star team 4 times. He is considered one of the best first basemen in Rangers history and holds several club records,” adds Sport Relics

4. Michael Young (2000-2012)

The fourth spot on the list of the best Rangers players of all time goes to Michael Young. For most of the early 2000s, Michael Young was the unquestioned leader of the Texas Rangers and his willingness to change positions made him adored by Rangers fans.

“That doesn’t change the fact Young has hit .300 or better in seven of his 11 full MLB seasons—all of which have been with Texas. There was also a period where he and Ichiro Suzuki were always battling it out to be the AL hits leader every season. Suzuki won all but two of those titles. Young has been a perennial All-Star, making it to six consecutive games from 2004-2009. What matters more than his stats is the leadership he has provided in Texas over the years. Not many players would take too kindly to being moved around in infield as much as Young has,” explains Bleacher Report

Michael Young celebrates as he rounds the bases
“Mike Young” by kendrick on Openverse (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

Michael Young was one of the best hitters in MLB for several years. Throughout the early 2000s, Michael Young and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners battled back and forth for the hits title. Young always found himself on the losing end of the MLB hits title, until 2005.    

“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 .300 or higher, and it wasn’t unusual for him to smack over 200 hits in 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,” raves Rookie Road

Michael Young was a team player in the truest sense of the term, and his teammates and Rangers fans absolutely loved him and the way he played. Young was willing to do whatever it took to put his Rangers in the best position to succeed. 

“Young may not have been a star defender, but he was a hits machine during his 13 seasons with the Rangers. Young led baseball in hits during both the 2005 and 2011 seasons, also winning the American League batting title when he hit .331 in 2005. His 2,230 hits are most in franchise history. The Rangers retired the seven-time All-Star’s No. 10 in August of 2019,” furthers Audacy

5. Nolan Ryan (1989-1993)

Nolan Ryan is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in MLB history, and rightfully so. Nolan Ryan was an intimidating force on the mound, and his strikeout numbers prove that. “While Nolan Ryan didn’t play the majority of his career or spend his prime with Texas, he currently serves as the CEO of the team and was elected to the Hall of Fame with the Rangers. Therefore, we’ll consider Ryan as the pick for pitcher here and it’s not close. He had a career WAR of 81.2 and is considered as one of the top 10-15 pitchers of all time. With Texas, he still had good command and strikeout numbers though he surely wasn’t the same workhorse. He leads the MLB all time in strikeouts,” writes Lineups

Nolan Ryan might have been older when he joined the Rangers, but he was highly effective on the mound. Ryan threw two of his no-hitters as a member of the Texas Rangers, and he was over 40 years old, too. “Even at the age of 42, Ryan still produced like few Rangers pitchers have. He had two no-hitters, almost 1,000 strikes and one awesome punch-out of Robin Ventura. Ryan even managed to make an All-Star appearance at 42 and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting that season. It still remains to be seen, but if Ryan can help bring a World Series or two to Texas, he might just move into that first spot,” adds Bleacher Report

Clearly, Nolan Ryan is one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball. Nolan Ryan collected over 5,000 strikeouts over the course of his illustrious career, with 1,000 of those coming as an older member of the Rangers pitching staff. 

“Even though Nolan Ryan didn’t make his way to Arlington until later in his career (1989-1993), her 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 1,000 [strikeouts]. Most notably, Nolan Ryan has thrown the most strikeouts in MLB history, at 5,714,” furthers Rookie Road.  

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