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Best Jewish Baseball Players of All Time

The Greatest Jewish Major League Baseball Players of All Time

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

In Major League Baseball, Jews are represented well, with many top players crossing over different eras. In other sports, where one struggles to come up with a compelling list, Jews have certainly made an impact in the big leagues. Here are some of the better ones:

Sandy Koufax: Still considered by many as the greatest left-handed hurler of all-time. Koufax was incredible and had the good sense to leave fans with great final memories, as he retired at age 30 following a 27-win season. He led the league in ERA in each of his last 5 seasons. He won 97 games in his final 4 seasons. Koufax debuted as a 19-year old for the Los Angeles Dodgers and made an instant impression, notching two shutouts in five starts. In 1963, he won his first of 3 Cy Young Awards, going 25-5 with 11 shutouts. He averaged better than a strikeout per inning over his 12-year career and was still clocking in at 90 mph when he pushing 60 years old for crying out loud. Simply put, he was one of the best ever.

Hank Greenberg: One of the overlooked baseball greats, circumstances weren’t that kind to Greenberg, despite a Hall of Fame career. If pitchers decided to pitch to him when he was threatening Babe Ruth’s single-season record or if WWII didn’t interrupt his prime, Greenberg’s name would resonate more loudly in the history of the sport. Greenberg made his name at 23 in 1934 when he batted .339 with 139 RBI and 63 doubles. The following season, Greenberg was league MVP with 170 RBI. In 1937, he knocked in an incredible 183 runs. The following season, anti-semitism played a role in preventing Greenberg from eclipsing the beloved Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. Greenberg ended up with 58 home runs that season and scored 144 runs, which was only good for third in the MVP voting. After again leading the league in homers and RBI, WWII got in the way and by the time Greenberg came back in 1945, his best days were behind him.

Lou Boudreau: Lou played in the majors for 15 seasons, most of them with Cleveland. The illustrious shortstop was a fantastic hitter, ending up with the American League batting crown in 1944. In 1948, he was league MVP with a sterling .355 average. One of the best hitters of his era, Boudreau is still recognized as one of the greatest Cleveland Indians of all-time. Boudreau wasn’t a practicing Jew, but his parents were. So technically, he counts.


Shawn Green: Perhaps he was drowned out by the insane power numbers being put up in the late 90’s and early-2000’s. As time passes, however, many of those players’ accomplishments have been put into question, giving greater meaning to the feats of the few who managed to stay clean off steroids--guys like Ken Griffey and to a lesser extent, Shawn Green. Beginning with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, Green took some time to get started, but by 1998, was one of the top power hitters in the American League. After hitting 78 home runs in his last two seasons with Toronto, the Dodgers came calling. Green did not disappoint. He hit 91 home runs from 2001-2002 in LA. He finished off his career with Arizona and the Mets.

Kevin Youkilis: A big part of the Boston Red Sox teams that was able to shed the longtime tag as the most snake-bitten franchise in baseball. Youkilis was one of those heart-and-soul clutch players. From 2008-2010, he hit .300 each season and posted impressive power numbers, even knocking in 115 runs in 2008. Youkilis had a lot of key moments in some important postseason moments for the Red Sox and will be remembered fondly by Boston fans.

Ryan Braun: Found himself in a little hot water with the PED issue, where the details seem murky. In any event, time will sort all that out. In the meanwhile, Braun remains one of the top players in the National League, even winning MVP honors in 2011. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2007, with a .324 average and 34 home runs. The Milwaukee Brewers star is a consistent triple-crown threat and a prolific base stealer, hitting for average and posting top-notch power numbers year after year. Braun won the home run title in 2012.

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