There is such a thing as a great baseball name. It doesn’t make you a great Major League Baseball player if your name is, say, Stubby Clapp or Rusty Staub, but it sure doesn’t hurt, either.
Some names, you just know they’re baseball players: Coco Crisp, Razor Shines, John Wockenfuss and Fernando Valenzuela. Sure, they could have had jobs other than being a Major League Baseball player. But what a waste that would be.
This week, I’m here to find the best baseball name on every MLB team. Every team has at least one. Who’s the player from your team?
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ
The J.A. stands for “James Anthony,” but it’s pronounced “Jay,” which is confusing. Regardless, you’ll think “J.A. Happ” every time you see a soft-tossing, innings-eating, above-average lefty starter the rest of your life — the same way you see a portly lefty specialist and think Tony Fossas or Ray King.
Orioles: Chance Sisco
All right, this sounds a little like the name of the hero (or the actor who plays him) of a police procedural on CBS. This name is 37 percent jaw.
Rays: Adeiny Hechavarria
This is the most 1980s utility-infielder name of all time. You can almost see the brown Padres throwback with “Hechavarria” on it, can’t you?
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
A little-known MLB bylaw is that there must be at least one star player named “Mookie” at all times. Even the most high-profile non-baseball Mookie in American pop culture history was still wearing a Jackie Robinson jersey.
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton
Among many excellent decisions Stanton has made in his life was changing his name from “Mike.” Nobody remembers “Mike.” Giancarlo, though, that will live forever. Stanton’s name now sounds like a luxury ocean liner: “Welcome aboard the Giancarlo Stanton.”
Indians: Mike Clevinger
There hasn’t been a man named Mike Clevinger pitching on at least one team every season since 1973. It just feels that way.
Royals: Whit Merrifield
Merrifield only showed up in the Majors in 2016, but it feels like you’ve known a Whit Merrifield your whole life. His is also one of the rare names on this list that doubles as someone you’d run into at the country club. “Cheerio, Whit!”
Tigers: Buck Farmer
Farmer has been beamed to us directly from 1878, and I assume he starts two of every three games for the Tigers, alongside his old pal Old Hoss Radbourn.
Twins: Mitch Garver
This has to be the name of a cocky wisenheimer from a 1980s movie, doesn’t it? Maybe Val Kilmer in “Real Genius”? It’s also tailor-made for a backup catcher. This should probably be the default name for all backup catchers from now on.
White Sox: Trayce Thompson
I like to think that if Trayce would have been named Klay, he would play in the NBA, and if Klay had been named Trayce, he’d be a baseball player.
Angels: Mike Trout
From now on, anyone with the last name Trout — or really anyone with the last name of a fish — is going to be asked if they’re related to him. Frankly, it might happen to everyone named Mike as well.
Astros: Josh Reddick
This is either an underrated, sort-of-unappreciated outfield veteran or a Vin Diesel character.
Athletics: Khris Davis
You know you have a baseball name when there’s not only another player in baseball with the same name as you … but they also actually play baseball pretty much the same way you do.
Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki
You generally forget there’s even a Suzuki that makes motorcycles anymore, all told.
Rangers: Bartolo Colon
Considering Colon in fact existed before baseball did — he predates the pyramids and the dawn of man — his name will be remembered long past the time when all of us are dead. Imagine how annoying your life would be if your name was Bartolo and you didn’t care about baseball.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Ozzie Albies
There had to be an Ozzie on here somewhere, particularly if he’s a dazzling middle infielder.
Marlins: J.B. Shuck
Another option would have been “Derek Jeter.”
Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera somehow is the only Asdrubal in baseball history, though artist Asdrubal Colmenarez, also from Venezuela, is a Guggenheim fellow.
Nationals: Howie Kendrick
Remember, though: He calls himself “Howard.”
Phillies: Rhys Hoskins
The Phillies slugger has that great sort of baseball name whose both first and last name you’re likely to hear and spell incorrectly on first introduction.
Brewers: Jett Bandy
Bandy, alas, is neither speedy nor a charmingly rogue cartoon raccoon.
Cardinals: Tommy Pham
To quote the man himself, “Pham-Tastic.” (Also of course, here’s the obligatory shoutout to Cardinals Triple-A manager Stubby Clapp.)
Cubs: Yu Darvish
Two strong, powerful sounds right next to each other. If you were to make up a name for a Japanese pitcher, you really couldn’t do much better than Yu Darvish.
Reds: Joey Votto
The correct answer to any question about the Reds is always Joey Votto.
Pirates: Starling Marte
Marte had a rough season last year, but that hasn’t changed him from sounding like a premium prosecco label, in addition to, of course, a bird.
D-backs: Robbie Ray
He’s like a hot-shot fighter pilot or maybe a pool hustler.
Dodgers: Joc Pederson
If you added a “K” to Pederson’s first name, it wouldn’t work: He’d have to play football or be a wrestler. Losing the K makes him a baseball man.
Giants: Mac Williamson
This is the ideal player name to be called out by a 1950s paperboy. “Big game today, Mac. Go get ’em and beat those Browns, Mac!”
Rockies: Brooks Pounders
This is definitely the name on this list that is the most difficult to say without giggling.
Padres: Franchy Cordero
I’m pretty sure Franchy was a teammate of Dizzy Dean on the Gas House Gang.
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