#37 -- The Greatest Rangers of All Time

#37 on the list of the greatest Rangers of all time is a guy who was originally signed by the Rangers, debuted with them, and who the Rangers had high hopes for way back in the day.  He ended up leaving in a big trade, bounced around the majors having some success, and came back late in his career for another brief stint with Texas.

He wasn't a Hall of Famer, by any means, but he was a solid pitcher, but with the Rangers and elsewhere, and that's enough to make the list.

So check out Danny Darwin, the 37th greatest Ranger of All Time.

Darwin was a Texas native, born in Bonham, Texas, and known as the Bonham Bullet.  He signed with the Rangers in May, 1976, as a 20 year old, and quickly advanced through the Ranger system, pitching for single-A Asheville in 1976, AA Tulsa in 1977, and AAA Tucson in 1978, before making his Ranger debut on September 8 of that year, coming into a blowout game where Jon Matlack had allowed 10 runs (although only 3 earned) to the Oakland A's.

Darwin, a hard thrower, struck out the first major league batter he faced, shortstop Mario Guerrero, and allowed just a run in 2 innings of relief, but only appeared in two more games the rest of the 1978 season, including his first start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Mariners.  Darwin went 6 strong innings in that game, striking out 7, walking 1 and allowing 3 runs, and when Jim Umbarger was able to throw three shutout innings to close out the game, Darwin got his first major league win.

Darwin started 1979 back in AAA, but was called up in June to make his second major league start, going 8 1/3 innings on June 21 against the California Angels.  Darwin went into the 9th with a shutout, but nursing a 2-0 lead, after getting a pop up from Bert Campaneris, Darwin walked Carney Lansford and allowed a single to Disco Dan Ford, which brought closer Jim Kern into the game.  Kern allowed a 2 out double to Willie Aikens that tied the score and cost Darwin the win, although the Rangers ended up winning in 11 innings.

Darwin made two more starts in a row, and then went to the bullpen, where he spent much of the rest of the season.  Darwin got three more starts that season, although two of them were spot starts as part of a doubleheader, and otherwise held down the long man role in the pen.  Darwin ended the season with a 4.04 ERA in 78 innings.

Darwin showed enough to have earned a spot in the major league pen from the outset of the 1980 season, and pitched well enough to be entrusted with a late inning role.  Darwin had a significant workload that year, appearing in 53 games (including 2 starts) and throwing 109 2/3 innings, and logging a 13-5 record with 8 saves and a 2.63 ERA.  He continued to strike out batters, racking up 104 Ks on the year, although he also continued to display some control problems in issuing 50 walks.

Darwin was promoted to the rotation the following year, and took a bit of a step back.  In the strike-shortened 1981 season, he threw 146 innings in 22 games, including 2 shutouts, with a 9-9 record and a 3.64 ERA and 95 ERA+.

The highlight of the 1981 season for Darwin was his April 29 shutout at Arlington Stadium of the Boston Red Sox, when he outdueled John Tudor and allowed just one hit -- a Rick Miller single to lead off the 6th -- in a 5-0 Ranger win, highlighted by John Grubb's bases loaded, bases clearing double in the first that gave the Rangers all the runs they'd need.

The Rangers were contenders in the first half of the season but fell off in the second half, leading to changes.  Frank Tanana was brought in, and Charlie Hough was moved from the bullpen to the rotation, with Darwin moving back into the closer role in 1982.  Darwin regressed from his fine 1980 relief performance, going 10-8 with 7 saves, but striking out just 61 batters in 89 innings, walking 37, as part of one of the worst Ranger teams ever, a 64-98 disaster that was saved from last place by an even worse Minnesota Twins team.

Darwin spent the next two seasons putting up solid, if unspectacular, performances in the Ranger rotation, going 16-25 over that period for a couple of bad Ranger teams, with ERAs of 3.49 and 3.94 and ERA+s of 114 and 105. 

After the 1984 season, Darwin was shipped to Milwaukee as part of a convoluted four-way deal that sent former Ranger catcher Jim Sundberg from Milwaukee to Kansas City, Royals catcher Don Slaught from K.C. to Texas, and Tim Leary from the Mets to the Brewers. 

Darwin was able to hang around into his 40s by pitching solidly in whatever role he was asked to fill.  He spent a year and a half in the Brewer rotation, was traded to Houston, and spent four and a half years starting and relieving, as was necessary, for the Astros in the late 80s.  He then joined the Red Sox and pitched for them, primarily in the rotation, from 1991-94, signed with Toronto as a free agent prior to the 1995 season, and logged 65 innings with them before being released in July, 1995, and signing with the Rangers.

Darwin started four games for the Rangers in 1995, going 2-2, before spending September in a mop-up role in the pen.  Although Darwin turned 40 after the season, he still wasn't finished...he spent most of the next three seasons in the majors, starting for Houston, Pittsburgh, the White Sox, and the Giants, before retiring after the 1998 season.

 

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