Here’s a subjective ranking of the top five for Nov. 20:
1) Clark Griffith (1869)
Over nearly seven — yes, seven — decades in professional baseball, Griffith served as a player, manager, player-manager and team owner, making the Hall of Fame in 1946. Griffith began his pro career in 1888 but didn’t establish himself until years later, eventually leading the Major Leagues with a 1.88 ERA in 1898. That was part of a six-season run with the Cubs that saw Griffith win 20-plus games every year. He began managing in Cincinnati in 1909 but continued to appear as a player until 1914, at age 44. Six years later, Griffith hung up his uniform for good when he purchased a majority stake in the Washington Senators franchise, which he owned until his death in 1955.
2) J.D. Drew (1975)
One of the most-hyped prospects of his era, Drew manufactured a sterling 14-year career despite never quite shaking his early reputation as an injury-prone player. In large part because of his struggle to stay on the field, Drew didn’t make his first All-Star team until age 32. But he had already contributed plenty by then, most significantly hitting a grand slam for the Red Sox in a must-win American League Championship Series Game 6 in 2007. Drew, who appeared in 55 career postseason games, hit .350/.395/.500 during the ’07 ALCS and World Series combined.
3) Rick Monday (1945)
Although Drew featured the better playoff resume, his career statistics were strikingly similar to those of Monday, who finished with one fewer home run and an identical 125 OPS+. Like Drew, Monday is known for a memorable postseason homer — his a two-out, two-run, ninth-inning shot for the Dodgers in National League Championship Series Game 5 against the Expos. Monday has two other claims to fame: he was the first player ever selected in the Major League Draft, in 1965, and he prevented protesters from burning an American flag at Dodger Stadium in 1976. Following his retirement as a player, Monday spent years serving as a broadcaster for the Dodgers.
4) Greg Holland (1985)
Part of the Royals’ three-headed relief monster during their consecutive World Series runs from 2014-15, Holland racked up 78 saves those two years as Kansas City’s closer, plus another seven in the 2014 postseason. (He missed the following October due to Tommy John surgery.) From 2011-15, Holland saved 145 games in Kansas City, won 18, and produced a 2.15 ERA as one of the game’s most dominant relievers. Surgery halted him after that, but Holland returned to win National League Comeback Player of the Year honors with the Rockies in 2017. Two years later, he entered the Top 50 in saves in MLB history.
5) Amed Rosario (1995)
A Top 5 prospect in baseball heading into his rookie season in 2017, Rosario consistently showcased his unique combination of power and speed despite struggling to establish himself early in his career in New York. Before the 2021 campaign, Rosario became the centerpiece of Cleveland’s return haul in a six-player trade, which sent Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to Queens. A strong season followed as Rosario demonstrated more of his potential in Cleveland.
Sam Fuld (1981)
Unwilling to let his small stature define him, Fuld carved out an eight-year Major League career for the Cubs, Rays, A’s and Twins. Fuld also starred for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Later that year, he began his journey as a front-office executive, needing just three years to work his way up the ladder and become general manager of the Phillies.
Cody Allen (1988)
From 2013-17, Allen was one of baseball’s most consistent relievers, producing a sub-3.00 ERA in each of those seasons. He anchored Cleveland’s American League pennant-winning bullpen in 2016, delivering 13 2/3 scoreless innings in the postseason. Allen punctuated that with 12 strikeouts over six innings in four World Series appearances.
Alex Arias (1967)
An original Marlin, Arias stuck around Miami long enough to win a ring in 1997. Unsurprisingly, he came through with multiple hits off the bench during that playoff run; for his career, Arias batted .320 as a pinch-hitter, the highest in history for a player with at least 200 pinch-hit plate appearances.
Tarik Skubal (1996)
A ninth-round Draft pick of the Tigers who developed into a top prospect, Skubal debuted in 2020 before submitting a promising performance the following summer at age 24.
George McBride (1880)
Oh, how the game has changed: over a four-year stretch from 1911-14, McBride hit .220/.291/.270 for the Senators … and received MVP votes in each of those seasons. His strong defense at shortstop certainly helped. Still, it’s worth noting that McBride entered the 21st century with the lowest career batting average (.218) of any player with at least 4,000 career plate appearances.
Larry Benton (1897)
Benton tied for the Major League lead with 25 wins in 1928 — the crowning achievement of a 13-year career with the Boston Braves, New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds.