They say everything’s bigger in Texas, which couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to baseball. The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have been home to some of the greatest players to take the field. Today I’m looking at some of the all-time greats from each franchise to build what I think could be the all-time Texas baseball team; here’s a look.
Catcher: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Texas Rangers.
Pudge was one of the greatest catchers of all time. Rodriguez spent 13 of his 21 seasons in the MLB with the Rangers, batting .304 and boasting a .341 OBP with Texas. Pudge is second in Rangers history in hits and doubles, with 1,747 hits and 352 doubles. Rodriguez was also named an all-star in ten consecutive seasons and won 10 straight Gold Gloves.
Pudge had a career .991 fielding percentage, threw out 661 runners, and a 28.7 defensive WAR, which ranks the highest amongst catchers all-time and eighth best of all position players. Ivan also spent just one season with the Astros in 2009 and batted .251 with an OBP of .280 and 34 RBIs.
First Baseman: Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros.
The Boston Red Sox traded Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros in arguably the best trade in Astros history. Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career with the Astros and, during that time, had 2,314 hits, 449 home runs, 1.529 RBIs, and an OBP of .408. Bagwell also won the 1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 NL MVP, three Silver Slugger awards, a Gold Glove, and was an all-star four times en route to his Hall of Fame induction in 2017.
Bagwell’s career was ultimately cut short due to a lingering shoulder injury that caused him to only play in 39 games during the Astros World Series run in 2005.
Second Baseman: Craig Biggio, Houston Astros
This was a difficult decision between Craig Biggio and Rangers Michael Young, but after taking some time to review stats, Biggio takes the cake. Like his teammate Bagwell, Biggio spent his whole career with the Houston Astros, which lasted 20 years. Craig Biggio is the Astros’ all-time leader in hits with 3,060 and the only Astro with over 10,000 at-bats. Biggio also became the first Astros player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2015.
Biggio was a seven-time all-star, five-time Silver Slugger, and won four Gold Gloves. Biggio was also an all-star off the field, most known for his involvement with the Sunshine Kids foundation, for which he’s helped raise millions of dollars in support.
Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers
A-Rod spent just three of his 22 seasons in the MLB with the Texas Rangers, but he made the most of his time in Texas. Rodriguez was signed as a free agent by the Rangers to a 10-year $252 million deal but was eventually traded following the 2003 season to the New York Yankees. During his time with Texas, A-Rod was an all-star, won the Silver Slugger award in his three seasons with the team, and won the American League MVP in his final season with the team.
Rodriguez has the highest slugging percentage in Rangers history, .615, and the second-best OBP with a .395. He also led the league in WAR in both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. One could argue that his time in Texas was the best years of his career stat-wise.
Third Baseman: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
Adrian Beltre spent the final eight years of his 21-year career with the Texas Rangers from 2011-2018 and was perhaps one of their most consistent hitters. Beltre batted .304 with 1,277 hits, 199 home runs, and an OBP of .357 during his time in Texas. His 2013 season was by far his best with the Rangers, as he led the team in almost every offensive category.
Beltre ranks second in Rangers history in career batting average and is probably the best third-baseman, both offensively and defensively, that the Rangers have ever had.
Right Fielder: Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers
Every franchise has one player in particular who could be considered the greatest ever to don a uniform, and for the Rangers, that player was Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez won five Silver Slugger awards and the AL MVP twice during his time with the Rangers. Gonzalez is also the Ranger’s all-time leader in home runs with 372 and RBIs 1,180.
Gonzalez batted .293 with the Rangers despite injuries significantly impacting his career.
Center Fielder: Cesar Cedeno, Houston Astros
Cedeno was one of the best outfielders in Astros history, playing 12 of his 17 years in the big leagues in H-Town. Cedeno racked up 1,659 hits, 163 home runs, a .289 batting average, and an on-base percentage of .351 with the Astros.
The only flaw during his time in Houston was his injuries that eventually led to his retirement. Despite the injuries, Cedeno still ranks as one of the greatest outfielders ever.
Left Fielder: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros
Lance “Big Puma” Berkman was a fan favorite in Houston. Berkman was drafted in 1997 and progressed quickly in the minors to earn a call-up in 1999. Berkman became one of the best hitters in the Astros lineup, featuring stars such as Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Berkman played with Houston from 1999-2009 when he was traded to the New York Yankees.
Lance Berkman was one of the best switch-hitters of all time and batted .296 with 1,648 hits, 326 home runs, and an on-base percentage of .410 during his time with the Astros.
Designated Hitter: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Josh Hamilton was one of the best hitters of the early 2010s. Hamilton won the American League MVP award in 2010 when he batted a remarkable .359 average, an on-base percentage of 1.044, and a slugging percentage of .633 to accompany his 32 home runs. Hamilton was a significant part of the success of the Texas Rangers from 2010-2015, in which they made two consecutive World Series appearances, as he was a five-time all-star, three-time silver slugger, and ALCS MVP.
Hamilton signed a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels following the 2012 season. However, he would be traded back to Texas in 2015 following knee injuries, eventually leading to his retirement.
Pitcher: Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers & Houston Astros
The greatest pitcher to ever play the game, Nolan Ryan, played for the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers during his incredible 27-year career. Ryan became the first athlete ever to sign a million-dollar deal when he did so with the Astros following the 1980 season.
Nolan Ryan holds the record for most strikeouts (5,714), walks (2,795), and hits per nine innings (6.6) for a career. Ryan also was an eight-time all-star who threw seven, yes seven, no-hitters during his career, which also ranks first all-time.
Agree with my picks? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, go Astros!
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