As we’ve been working through these single-season home run leaderboards for each MLB team, it’s been interesting to see the patterns that form in certain scenarios. A great example of this lies with the Rangers home run leaders for a single season — if we look at the top-10 most powerful seasons in franchise history, it’s occupied by just four guys.
Each of those four hitters currently appears more than once on the below list, but no more than three times. In fact, three of the four enjoyed three seasons powerful enough to land on this list, with only one failing to do so. Let’s get into the details of the top 10 before listing out the remainder of the top 24.
Rangers Home Run Leaders: Top 10
Alex Rodriguez‘s 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers has undoubtedly gone down as a mistake for the franchise, but when he suited up for Texas, all he did was hit. He owns three of the top four most powerful seasons in Rangers history. These performances include the following:
- 57 home runs in 2002
- 52 home runs in 2001
- 47 home runs in 2003
He’s the only Rangers player with more than 50 dingers in year, so it appears he has a stronghold on the organization’s single-season home run record. The same can be said for the single-season shortstop HR record. And of course, consistently elite production such as this helped him hit the fourth-most home runs all time. He led the league in homers during each of these three campaigns, went to the All-Star Game three times, took home three Silver Sluggers, and snagged two Gold Glove awards in the process.
Rodriguez finished in the top six of AL MVP voting in all three years and progressively got higher with each year. Interestingly enough, he won the award in 2003, which was his “worst” performance from the standpoint of homers (47), RBI (118), and triple-slash (.298/.396/.600). A-Rod did hit a second gear following the All-Star Game, as he slashed .318/.427/.679 with 25 homers and 58 RBI down the stretch.
That strong finish was powered by an August in which he posted his highest monthly OPS (1.303) while slugging 15 homers and 31 RBI.
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Frank Howard was the slugger A-Rod passed to set the Rangers’ new single-season record, and he’s still third on the list. He’s also hanging on right now at number 10 thanks to a pair of other performances. Here are all of them:
- 48 home runs in 1969
- 44 home runs in 1968 and 1970
So, for anyone keeping score at home, that’s three straight years with at least 44 homers, and he led the league on two occasions (in ’68 and ’70). He registered at least 100 RBI each time and posted his highest season-long OPS (.976) and total bases (340) in ’69. These huge single-season performances helped him grab a spot within the top-five of the Rangers’ all-time home run leaders, too.
Although Howard collected 162 more plate appearances in the first half compared to the second half, most of his damage in the power department came during the initial stretch of the season. He slugged 34 of his homers prior to the All-Star break, which was accompanied by a .638 slugging percentage. In the second half, he finished off his season with another 14 homers and a .487 slugging percentage. The only time he hit six homers in a month was September, but other than that, he slugged at least seven every other month during the season.
Rafael Palmeiro didn’t slug 40 homers in a season until his age-33 campaign. From then to the end of his career (which was another seven years), he posted three more such performances. The two that landed on the Rangers’ single-season leaderboard are as follows:
- 47 home runs in 1999
- 47 home runs in 2001
That 1999 campaign was the better of these two, both by way of traditional statistics and advanced ones like wRC+ (156) and fWAR (5.4). He added a career-high 148 RBI in the process while hitting .324/.420/.630, along with winning a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, heading to the All-Star Game and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting.
Palmeiro enjoyed hitting at home, where 28 of his homers and 83 of his RBI happened, but his performance between the first and second half was quite even (20-plus homers and 70-plus RBI in each instance). The first baseman hit nine or more homers in a month just twice in 1999, but he slugged 15 in August and paired that with 39 RBI to help pad his stats.
This was just part of a late-career power surge Palmeiro enjoyed with the Rangers and Orioles, and we’ve known for a while that it probably didn’t just happen by accident, either.
I feel like Juan Gonzalez is one of those guys who actually had a pretty nice career but somehow flies under the radar. It might’ve been because he played during the height of the steroid era and watched others put up bigger numbers. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter because he was a great ballplayer who won a couple of MVP awards along the way. The three performances that appear in the second half of Texas’ top 10 include the following:
- 47 home runs in 1996
- 46 home runs in 1993
- 45 home runs in 1998
Gonzalez’s fWAR and wRC+ were highest in 1993 when looking at these three seasons, but it’s hard to ignore his 1998 campaign. It was his second and final MVP performance, and those 45 homers were accompanied by a league-leading 157 RBI and a .318/.366/.630 line.
He had a terrific season just in the first half, which included 26 home runs, 101 RBI, and a .923 OPS in just 384 plate appearances. Over his final 285 trips to the plate, he found a way to elevate his performance by slugging another 19 homers and 56 RBI to go along with a 1.097 OPS. Gonzalez posted a slugging percentage better than .600 in five different months, and it’s ridiculous because the man had 71 RBI by the end of May. The only time he didn’t record 20 RBI in a month was September when he collected 14.
Rangers Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the remainder of Texas’ top-24 most power seasons in franchise history looks like:
- Mark Teixeira, 2005: 43 home runs
- Josh Hamilton, 2012: 43
- Rafael Palmeiro, 2002: 43
- Juan Gonzalez, 1992: 43
- Juan Gonzalez, 1997: 42
- Joey Gallo, 2017: 41
- Joey Gallo, 2018: 40
- Juan Gonzalez, 1999: 39
- Rafael Palmeiro, 2000: 39
- Mark Teixeira, 2004: 38
- Dean Palmer, 1996: 38
- Rafael Palmeiro, 2003: 38
- Rafael Palmeiro, 1993, 37
Check out the rest of the leaderboard on FanGraphs.
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