Ranking the 50 Greatest Second-Generation MLB Stars of All-Time

Dan Tylicki@DanTylickiAnalyst IJune 4, 2012

Ranking the 50 Greatest Second-Generation MLB Stars of All-Time

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    Baseball, like any sport, has its dynasties. The Alous, the Boones, the Alomars and the Hairstons are as big a part of the game as anything else.

    Just like fathers and sons can play catch together, sons can take after their fathers and become baseball stars, or at least, see the field for a few years. Some can even surpass their fathers and become Hall of Famers.

    Here are 50 of the greatest second-generation players of all time, with some current players put in as well. To make the cut, the son has to play in MLB, and the father has to have had a role in MLB as well.

Honorable Mention: Casey Candaele

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    Casey Candaele was a utility player for nine seasons and probably would not have made the list based on that. His father also didn't play pro baseball, so he can't be on there anyway. The reason for this honorable mention instead comes from his mother.

    Helen Callaghan was a member of Minneapolis in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball Association in the 1940s and was one of the top hitters in the league. Her career batting average of .257 is actually seven points higher than Casey's.

50. Jack Doscher

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    Starting off the list is someone who didn't have much of a career in Jack Doscher.

    In five seasons between 1903 and 1908, he had a 2.84 ERA over 27 games; the 1905 season with the Brooklyn Superbas was the only season where he saw ample time, playing about half those games.

    He gets credit as being the first second-generation baseball player. His father, Herm, played in the 1870s and 1880s as a third baseman, then served as an umpire, officiating two no-hitters.

49. Kyle Drabek

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    The next batch of players on this list will be those who are just starting their careers. They may be great, or they may flame out; it's too early to tell, but they are worth noting.

    First up is Kyle Drabek, son of pitcher Doug Drabek.

    The first-round pick of the Phillies went to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade, making his debut in 2010. He had a poor 2011 but is at least looking somewhat better this year; his 4.65 ERA is better than his 6.06 one in 2011.

48. Eric Young Jr.

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    The Colorado Rockies had Eric Young Sr. as one of their first core players, as he was with the Rockies for their first five seasons. Naturally, they drafted his son, Eric Jr., in 2003.

    Young made his debut in 2009 but has struggled to find an everyday spot in the lineup. Right now, he's a pinch-hitter and fifth outfielder for the team, and he hasn't had much else going for him besides his speed in his career so far.

47. John Mayberry Jr.

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    In the midst of the confusion over the Phillies' left-field spot, John Mayberry Jr. has taken over there, not following in the footsteps of John Sr., who was a power-hitting first baseman.

    After playing sparingly his first two seasons, Mayberry played in 104 games last year, and while he started off as the starter, he has moved to the role of fourth outfielder behind Juan Pierre, where he could remain if his hitting doesn't improve.

46. Tony Gwynn Jr.

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    Tony Gwynn Sr. was one of the best pure hitters in the game's history and would definitely be one of the best of the past 30 years, so Tony Gwynn Jr. had a lot to live up to.

    He's now in his fourth full season, his second with the Dodgers, and while his batting average is not that good, he has shown good speed and is a defensive specialist in the outfield—a nice alternative to the hitting prowess of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

45. Ike Davis

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    Ron Davis was a great reliever for the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and his son Ike is performing for the subway rivals—the Mets.

    Ike Davis had a great rookie season in 2010, but after missing most of 2011, he has struggled big time to bounce back in 2012. With the Mets actually performing quite well, hopefully, he can right the ship.

44. Peter Bourjos

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    In just a short career with the Angels so far, Peter Bourjos has already surpassed his father Chris, who played with the Giants in 13 games in 1980.

    Peter made his debut in 2010, and in 2011, he led the AL in triples with 11 while in center field for the Angels. Like Davis, he hasn't been hitting so far this year, but he has the talent to bounce back.

43. Dee Gordon

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    Of the current crop of second-generation players, Dee Gordon is the one I have the highest hopes for. Father Tom was a long-time starter and reliever, pitching in nearly 900 games in his career.

    Dee, meanwhile, is a fleet-footed shortstop for the Dodgers, and he has already been flashy. He's not hitting like he did last year so far, but he's still making web gem plays, even if he's making errors to go along with them.

42. Mike Hegan

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    Starting off players of the past is a first baseman who had some good flashes, even though he wasn't a perennial All-Star catcher like his father Jim.

    Mike Hegan was an occasional player for the Yankees before joining the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969.

    He made his lone All-Star appearance there and followed it up with another nice season for Milwaukee in 1970. After that, he wasn't an everyday player and soon faded out.

41. Ray Narleski

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    Ray Narleski and Don Johnson are two players who had nice careers but had very short ones and quickly flamed out. Narleski was more dominant and ends up making the list.

    While father Bill Narleski only played two seasons, Ray played in six, starting with the Cleveland Indians in 1954. Two All-Star appearances and an MVP-caliber season followed (for a 1950s relief pitcher, that says a lot).

