The First State, Delaware
A rather small state, Delaware has only given us 52 Major Leaguers; the best of the lot is Delino DeShields. Though he’s mostly known for being traded for Pedro Martinez in one of the most lopsided deals of all time, DeShields was a fine baseball player in his own right, a well-regarded second baseman who excelled on the basepaths and held his own at the plate and in the field.
- Most Hits: DeShields (1548)
- Most Home Runs: Somewhat amazingly, we have a three-way tie. Dave May, John Mabry and Randy Bush all blasted 96 big flies.
- Most Steals: DeShields (463)
- Most Wins (Pitcher): Sadie McMahon (173)
- Most Strikeouts: Chris Short (1629)
- Most Saves: Short (18)
- Most Wins (Manager): Dallas Green (454)
- Best Active Player: By a wide margin, this spot goes to Diamondbacks first baseman and MVP finalist Paul Goldschmidt, who’s a virtual cinch to break that all-Delaware home run record in the next year or two.
- Hall of Famers: It may be first in the Union, but Delaware is last in the Hall of Fame with zero inductees.
- Other Notables: Well, “notable” is a relative term in a pool of this size. The most famous players I was able to find are Kevin Mench and Bert Cunningham.
The Keystone State, Pennsylvania
PA is the birthplace of a whopping 1,391, Major Leaguers, more than any other state besides California. There’s no way to go with just one in this group, so I’ve chosen three: Christy Mathewson. Stan Musial and Honus Wagner. Mathewson was one of the top pitchers of the Deadball Era and likely in the top 10 all-time. Stan the Man was one of the greatest pure hitters the game has ever seen, and he was a tremendous gentleman and ambassador to boot. Finally, the “Flying Dutchman” was the greatest shortstop ever, and it’s not especially close.
- Most Hits: Musial (3630, fourth all-time)
- Most Home Runs: Ken Griffey, Jr. (630, sixth all-time)
- Most Steals: Wagner (723, 10thall-time)
- Most Wins (Pitcher): Mathewson (373, third all-time)
- Most Strikeouts: Mike Mussina (2813)
- Most Saves: Bruce Sutter (300, 24th all-time)
- Most Wins (Manager): Joe McCarthy (2125, eighth all-time)
- Best Active Player: There are several current players from PA, but they’re a largely uninspiring bunch. The best is probably Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, a four-win player in 2013.
- Hall of Famers: Whew. As players, we have Musial, Wagner, Mathewson, Sutter, Bobby Wallace, Herb Pennock, Reggie Jackson, Nellie Fox, Hughie Jennings, Eddie Plank, Monte Ward, Stan Coveleski, Ed Walsh, Rube Waddell, Hack Wilson and Roy Campanella. They’re joined by managers McCarthy, Bill McKechnie and Tommy Lasorda.
- Other Notables: Mike Piazza, Jamie Moyer, Terry Mulholland, Jack Clark, Buddy Bell, Sparky Lyle, Frank Thomas (the ’50s outfielder, not the Big Hurt), Dick Allen and many, many more.
The Garden State, New Jersey
Besides being the real home of baseball, New Jersey is the birthplace of 415 major leaguers, the best of whom is Derek Jeter. As a Red Sox fan, I’m a bit loathe to put the Captain at the top of any list, but his greatness can’t be denied. He’s arguably the top offensive shortstop in the history of the game, and while his shortcomings in the field have been well documented, that didn’t stop the Yankees from winning five world titles during his time at the position.
- Most Hits: Jeter (3316)
- Most Home Runs: Eric Karros (284)
- Most Steals: Sliding Billy Hamilton (914, third all-time)
- Most Wins (Pitcher): Al Leiter (162)
- Most Strikeouts: Leiter (1974)
- Most Saves: Ron Perranoski (179)
- Most Wins (Manager): Jack McKeon (1051)
- Best Active Player: Jeter is still active, of course, but he’s nearing the end of the road. The best New Jersey native in the league right now is easily Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who may well be the best ever by the time his career is over.
- Hall of Famers: Hamilton, Goose Goslin and Joe “Ducky” Medwick.
- Other Notables: Doc Cramer, Johnny Vander Meer, Don Newcombe, Andy Messersmith, Eric Young, Sean Casey and Andrew Bailey.