Saying that Maine hasn’t produced much baseball talent is quite the understatement. Of the 78 players to come from The Pine Tree State, only two have a career WAR above 25. By comparison, Jake Arrieta, who is in his 10th season, has won a Cy Young, but only has one All-Star appearance … currently has a WAR of 25.8. And, to make it even less impressive, the two guys with the highest WAR played in the deadball era.
The lone All-Star from Maine is a pitcher named Bob Stanley. Bob had an ok career with the Red Sox, primarily in the ’80’s. He was a starter when he first broke into the league, but spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen. He did save 33 games in ’83 (one of his All-Star seasons), and finished 7th in Cy Young voting in ’82.
But, the best player from Maine is (and it looks like it’s a title he’ll hold for a while since no one in the league currently is from Maine) …
George Gore – he has more runs, hits, and RBI than anyone from the state. He played from 1879-1892, as the centerfielder primarily for the National League team located in Chicago – which is today the Cubs, but was then called the White Stockings – and the New York Giants. He won a batting title in 1880, hitting .360 with an .862 OPS.
While the state of Maryland hasn’t produced a large number of major leaguers (312 – 17th in the US), only 8 states have produced more Hall of Famers. Well, that is, if you’re willing to count the most undeserving HOF election in history, which occurred a few months ago when a bunch of Harold Baines‘ friends got together and decided to put him in. You know, in spite of the fact that he only appeared in 6 All-Star games spread across 22 seasons, only led the league in anything once (SLG in ’84), and never finished higher than 9th in MVP voting (only receiving votes of any kind in 4 seasons).
But, I digress. The Old Line State (whatever that means), has produced some very talented players. Even several non-HOF worthy players (like Baines) had quality careers. Men like Mark Teixeira, Brady Anderson, Brian Jordan, and Charlie Keller. But, the Hall of Famers from Maryland (with one glaring exception), are some big-time names.
Home Run Baker (who actually only hit 96 HR’s), was legendary for his power, and led the Philadelphia A’s to 3 World Series championships. Vic Willis won 249 games in spite of only pitching for 13 seasons (that’s an average of 19 per year!). Al Kaline was an 18-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, and had over 3,000 hits. Cal Ripken, Jr. won Rookie of the Year in ’82, and MVP in ’83, on his way to 3,184 hits, and of course 2,632 consecutive games. Jimmie Foxx had 534 HR’s, won 3 MVP’s, and ranks 5th all-time with a career 1.038 OPS. And, Lefty Grove won 300 games, won an MVP, and led the league in ERA nine times. But, the best player from Maryland was head and shoulders above the rest…
Babe Ruth – not sure what I could say that you haven’t already heard about this Baltimore native. He still owns the career SLG (.690!) and OPS (1.164) records. He also had a career .342 batting average, was a 20-game winner twice as a pitcher, and led the league in ERA in 1916.
Can you believe this little New England state has produced the 7th most major leaguers in America (664)? And, the 6th most Hall of Famers (14 – 11 players, 3 managers)? That being said, however, 8 of those Hall of Fame players played most or all of their careers during the deadball era, around the turn of the 20th century. And, when it comes to more modern players, the better ones from The Bay State are the likes of Mark Belanger, Greg Gagne, and Richie Hebner. Not exactly household names even among avid baseball fans.
But, there are two names that rose to the top as I was looking for the best of the best from this state. And, runner-up goes to Jeff Bagwell. In spite of several injuries, and a career cut to just 15 seasons, he averaged 30 HR and 102 RBI for his career. He finished with a .948 OPS, and won ROY and MVP awards.
The best from the state of Massachusetts, however, is a pitcher…
Tom Glavine – 305 career wins, 2 Cy Young awards, 10-time All-Star, and World Series MVP in ’95. Born in Concord, Glavine is only the 5th left-handed pitcher to win 300 games in his career.
The Great Lakes State has produced some names you know: Frank Tanana, Jim Kaat, Milt Pappas, Bob Welch, Kirk Gibson. Respectable names … but, not exactly great names. In fact, despite the production of 434 players from Michigan, only 26 appeared in more than one All-Star Game, and only 4 have plaques in Cooperstown.
Of those 4, two were great hitters. Kiki Cuyler had a career .322 batting average in the 15 full seasons he played. He also led the league in stolen bases 4 times, helping his team to the World Series 3 times (’25, ’29, and ’32). Charlie Gehringer has a career .320 average, and had over 200 hits in 7 different seasons. He won the batting title in ’37, as well as the MVP (though, it’s a bit of a strange win, since he wasn’t even the best player on his own team – Greenberg clearly was).
But, the best to come from Michigan are two pitchers. Hal Newhouser had an outstanding career with his hometown Tigers that was cut short by arm injury – winning just 18 games after his 30th birthday. But, he was a force to be reckoned with prior to that – winning back-to-back MVP’s, leading the league in wins 4 times, and ERA twice.
Another injury-plagued pitcher is, in my opinion, the best to come from the state…
John Smoltz – despite multiple injuries, surgeries, and numerous games missed due to being on the disabled list, this Detroit native won over 200 games, saved over 150, struck out more than 3,000 batters, and owns the NL record for most saves in a season (55). He was an 8-time All-Star, and won the Cy Young in ’96.