“TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players” – Thursday’s Top Ten List

Created by Matthew J. Goldberg, tipofthegoldberg.com

This is a great era for Jewish stars of the diamond—and we’re not talking about jewelers. There is more than a minyan of current Jewish Major League Baseball players, and a few of them are bona fide stars.

Today’s Top 10 attempts to list and rank these current stars of our national pastime, and we actually left out a couple men who may yet play a role this year for teams presumed to be pennant contenders.

By historical Jewish baseball standards, there is certainly no pitcher that can be mentioned in the same stratosphere as former LA Dodgers’ great Sandy Koufax, but our number one player may one day rival the great Hank Greenberg as the best Jewish hitter of all-time. He still has some work cut out for him: Greenberg was one of the most potent right-handed hitters the game has ever produced.

Collectively, our Top 10 has earned a lot of fancy trophies, including: 10 All-Star Game appearances, five Silver Slugger Awards (given to the top hitter in the league at his position), a Gold Glove (awarded to the top fielder in the league at his position) one league Most Valuable Player Award, and a Rookie of the Year. Two of our players have even combined to produce three 30-30 seasons—years in which they hit at least 30 homers and stole at least 30 bases.

If you’re new to baseball, a stolen base is a good thing for that player and his team—no apologies or return of merchandise necessary.

Before introducing these 10 stars, let’s extend honorable mentions and hearty asher koachs to Ryan Lavarnway, a 24-year-old catcher in the Boston Red Sox who popped two homers in limited action with the big club last year and Michael Schwimer, a 6’8” right-handed reliever for the Philadelphia Phillies. And no, he’s not that nerdy science professor from Friends who somehow ended up with Rachel. He did, right? Well, not him, but the other Schwim…mer did. And, as Schwimers and Schwimmers go, they’re not Mark Spitz, but who is?

Okay, (most of) the shtick is over; time to present this very serious list.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List10. JOHN GRABOW ­– Left-Handed Relief Pitcher, Chicago Cubs

Date of Birth: November 4, 1978

Career Numbers: 24-19, 4.34 ERA (earned run average)

2011: 3-1, 4.78 ERA with the Chicago Cubs

Presently, Grabow is listed as a free agent.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List9. SAM FULD ­– Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays

Date of Birth: November 20, 1981

The speedy, slick-fielding Fuld, a product of Stanford University, is currently on the Disabled List after undergoing surgery on his right wrist.

2011: .240 batting average with three home runs (HR), 27 runs-batted-in (RBI), 41 runs (scored) and 20 stolen bases (SB)

The bulk of Fuld’s MLB stats was compiled last year.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List8.  DANNY VALENCIA ­– Third Baseman, Minnesota Twins

Date of Birth: September 19, 1984

Valencia is the starting third baseman for Minnesota, and one of two Twins on this list. Ironically, the other guy is not his twin, but they are brothers. Kind of.

2012: .253 BA with one HR, 11 RBI, 9 runs

Career: .268, 23 HR, 122 RBI and 102 runs

Valencia launched 19 homers last year

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List7.  CRAIG BRESLOW ­– Left-Handed Relief Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Date of Birth: August 8, 1980

Career Numbers: 13-17, 3.04 ERA

2012: 1-0, 2.38 ERA

Breslow has been unofficially named as the smartest man in baseball, and perhaps in all of sports. He graduated Yale in 2002 with a BA in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and has also started a foundation to help children with cancer. He is a scholar, a mensch and also pretty darn tough against left-handed hitters.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List6. SCOTT FELDMAN ­– Right-Handed Pitcher, Texas Rangers

Date of Birth: February 7, 1983

Career Numbers: 33-33, 4.73 ERA

2012: 0-0, 2.70 in four games, one as a starter

Feldman came thisclose to pitching the final out in last year’s World Series versus the St. Louis Cardinals. He did have a fine postseason, going 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in nine appearances. The 6’6”, Jewish native of Kailua, Hawaii (and how many people can claim all that, even without the Major League Baseball experience?) was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 2009.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List5. IKE DAVIS ­– First Baseman, New York Mets

Date of Birth: March 22, 1987

Much is expected of the promising Isaac Benjamin Davis, who had a big 2010 season but has been plagued with injuries since

2012: .185 BA (oy, vey) with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 runs

Career: .266, 29 HR, 104 RBI and 98 runs

Davis finished seventh in 2010 Rookie of the Year balloting (for the NL); he hit .264 with 19 homers, 71 RBI and 73 runs.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List4. JASON MARQUIS ­– Right-Handed Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

Date of Birth: August 21, 1978

Career Numbers: 106-98, 4.57 ERA

2012: 2-0, 6,23 ERA in three starts

Marquis has been a reliable Major League starter for seven teams in his 12-plus year career. He made the NL All-Star team as a member of the Colorado Rockies in 2009. A good hitting pitcher, he won the Silver Slugger Award in 2005.

