Looking back at an underrated Texas Rangers catching tandem.
During the 2016 season, the Texas Rangers suffered several injuries to their catchers and deployed five total throughout the season.
The Rangers began the year with fan favorite Robinson Chirinos and Bryan Holaday.
Chris Gimenez was originally slated to be the backup to Chirinos , but suffered an infection in his lower leg.
He was later designated for assignment on May 4th to make room for recently acquired Bobby Wilson.
Shortly after, Robinson Chirinos would suffer a broken right forearm that would keep him out of the lineup for a majority of the season.
With Gimenez and Chirinos out, Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday would play a crucial role in the Texas Rangers playoff run in 2016, and would go down as arguably the most underrated catching tandem in team history.
Neither Wilson or Holaday would play a lot for the Texas Rangers, but they made their presence known during their stints in Arlington.
Bobby Wilson, now on the Texas Rangers coaching staff, played in 42 games and hit .250.
Wilson could have been considered one of the most clutch players on the 2016 Texas Rangers roster, most notably his late inning heroics against his former team.
Just days after being acquired by Texas from Detroit, Bobby Wilson capped a seven-run eighth inning.
After three straight singles by Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre, the Rangers cut the Tigers lead to 2-1.
Ian Desmond tied the game on a sacrifice fly, followed by a Mitch Moreland walk and Elvis Andrus hit-by-pitch.
Wilson would step up to the plate and stun the Comerica Park crowd by hitting a go-ahead grand slam off of Tigers reliever Mark Lowe.
Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday stepped up big for the Texas Rangers in 2016.
That was the first grand slam by a Texas Ranger since Odor hit one in August of 2014.
Delino DeShields followed Wilson’s grand slam with a solo shot of his own.
The Texas Rangers won the game 8-3 and handed Detroit their sixth straight loss.
That would be the first of two grand slams Bobby Wilson would hit for the Rangers, with the second coming at the expense of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just a week after his first, Wilson would give the Rangers a 4-0 lead against the Blue Jays back home in Arlington.
The Texas Rangers were making Marco Estrada work that day when Wilson came to the plate, having thrown 43 pitches by the end of his at-bat.
On a 3-2 count, Estrada left a belt-high, middle-middle fastball at 87 mph to Wilson and he didn’t miss it.
He drove that pitch to deep right-center field which ended up in the back of the Blue Jays bullpen.
I attended this game, and remember Wilson’s grand slam vividly as the Globe Life Park erupted with excitement.
The Rangers walked Toronto off in the 10th innings courtesy of a Drew Stubbs solo shot.
Wilson spent 2015 and 2016 with the Texas Rangers, and would later get hired as Frisco’s manager and be promoted to the big league staff for the 2021 season.
Bryan Holaday, the other half of this underrated catching tandem, had a solid season for the Texas Rangers in 2016 as well.
He hit .238 with two homers and 13 RBIs for the Rangers over 29 games.
During those 29 games for Texas, Holaday appeared in 27 behind the plate, one in left field and the last on the mound.
Most notably, during his one pitching appearance for the Texas Rangers, Holaday got to show off his filthy knuckleball.
He would pitch an inning and a third in relief during a 17-5 Texas Rangers loss.
His former teammate in Detroit, Austin Romine, said that Holaday used to break out the knuckler while they played catch.
"“I expected that out of his knuckleball,” Romine said. “It’s good. I didn’t see pitch by pitch, but from the highlights I saw, it looked like it was moving a lot, which is normally what it did when we played catch.”"
That’s pretty high praise for a backup catcher with little prior pitching experience.
Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday’s contributions to the Texas Rangers shouldn’t be forgotten.
Sadly, both Wilson and Holaday would be designated for assignment to make room for the later acquired Jonathan Lucroy and the eventual reinstatement of Robinson Chirinos.
President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels said that it was a tough decision for the Texas Rangers to make.
"“It’s a little bittersweet,” Daniels said. “That’s the tough part of it. Somebody comes in, somebody has to go. Those guys did an unbelievable job. They are one of the reasons we are where we are in the standings.”"
J.D. was exactly right.
Not only did Wilson and Holaday provide exceptional entertainment, but they gave the Rangers a spark when the team needed it most and created several of the best highlights from the 2016 season.
Both Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday did a tremendous job for the Texas Rangers, and their DFAs would unfortunately mark the end of their Rangers playing careers.
These two catchers flew under the radar for a long time, but they could easily go down as the most underrated catching tandem in Texas Rangers history.