Least Valuable Rangers of the 21st Century
Rather than choose a single player to be the Rangers least valuable player since 2000, I thought I’d take a look back at the last ten years of Rangers baseball, and recognize the worst players by position.
C Taylor Teagarden 2010
The Rangers had a dilemma on their hands heading into the 2009 season. What were they going to do with all of their catching depth? The triumverate of Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Max Ramirez were pegged as the backstops of the future and seemed destined to finally help Texas achieve postseason success. The result was a tandem of Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor in October. Teagarden’s struggles left him with only 85 plate appearances, and he struck out 34 times, hit .155, and logged a -.02 WAR.
Einar Diaz 2003
Lifelong Rangers fan, local kid, and hometown favorite Chris Davis stormed onto the scene in 2008. Much like their catching dilemma, Texas was unsure of what to do with dueling prospects Davis and Justin Smoak. Davis proved to be a huge disappointment, posting a -0.9 WAR, and struck out a mind-jarring 150 times in 391 ABs, before ultimately getting traded for equally disappointing Koji Uehara.
Ben Broussard 2008
Ryan Garko 2010
The never-satisfied Rangers traded for Guzman during the stretch run in 2010. Many analysts questioned the move, and so did Guzman. Cristian was upset by the deal and considered vetoing the trade because he was happy in Washington. Guzman’s comfort in the Beltway was all for naught, as he has not played a professional game since 2010. Guzman received 50 plate appearances, hit .152, and logged a -.06 WAR.
Arias’ legacy will ultimately be the player the Rangers chose over Robinson Cano in the Alex Rodriguez trade. Even more disheartening, the Rangers nixed a potential deal with Boston for Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester in favor of the Yankees offer. An injury to Ian Kinsler granted Arias playing time in 2010, and in 101 plate appearances, he had only 6 extra-base hits, walked twice, and had a WAR of 0, before finally being replaced.
D’Angelo Jimenez 2006
It might seem strange to give the award to a player who had only 24 career Major League plate appearances. The Rangers drafted Meyer with the tenth overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft – ahead of Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain. Since 2001, the shortstop position in Texas has been manned by Alex Rodriguez, Michael Young, and Elvis Andrus. Meyer gets the nod not for what he did, but what he didn’t do.
The Rangers got their first taste of playoff baseball in the late ‘90s. After an injury-plagued and disappointing 2000 season, Texas attempted to get back in the mix by throwing money at the problem. Caminiti brought plenty of baggage to Texas, fell flat, and was eventually dealt to Atlanta after playing just a half season with the Rangers.
Following the 2005 season, Buck Showalter and the Rangers decided that Alfonso Soriano was not a fit for second base. Offended by the suggestion, Soriano refused to move to the outfield…until he was traded to Washington and forced to change positions. Wilkerson was the centerpiece of the deal and his failure amounted to closure of the A-Rod era in Texas. Wilkerson had a promising early start to his career in Montreal and even finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2002. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pull his weight with the Rangers. In 2006, he posted a negative WAR of -0.2, and hit just .222.
Shane Spencer 2003
Frank Catalanotto 2007
Nix was once the cream of the Texas farm crop. He struggled mightily and was optioned to AAA Oklahoma City in favor of Gary Matthews Jr., after hitting just .094 and striking out 17 times in 32 ABs, and posted a WAR of -.07. Things turned around for Nix after he was part of the package deal with Milwaukee that netted Nelson Cruz and two draft picks that year. He somewhat came into his own in Cincinnati in 2009, and married Cowboys cheerleader Brooke Sorenson in 2011.
Scarborough Green 2000
Ryan Christenson 2003
Ruben Rivera 2002
Ramon Nivar 2003
The Rangers fell victim to the Yankees hype-machine by dealing for their former prospect. Ledee admittedly wept when he was first dealt from New York to Cleveland, and Rangers fans experienced a similar reaction after watching him flop in Arlington. In 2001, Texas gave Ledee a long leash including 272 plate appearances, but he failed to produce. He hit just .231 with 2 home runs, and put up a lousy -1.1 WAR in 2001.
The 2004 Rangers surprised observers by having their best season since ‘99, and stayed in contention until the season’s final weekend. They did so despite a glaring inadequacy at DH. A former star in Toronto, Fullmer played his last season at age 29 in Texas. He didn’t exactly go out with a bang, hitting just .233, with 11 home runs and a -0.4 WAR.
Phil Nevin 2005
Jason Botts 2007
Chan Ho Park wasn’t the worst pitcher in Rangers history, but he may have had the most negative impact. Casual observers give misdirected blame to the A-Rod contract for the team’s struggles early last decade. Park was a much bigger part of the problem. Park signed a five year, $65 million contract, which at the time, was one of the largest contracts ever for a pitcher. Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of the Chan Ho debacle was Park Factor – Not the stat, but the pitcher’s contribution to the perpetuation of the myth that it’s impossible to pitch in Arlington.
Rob Bell 2001
Mark Clark 2000
Aaron Myette 2001
John Rheinecker 2006
Dave Burba 2002
Luis Mendoza 2008
Colby Lewis 2003
Tony Mounce 2003
He threw hard, was expensive, from the South, and hated New York. What could go wrong? The only thing that went right with Rocker, was the classic HBO character Kenny Powers he probably influenced. In his 2002 stop in Texas, Rocker posted an ERA of…what else, 6.66, and didn’t last 25 innings before the plug was pulled. He also joined several names on this list by making his last significant career stop in Texas. After leaving the Rangers, Rocker pitched in two more games before his career was officially over.
When Oakland selected Arlington Martin product Todd Van Poppel in the first round of the 1990 draft, Texas fans dreamed of the high school phenom one day returning home to pitch for the Rangers. They got their wish. Van Poppel had struggled throughout his career until a breakout season with the Cubs in 2001. That was all the Rangers needed to see, and quickly signed him to a three year, $7.5 million contract. In his 50 2002 appearances, Van Poppel posted a 5.45 ERA, a WHIP of 1.5, and coughed up 14 home runs. 2003 didn’t go any better, as he only lasted seven games in Texas and allowed 20 hits and 9 walks in 12 ⅔ innings before shipping off to Cincinnati.