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List3. KEVIN YOUKILIS ­– Third Baseman and First Baseman – Boston Red Sox

Date of Birth: March 15, 1979

Whether you call him “Youk” or even the “Greek God of Walks,” when healthy, the man is a terrific player. Youk has made three All-Star teams and also won a Gold Glove in 2007. He finished third in AL MVP balloting in 2008, and sixth the following year. And yes, he’s engaged to Tom Brady’s sister.

2012: .219 BA (after a hideous start) with 2 HR, 9 RBI and 14 runs in 18 games

Career: .288, 131 HR, 559 RBI, 583 runs and 26 SB

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List2. IAN KINSLER ­– Second Baseman – Texas Rangers

Date of Birth: June 22, 1982

Kinsler provides solid defense with terrific speed and power as the leadoff hitter for the two-time, defending American League champions. He has been voted to two All-Star Game rosters and has already had two 30-30 seasons. Only 11 players in MLB history have achieved this in multiple seasons.

2012: .298 BA with 5 HR, 12 RBI, a league-leading 24 runs and 2 SB

Career: .276, 129 HR, 410 RBI, 584 runs and 138 SB

Kinsler’s postseason BA is a healthy .303

 

TOP 10 Current Jewish Major League Baseball Players   Thursdays Top Ten List1. RYAN BRAUN ­– Left Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers

Date of Birth: November 17, 1983

Braun, last year’s National League MVP, is one of the game’s brightest stars, and easily a Top 10 player on this planet. (Little is known about baseball in other parts of the solar system.)  In fewer than five full seasons, he has won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 and started in the next four All-Star Games for the National League. He became a 30-30 club member last season while leading his Brewers to their first division pennant in 29 years. On Monday night, he became the first player to ever hit three homers (in consecutive at-bats) out of cavernous Petco Park, in San Diego. In his next at-bat, he had to settle for a triple that one-hopped the fence.

2012: .294 BA with 7HR, 17 RBI, 16 runs and 3 SB

Career: .311, 168 HR, 598 RBI, 522 runs and 99 SB

That concludes my list of the Top 10 Current Jewish MLB Players. Agree? Disagree? Have others to add? Please comment below. If you have any suggestions for this column or future lists, please also comment below or send me an email.

Matthew J. (call him Matt) Goldberg will be presenting a Jewish-style Top Ten list every Thursday on this site. For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com, or contact him via email. His new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”) can be found here.

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Matthew J. Goldberg About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew

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  1. Did I forget, overrate or underrate anyone? Can you win a friendly wager with any of this info? Holler…

  2. brewer fan from 1982 says:

    Ryan Braun’s mother is Catholic.

    • Thanks for the read, Brewer fan, 1982; I remember that(Harvey’s Wallbangers) team — very exciting ballclub!

      Per Braun and other athletes/personalities I write about on my Top 10 lists and on my Mondaay “Bagels and Jocks”, I’ve been using the criteria of most of the other Jewish sports pages/sites/blogs of including an athlete if one or both parents are Jewish.

    • Matthew J. Goldberg Matt Goldberg says:

      Thanks for the read, Marianne.

      Even as a Phillies fan, B. J. Rosenberg caught me a bit unaware. Not sure he surprised any of the orioles hitters, though. I just asked someone – who also has lots of baseball (and Jewish baseball) expertise – and he wasn’t sure, either. Will try to have an update for you.

  3. I dont think I would change anything I think you got it pretty much right. I wish Ike Dvais would move up this list but that remains to be seen.

    • Shai,
      Ike Davis, judging from his 2010 season, has the potential to move up. Even though I’m a Phillies fan, I’d like to see him do so and become a major star in NY. Shabbat Shalom.

  4. Josh N. says:

    Any coaches that are Jewish in the game today? The following executives are Jewish:
    Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs President
    Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers GM
    Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays President (the owner is also Jewish)
    Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians President
    Mets and Nats owners are Jewish I believe.

