Bursting from the blocks the Texas Rangers appeared to have ran away with the AL West division by the end June but a July swoon saw the Houston Astros close within 2.5 games before the Rangers got hot again eventually winning the division for the second straight year and fourth in the last seven seasons.
Making his case for Cooperstown, 19-year big league veteran Adrian Beltre needs just 58 hits to reach 3,000 and 55 home runs shy of 500. A seemingly ageless wonder at 37 who plays the game with a joyful exuberance, Beltre blasted 32 home runs with 104 RBI and a .300 batting average and .879 OPS finishing seventh in AL MVP voting and winning a 5th Gold Glove award at third base. Beltre signed a two-year $36 million contract extension with the Rangers through 2018 which should get him to the coveted 500 home run plateau.
After being named “Comeback Player of the Year” for 2015 a second spinal fusion surgery on a herniated disc in his neck forced the retirement of six-time All-Star Prince Fielder 89 games into the 2016 season. Once considered one of the most dominant sluggers in the game Fielder led the National League with 50 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 making him and Cecile Fielder the only father and son duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season. Fielder drove in a league-leading 141 runs in 2009 and played in all 162 games of the season in four out of five seasons from 2009 to 2013 sitting out one game of a doubleheader in 2010. A tearful Fielder addressed the media on August 10th:
“So I want to just thank my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m going to really miss those guys. They’re a lot a fun. I’ve been in a big league clubhouse since I was their age,” he said, motioning toward his sons. “To not be able to play is going to be tough.” Fielder leaves the game having hit 319 home runs with 1.28 RBI and a .283 batting average in 12 big league seasons.
Second baseman Roughned (ROOG-ned) “Stinky” Odor had a breakout season knocking 33 home runs with 88 RBI and a .271 average and threw the punch heard ‘round the league exacting a measure of revenge on Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista for his bat flipping gesture during the previous season’s ALDS, landing a hard right-cross on Bautista’s jaw after a he slid hard into second base in the middle of a double play.
Southpaw Cole Hamels led the Rangers pitching staff going 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 200 innings. Hamels has two years remaining on his contract at $23.5 million per-year with a $20 million team option for 2019.
Texas Rangers Prospects to Watch
Prospect to watch: First baseman Ronald Guzman hit 15 runs with 56 RBI in 102 games at AA Frisco and received a late-season call up to AAA Round Rock.