Here’s a subjective ranking of the top five for Jan. 24.
1) Whit Merrifield (1989)
While Merrifield may only have debuted in 2016, the two-time All-Star has quickly made an impression. Merrifield twice led the American League in hits — as well as singles (2019), doubles (’21) and triples (’19), specifically — and he led the AL in stolen bases three times. He played in every Royals regular-season game from 2019-21 — and at six positions throughout the infield and outfield — breaking the club’s consecutive games record on Aug. 14, 2021, with his 422nd straight appearance. Merrifield also set the franchise record with a 31-game hitting streak from Sept. 10, 2018, to April 10, 2019, breaking Hall of Famer George Brett’s mark from 1980. He was traded to the Blue Jays in August 2022 and is signed through ’23.
2) Scott Kazmir (1984)
Kazmir was one of the AL’s premier pitchers during the start of his career with the Rays, compiling a 55-44 record and a 3.92 ERA in six seasons. He was a two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay (’06, ’08) and was the AL’s strikeout leader with 239 in his lone 200-inning season in ’07. Kazmir most recently threw for the Giants at age 37 in 2021, in what was his first taste of big league action since ’16. It was also the second comeback campaign of his career, after he rebounded from a 2011 release to pitch a career-high 15-win season with the A’s in ‘14.
3) José Quintana (1989)
The 11th Major Leaguer (and fourth hurler) from Colombia, Quintana has posted an 89-87 overall record and a 3.75 ERA in 11 MLB seasons through 2022. He managed four consecutive 200-inning campaigns from 2013-16 with the White Sox, capping that stretch with his sole All-Star selection and a Top 10 AL Cy Young finish. One of the most consistent pitchers in the Majors during his career, Quintana also tallied a 200-strikeout season with 207 in ‘17.
4) Rob Dibble (1964)
Part of the Reds’ “Nasty Boys” bullpen trio in 1990 and ’91 — along with Randy Myers and Norm Charlton — Dibble threw a fastball that sometimes reached 100 mph and a slider that averaged around 90 mph. The two-time All-Star (‘90, ‘91) helped guide the Reds to their 1990 World Series title, sharing NLCS MVP honors with Myers after tossing five scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in four appearances (one save).
5) Dave Brain (1879)
In just seven MLB seasons, Brain left his mark as one of the top power hitters of the dead-ball era. The Hereford, England native led the Majors with 10 home runs for the Boston Doves in 1907. But he stood out most for his unique name; he often represents third base on baseball’s “All-Body Part Team.”
Others of note:
Wally Judnich (1916)
Judnich finished in the Top 20 in AL MVP Award voting twice in his first three MLB seasons, but enlisting in the Air Force for the next three years during World War II slowed his momentum. He did earn a World Series ring in 1948, though, as a backup outfielder and first baseman for Cleveland.
Cliff Heathcote (1898)
In a 15-year MLB career — primarily with the Cubs (nine seasons) and Cardinals (five) — Heathcote was most notably traded between games of the rivals’ doubleheader on Memorial Day in 1922; he suited up for St. Louis in the first contest, then switched to a Chicago uniform in the second.
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