Top Five All Time Texas Rangers WAR Leaders
The Wins Above Replacement (WAR) stat is a popular way of valuing players in modern baseball. At its core, it values how many more wins a player in worth over a replacement-level player from the minor leagues or free agency. It factors in several variables including batting, baserunning, fielding, and playing position.
The goal of WAR is trying to get the value of a player down to one, all-inclusive number. Some people use it as the starting block for valuing players while some people fully believe in and endorse the statistic.
As these newer age stats become more relevant in today's game, it doesn't come without its critics. Baseball sites like Baseball-Reference (bWAR), Fangraphs (fWAR), and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) use different stats in their formulas. In our last North Texas Nine Podcast on InsideTheRangers.com, Texas Rangers television play-by-play broadcaster Dave Raymond expressed his lack of endorsement for the stat, using these site's differences on WAR as an example.
Either way you look at it, WAR is a stat that's not going away for a while. So, if you had to guess who the top five Rangers WAR leaders of all time, who would they be? We're only counting the years they spent with the Rangers. (Take a guess before scrolling down).
As a helpful tip, WAR is an accumulative stat year-by-year. If a player is worth 1.2 wins in 2017 and worth 2.9 wins in 2018, that player is worth 4.1 wins over those two seasons. And for any WAR newbies, players can be negative as well. So, if that same player was worth -0.3 wins in 2019, his total WAR over those three years would be 3.8.
For this ranking, we will use bWAR to give us the top five Rangers of all time in WAR.
5. Ian Kinsler (35.0 bWAR)
In his eight seasons with the Rangers, Ian Kinsler established himself as one of the best players in franchise history. Kinsler was a valuable bat that Ron Washington could plug anywhere in the Rangers lineup from 2006-2013. Kinsler also brought valuable defense at second base, accumulating 39 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) throughout his time as a Ranger.
Kinsler's best season was in 2011, with an eye-popping 7.0 bWAR. He slashed .255/.355/.477 with 32 home runs and 77 RBIs. He also had 17 DRS in that season, truly becoming one of the most valuable two-way players in the American League that year.
4. Buddy Bell (36.3 bWAR)
With six straight Gold Gloves from 1979-1984, Buddy Bell established himself as one of the best defensive players in Rangers history. Add in a slash line of .293/.351/.431, Bell was another great two-way player in the history of the franchise.
His debut season with Texas in 1979 was his best season in terms of bWAR, valued at 6.9 wins. Bell was worth more than six wins in four of his seven-plus seasons with the Rangers, and was even worth 5.7 wins in 1982.
3. Adrian Beltre (41.2 bWAR)
He's earned GOAT status with a lot of Rangers fans, but in his eight season with the Rangers, Adrian Beltre catapulted himself to a first-ballot Hall of Fame player.
From 2011-2018, Beltre slashed .304/.357/.509 with 199 home runs and 699 RBIs. He won three of his five Gold Gloves with the Rangers and finished in the top-ten in MVP voting five times with Texas.
Of all of Beltre's great seasons with Texas, his 2012 season is atop the list in bWAR. He was worth 7.2 wins that year and finished third in the AL MVP voting. He slashed .321/.359/.561 with 36 home runs and 102 RBIs that year and won his second consecutive Gold Glove. AL MVP winner Miguel Cabrera beat Beltre for the Silver Slugger at third base.
2. Rafael Palmeiro (44.6 bWAR)
Rafael Palmeiro had two stints with the Rangers (1989-1993, 1999-2003), totaling 321 home runs with a slash line of .290/.378/.519 in his 10 total seasons with Texas.
Palmeiro was worth 6.9 wins the 1993 season, where he hit a then-career high 37 home runs. Accompanied by a .926 OPS and an 11 DRS, Palmeiro also finished in the top-ten in the MVP voting for that season. Palmeiro then signed a five-year, $30.35 million contract with Baltimore after Texas signed free agent first baseman Will Clark.
1. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez (50.0 bWAR)
Taking everything into account, it's no surprise that Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is number one all time in bWAR.
In his first 12 seasons with the Rangers, Pudge won 10-straight Gold Glove awards from 1992-2001, six-straight Silver Slugger awards from 1994-1999, and won the American League's MVP in 1999. Pudge was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017
In bWAR, Pudge's best season came in 1997, where he was valued at 6.5 wins. Pudge had four straight season where he was worth at least 6.1 wins from 1996-1999, the years where Texas won the AL West Division title three out of those four years.
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