Rangers fans- I’m shocked you clicked on an article about a year as painful as 2011.
All jokes aside, the year that ended with Texas’ most acrimonious postseason exit with its seven-game loss to St. Louis in the 2011 World Series came in the same year that the team reached a still franchise record 96 wins.
The Rangers 2011 roster was stacked with a bevy of talent paired with well-fitting role players on the way to an uncontested American League West Title. Here’s a look at what happened to some of those names.
Make sure to take a look at the first article in this series– last week’s piece profiling the 2010 pennant-winning team for an in-depth look at several of the team’s most consistent contributors.
Names you might’ve forgotten about
David Murphy and Darren Oliver have made themselves harder to forget since joining Fox Sports Southwest’s pre and post-game Rangers television coverage.
One of the main reasons Texas made a deep run in the postseason that year was its immovable force of a bullpen. A trio of recognizable names buoyed the group. Arthur Rhodes signed in free agency off an All-Star campaign with Cincinnati in 2010, but failed to replicate those results with the Rangers and was traded to St. Louis at the deadline. He was guaranteed a ring no matter the result of the Fall Classic, and retired after that season.
Texas acquired Koji Uehara from Baltimore in the aforementioned trade with the O’s involving Chris Davis. He pitched just 22 games with the Rangers and is best known for recording the final out in the 2013 World Series against- you guessed it- the Cardinals. Pedro Strop was also included in that deal- he’s still active and just signed with the Reds after an impressive 2.90 ERA over 7 years with the Cubs.
Mike Adams was another anchor of that team’s bullpen- he finished with a minuscule 1.47 ERA between Texas and San Diego after a deadline deal and had a solid 2012 with the Rangers. He pitched two more seasons with Philadelphia before retiring in 2014.
Mark Lowe gave up David Freese’s famous walk-off home run to seal Texas’ fate in Game 6 of the World Series. He bounced around between five different teams in five seasons. As recently as 2019, he pitched with the Atlantic League’s Sugarland Skeeters- a team famous for bringing in MLB arms well past their playing days.
Endy Chavez, Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon all split time in center field for Texas that year. Chavez started the most games and several postseason contests, finishing batting above .300. He played several more seasons of professional ball- mostly in the Atlantic League. Gentry and Borbon were both highly touted in the Rangers system, and each had major league stints afterward, but could never turn their elite speed into a sustainable roster spot. Gentry retired less than a year ago with the Rockies, while Borbon played with Baltimore in 2016, and is now the outfield, bunting and base running coach for the New York Yankees.
Leonys Martin also made his major league debut that season, and was an inactive member of the postseason roster so that he could learn from the experience and veteran players. Against the odds, he’s still playing today. In 2018, while with the Indians, he missed a significant amount of time due to a life-threatening bacterial illness that left him hospitalized. He’s set to play in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines after bouncing from Seattle, the Chicago Cubs, Detroit and Cleveland over the past five years.
On the subject of failed prospects, once highly-regarded arms Cody Eppley, Michael Kirkman and Yoshi Tateyama all made cameos on the Rangers roster that season. None turned into a consistent major league player- Eppley was out of baseball by 2013, while Kirkman pitched with Milwaukee and 2016, and was out of baseball by 2017. Tateyama had a brief stint with Texas in 2012, but was released after struggling, and returned to finish his career in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers in 2014.
Elvis Andrus is the only current Ranger on the 2020 roster. A pair of first base prospects- Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis- saw inconsistent playing time that season. Both left for AL East teams in Boston and Baltimore. Davis was traded to the Orioles along with Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter at the 2011 deadline. O’Day plays for Atlanta in 2020, while Hunter is under contract with Philadelphia.
Nelson Cruz had a great post-Ranger career. 244 homers and six years later, he’s still a productive offensive force approaching his age-40 season. 36-year old infielder Andres Blanco signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee over the offseason. Derek Holland is still clinging onto what’s left in his career- he signed a minor-league contract with Pittsburgh for 2020.
The big names
Franchise cornerstone Michael Young had one of his best overall seasons in 2011. Since then, he’s become Jon Daniel’s front office aide, and even became the fifth Ranger to have his number retired in 2020. Ian Kinsler was traded to Detroit for Prince Fielder in 2014, and after initial animosity between he and Texas, is likely the next Ranger to be honored in the team’s Hall of Fame. He put together a solid final stretch in his career, winning a world series with Boston in 2018 after solid postseason contributions. He played as recently as last year with San Diego and has since joined their front office.
Mike Napoli’s Rangers career is truly dynamic. He burst onto the scene in 2011 after being traded twice in the offseason. Both offensively and defensively, he was one of the best catchers in the league, and was elected as the starter at catcher for the 2012 American League All-Star team. He shined in the Postseason with the 2013 World Champion Red Sox, and ultimately finished for a pair of swan songs on two very different Texas teams in 2015 and 2017.
Yorvit Torrealba was his backup that year- it was his first season with the team, and, against the odds, Texas brought him back for 2012 after a heated exchange that lead to blows with an umpire while playing for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League in the offseason. He retired in 2013.
CJ Wilson is best remembered for immensely struggling in what was the final start of his Ranger career- a 6-2 loss in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. Josh Hamilton had awkward some shining moments in the series, but both left for division rival Los Angeles in the 2012 offseason. Wilson put together four mediocre seasons with the Angels and retired in 2017 to pursue his racing career. Currently, he is the general manager of the Porsche Fresno racing team. Hamilton returned to the team in a 2015 trade and repaired the relationship despite a minimal on-field impact due to injuries. Unfortunately, his off-field issues continue to plague him- he was indicted in early April on a felony charge assaulting his oldest daughter.
Other key contributors include Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison. Lewis joined Young in 2017 in Texas’ front office. Texas wrecked Feliz’s career attempting to make him a starter in 2012. The 2010 AL Rookie of the Year was never the same after several elbow surgeries. Harrison was traded to Philadelphia as part of the Cole Hamels trade in 2015, but never played a game with the Phillies, and is currently an organic chicken farmer in North Carolina.
Manager Ron Washington resigned his post amid questionable circumstances in 2014, and has bounced around the league as a third-base coach, serving that post with Oakland from 2016-17, and Atlanta since 2018. Pitching coach Mike Maddux serves the same post for St. Louis, and still is highly regarded after earlier stints with Washington.
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