Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Report: Top Five Texas Rangers Starting Pitchers

The Texas Rangers don't get enough "credit" for being a mediocre franchise. Repurposed from Washington in 1972, it took the Rangers a cool 24 years to make the post season. And then in spite of making the play-offs three times between 1996-1999, they stayed true to their rep by going a collective 1-9 in post season play, effectively playing the role of the Yankees' bitch for the last few years of the millenium (Phun fact: lovable bowler John Burkett was the only hurler to win a game for the Rangers during this stretch).

... and speaking of pitchers, the Rangers have a completely brutal track record for developing quality arms. It's perhaps not a coincidence that their 2010 World Series team featured three of their finer homegrown hurlers in recent memory (CJ Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz... although Feliz is technically not homegrown, since he came over in the now-lopsided Mark Teixeira swap). The Rangers' MO during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties was signing future HOF/Anti-HOF pitchers in their twilight years, providing quality in addition to name recognition. But clearly, not a model that can be built upon.

It's shameful.

Here are the Top Five single season performances by Texas Rangers' starters during the MFS years:

Nolan Ryan, 1989
32 GS, 16-10, 3.20 ERA, 301 SO, 1.086 WHIP
Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr was lauded for his Texas home coming in 1989. Ironic since he was just cutting across state from Houston. No matter, the freaky hurler put together a huge 1989, fanning over 300 hitters and winning a solid 16 games, in spite of some tepid run support.

Fergie Jenkins, 1978
30 GS, 18-8, 3.04 ERA, 157 SO, 1.080 WHIP
Jenkins' second tour of duty in Arlington started with a bang, showing that this rangy Ranger could still bring it at age 35. Unfortunately, this was his last truly great season before age caught up with him. Well, age and a fine selection of contraband at the Canadian border in mid-1980.

Bert Blyleven, 1977
30 GS, 14-12, 2.72 ERA, 182 SO, 1.065 WHIP
The loopy Dutch hurler was a man without a country for much of his career, since he bounced between several different teams and likely affected his HOF chances as a result (of course, he's in as of 2011). His 1977 campaign in the Texas heat was a good one. This was the third lowest ERA of Blyleven's 22 year career.

Nolan Ryan, 1991
27 GS, 12-6, 2.91 ERA, 203 SO, 1.006 WHIP
This was Ryan's third massive 40+ year for the Rangers and also the year he spun off his record sixth no hitter.

Kevin Brown, 1992
35 GS, 21-11, 3.32 ERA, 173 ERA, 1.272 WHIP
A charter member of the MFS Anti-HOF, 1992 was Brown's first huge season and his 21 wins remains a franchise record. Solid performance but again, THIS is the fifth best season for a team that been around 40 years?!? Damn.

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