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Gone but not forgotten: The 2011 Texas Rangers in review

Game 6

Credit: AP Photo / Eric Gay

Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton is congratulated by Esteban German (6) after Hamilton hit a two-run home run during the 10th inning of Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on November 1, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 1 at 5:08 PM

ARLINGTON - The 2011 Rangers were special, because they were a true team.

And when they went down, they did it as a team.

It starts at the top, and on this team, there were several players at the top. Who's the MVP?

Was it Michael Young?

He set career highs with his .338 batting average and 106 RBI, and he played in 159 games on a team where injuries kept sending others to the disabled list.

Was it one of the sluggers?

Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre all hit at least 30 home runs; Nelson Cruz had 29 and Josh Hamilton 25. All of them except Kinsler missed significant time due to injury. Does Beltre's attitude, along with his defense at third base, gives him an MVP-edge, or did Napoli's handling of the pitching staff make him more valuable?

Which brings us to the pitching: Who was the best one on the staff?

Lacking a true ace, the Rangers produced five starters who won at least 13 games, a franchise first and a rare feat in Major League Baseball.

What we're left with is no clear MVP, and a clubhouse full of guys who can all take ownership in the success of the team.

And then there was Game 6.

Who's to blame? Much like the MVP discussion, there are plenty of guys who played a role.

Neftali Feliz blew a save. Cruz misplayed a fly ball into a game-tying triple. Michael Young made two errors. Darren Oliver failed to protect a 2-run lead. Ron Washington made some questionable decisions. Alexi Ogando walked both batters he faced. Ranger hitters left countless runners on base.

For all the wrong the Rangers did in Game 6, they were playing a team that did a lot of things right, and that's what will ultimately be remembered. This wasn't as much a choke job by the Rangers as it was a magical game and a magical run by the Cardinals.

That doesn't help the hurt. This one cut deep, and it's impossible to imagine how long it will affect the players and coaches who were directly involved, and who were so close to winning the championship.

But the players are in place. The manager is the right guy. And the formula is the best one in sports: play as a team.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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