Best Texas Ranger (2000)

Rick Helling

He faded late in the year, when the strain of trying to carry a leaden team became too much, but he was still the lone standout veteran among this disappointing bunch. But before then, he was his usual bulldog self, finding ways to win games, even when he didn't have his best stuff. (At press time, he'd won 15 games on a bad team. And yes, Ivan Rodriguez was his usual stud self this year, but he will have missed the last third or so of the season with a bum thumb.) Hell, even Helling's best stuff isn't that great--average fastball, a breaking ball that hangs too often--but the man just battles. It's remarkable when you consider that he was once traded by the Rangers and that, after he returned, stubborn automaton manager Johnny Oates didn't give him the credit he deserved until this year. Helling never let it get to him, never lashed out at the hordes that doubted him. Which makes it all the more inconceivable that Helling was booed by Rangers fans after one bad game this year. Hey, idiots, news flash: If everyone gave the effort Helling did, perhaps the Rangers wouldn't have languished in last place for much of the year.

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