The 2023 Hall of Fame Induction announcement takes place on Tuesday.
Over the years Nolan Ryan and Ivan Rodriguez have made the Hall of Fame as former Texas Rangers. Today I wanted to look at five former and current Rangers who I believe have a case to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The first player on this list is Adrian Beltre. He will be first time player on the 2024 ballot. It is widely expected that he will sail through the election process and get well over 75% of the vote. He was an excellent defensive third baseman, who made an immediate impact on the Texas Rangers.
He signed in 2011 and was one of the best players on that World Series team. He hit three home runs in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2011 postseason. He surpassed 3,000 hits, had well over 400 home runs, and five Gold Gloves. He was a great leader that other players looked to and also knew when to have fun. His Rangers teams were in playoff contention in five of his first six seasons with the team and that included winning the AL West in 2011, 2015 and 2016.
The second player is Andruw Jones. Jones played one season in Texas as the DH for the Rangers in 2009. In his prime he was the best defensive center-fielder in all of baseball and maybe the best of all-time. He burst onto the scene in the 1996 World Series with a 2-home run performance in Game 1 of that series against the Yankees. He followed that up with 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards between 1998 to 2007. His best offensive season was in2005 when he hit 51 home runs with 128 RBI's and finished second in MVP voting to Albert Pujols. He combined the defensive accolades with 434 home runs.
In 11 seasons from 1997-2007 he played in 150 or more games and that doesn't include postseason games. It shouldn't be a surprise that by 2008, his age 31 season, his body started to break down. Jones' case is similar to Ozzie Smith in that both were known primarily for their defense and played demanding defensive positions and were the best at their position for a long period of time.
The third player is Juan Gonzalez. In the 1990's Juan Gonzalez was the best right-fielder in all of baseball. He was a two-time MVP award winner. He led the Rangers to the playoffs 3 times in 4 years. In the first playoff run in 1995 he nearly led the Rangers to an upset of the Yankees by hitting five home-runs in that four-game series. He made the All-Star team three times and famously entered the 1998 All Star break with 101 RBI. He led the leagues in home runs in 1992 and 1993. He had eight seasons over 100 RBI including the 157 RBI season in 1998.
Between 1992-2001 he was a dominant force. His career tailed off after that due to injuries with his hamstrings and he was done by 2005. The case is that his dominant stretch was long enough and the fact that he won two MVP awards and had over 400 home runs, and 1,400 RBI should put him in the conversation. He was suspected of being a steroid user, and accused of that by Jose Canseco, but so was Pudge Rodriguez and he was narrowly elected back in 2017. Gonzalez's time on writers ballot is over, but the hope is someday that one of the modern day committees takes up his case and elects him much like they did with Fred McGriff this year.
The fourth player is someone who has yet to officially suit up for Texas and that is Jacob Degrom. Degrom who has already won 2 Cy Young Awards back in 2018 and 2019, plus the Rookie of the Year Award in 2014, is on the Hall of Fame track as we speak. These next five to six years though that he spends in a Rangers uniform will either stamp his ticket for Cooperstown or will be the reason he narrowly misses out.
Degrom is in a similar place that Adrian Beltre was in when he signed with Texas. Beltre was widely respected, but it was thought that his best years were behind him. Degrom is in the same boat. The injuries Degrom has suffered has many experts believing that Texas overpaid him, that his best days are behind him, and that he will be a massive disappointment. If Degrom can put together three to four dominant seasons, plus two to three just good seasons and be over 150 wins, with maybe another Cy Young, and lead the Rangers to the World Series in one of these seasons then it will be hard to deny him a place in Cooperstown.
He wont have the wins that Pedro Martinez has or the longevity, but he will have the awards, and the team accomplishments if Texas can win a World Series much like Pedro did with Boston.
The final player is Bartolo Colon. He was not here long, but he did make quite an impact on the team and the fans. He finished his career in Texas in 2018 at the age of 45. He pitched for 21 years.
In 2018 he very nearly pitched a perfect game on Sunday Night Baseball against the Astros. He took the perfect game into the 8th inning before walking Carlos Correa and then a double by Josh Reddick in a game the Rangers won 3-1. He finished his career with 247 wins and did win a Cy Young in 2005 during his time with the Angels. He won games by throwing strikes with his fastball and being constantly in and around the zone on nearly every pitch.
He dared hitters to make contact and forced them to go up there swinging because they knew he wasn't going to walk them. He pitched in 4 All Star games ranging from when he was 25 in 1998 all the way to 2016 when he was 43. He was a marvel and a fan favorite wherever he was at. He had to reinvent himself after suffering arm injuries and came back in 2011 and had a dominant run from age 38 to age 45. Not someone known for his time in Texas, but he did make some memories here.