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