    • Good point, Josh. Offhand, I’m not sure of any Jewish coaches, but it is worth looking into. As far as GMs, Ruben Amaro Jr (Mom’s side) of the Phillies is another name. Thank you for the comment.

  5. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    As an Indians fan, I announce with great sorrow that second baseman Jason Kipnis is not only not Jewish on his mother’s side, he is a practicing Catholic.

  6. Michael Mont says:

    What about? Shoppach-NYM, Chapman-Cinnci, Goldschmidt-Ariz, Ziegler-Ariz, Keuschel-Hou, Schneider-Phil, Keppinger-TB, Mientkiwicz-still playing?, Ross-Bost, Getz-KC, Diamond-Minn–all sound like Jewish names???

  7. You can’t always tell by last names. For instance, Danny Valencia’s Jewish and BJ Rosenberg isn’t. But having said that, were you serious about Aroldis Chapman?

  8. Eric Gray says:

    Hi, Matt, nice article. I think I have heard of a few others, if I can remember (harder as I get older) I will let you know.

    I am writing a book on folks’ fond recollections of being at a ball game. Could be their first game, with dad or grandma, or taking their own kids, one of my stories. I was at the game when they retired Mantle’s number. Maybe the Koufax no-hitter, or Cain perfecto. Maybe something about the park, or something crazy that happened, anything that they fondly, or possibly sadly, remember.

    Are you intereted in contributing to this? I am trying to get get geographic and age diversity, particularly from older folks. I also realize from my return rate from friends and people I meet that I need help in networking this, so if you wish to pass this off to friends and family, that would be wonderful.

    This is definitel a labor of love for me, not a business venture. Who knows if I can ever get a book deal, will probably self-publish. Baseball has played an extremely important role in our our family life. My daughter works for the Giants, and I went back to DC to take my son to see his beloved Giants (second year in a row disasterous results, I have to rethink this strategy.

    Thanks in advance,

    Eric Gray
    ericcgray1@gmail.com (please note the two c’s in my name

  9. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the read and good luck with your book project.

    I’d like to hear more abut your idea; please feel free to do so via my email, which is Matt@tipofthegoldberg.com.

  10. RHP says:

    What about Paul Goldschmidt down here in Arizona? Excellent hitter, had a lot,and I mean a lot, of clutch hits, and he’s a steady glove.

    • Is “RHP” short for right-handed pitcher?
      Per Goldschmidt, he’s a fine young power hitter but I’ve never seen him on any Jewish players lists. I have read that his Dad is Jewish but he was raised Christian.

  11. Don R says:

    Is Pete Rose Jewish? Don’t see his name on any list of current or former players. The only thing that should keep him off the list is that he has no connection to being Jewish.

  12. Quinty says:

    Ryan Kalish is Jewish…he’ll probably pan out as a decent 4th OF for the sox…has the upside of a B.J. Surhoff…

    Aaron Poreda is a former 1st round pick who’ll be coming back from an injury next year. If he does well in spring training, he’ll probably make an opening day roster…

    On talent alone, both those guys should have been on your list…

  13. Thanks for your comments, Quinty. I wish both players well, and I am well aware of Kalish and have also heard of Poreda. At the time I made my list (or even today, for that matter), I don’t think either was or is a Top 10 Current Jewish MLB player.

  14. joyce henley says:

    Is Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals an M O T?

    • Hi Joyce,
      Thanks for the read and question.

      Apparently not, despite the “Trevor”…er, the “Rosenthal.” I checked for him just now on jewishbaseballnews.com, which has proven to be a reliable stat for such things.

      While I am no longer writing bagels and jocks for jewocity.com, please check out my own site – http://www.tipofthegoldberg.com. I’ll soon (May?) be launching my own bagels and jocks (dot com) site as well.

  15. BobbyM says:

    Pretty sure Jose Bautista is an observant jew with an Israeli mother.

  16. BobbyM says:

    Also, Jason Kipnis.

  17. Eugene DuBow says:

    Larry Rothschild – Yankee Coach

  18. Alex Cohen says:

    If, like you stated, your criteria is “one” or both parents being jewish, then you would have to place Paul Goldschmidt and Jason Kipnis at one and two on this list given Braun being a dirty cheater and Kinsler and Youk’s inability to stay on the field. While they (Kip and Goldie) may not practice judaism, many of these other players aren’t fully (or even partially) observant either, but they all have the Jewish ancestry in common.

  19. Alex,

    This was written and posted in May, 2012.

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