    Once he was traded to Detroit for the 1959 season though, he fell apart, and that was his last season.

40. Todd Stottlemyre

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    This spot wound up being a pitcher's duel between Todd Stottlemyre and Jaime Navarro; Todd's presence on World Series-winning teams and overall better numbers gave him the nod.

    His father and brother, Mel Sr. and Mel Jr., were pitchers in their own right. Mel Sr. had the best career with the Yankees in the 1960s, but Todd performed well, winning 138 games and two World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.

39. Dick Sisler

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    Like Stottlemyre, Dick Sisler is part of a strong dynasty but almost missed the cut. His father George is one of the best pure hitters of all time, and his brother Dave was a solid pitcher.

    As for Dick, he played in eight seasons, including some very good ones with the Phillies in the late 1940s. He made the All-Star team as a major part of the "Whiz Kids" in 1950 and had nice numbers despite a rather short career.

38. Ozzie Virgil Jr.

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    Ozzie Virgil Sr. played most of his career at third base but played a bit at catcher. Perhaps, that rubbed off on his son, Ozzie Jr., who was a catcher for 11 seasons.

    Ozzie made two All-Star teams and combined solid catching with some nice power behind the plate for the Phillies and Braves, though, he could not hit for average all that well.

37. Adam LaRoche

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    Dave LaRoche had a nice career as a reliever in the 1970s, earning two All-Star appearances, while Andy is just trying to stay in the majors.

    Adam LaRoche, however, has found his niche. The power-hitting first baseman has been playing since 2004 and can regularly hit 20 home runs and 80 RBI.

    His power seems to be back for the Nationals this year, which is great because they will need him moving forward.

36. Darrin Fletcher

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    Tom Fletcher had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Tigers, pitching a grand total of two innings in 1962. That's enough for son Darrin to make this list, though.

    Fletcher was a catcher for 14 seasons. He played for the Montreal Expos in the 1990s, making an All-Star appearance, but it was at the end of his career with the Blue Jays that he seemed to show the most life in his bat and look strong at the plate.

35. Vance Law

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    Vern Law is a Pirates legend, winning a Cy Young Award and 162 games in a 16-year career. As a result, the organization drafted his son Vance in the 39th round of the 1978 draft.

    He played sparingly in Pittsburgh but was an everyday player with the White Sox, Expos and Cubs. He was a well-rounded hitter and managed an All-Star appearance in 1988.

    After retirement, he went on to become head coach of the Brigham Young baseball team.

34. Milt May

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    A player doesn't necessarily need to put up big numbers to be a quality player for a long time in the league. Milt May played 15 years, unlike his father Pinky, who had a very productive but short five-year career.

    Milt had one year where he hit .310, another where he had his career high in triples and home runs and he was solid whether he was the main backup or the starter for a given team.

33. Darren Oliver

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    Father-son duo Bob and Darren Oliver could not be more different, career-wise. Bob was a very good hitter for the expansion Royals before flaming out of the league. Darren, meanwhile, continues to chug on.

    Darren was a decent at best starter from 1996 to 2003, and by 2004, he seemed done. He found new life as a reliever, though, and has had seven great relief seasons in a row. Despite being 41, it does feel like he could pitch another couple years.

32. Gene Moore Jr.

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    While Gene Moore Sr. played 10 games over three seasons to sum up his major league career, Gene Jr. was able to hang on for 14 years.

    Moore played sparingly until joining the Boston Bees in 1936, where he hit well and made an All-Star team. He continued to play on and off and finished his career with the St. Louis Browns in 1944 and 1945—the year they were actually good.

31. Ed Sprague Jr.

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    Ed Sprague Sr. was a quality reliever in the 1970s, playing mostly for the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers. Despite his efforts, he never won a World Series ring.

    Ed Sprague Jr. won two, however. He was a solid player in 1992 and 1993 for the World Series-winning Toronto Blue Jays and broke out in 1996 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI.

    After making an All-Star appearance in 1999, he finished his career with just over 1,000 hits and 152 homers.

30. Dick Wakefield

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    I wasn't sure whether to include Dick Wakefield or not. On the one hand, he had an amazing peak, but on the other hand, he's the only guy in the top 30 with such a short career.

    He became a full-time player for the Tigers in 1943. He led the league in hits and doubles, hit .318 and made an All-Star appearance. He followed that up with a .355 average in 78 games before joining the war effort; he was top six in MVP voting both times.

    After he returned, he was a solid hitter, but he could not find that feared swing, and after 1948, he didn't pass 60 games played again.

29. Del Unser

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    Del Unser almost didn't make the list, but baseball needed players during the war years. As a result, Al Unser played in 120 games from 1942 to 1945, mostly for the Detroit Tigers.

    As for Del, he had a nice 15-year career. He had a hot start with the Washington Senators in the late 1960s, nearly winning Rookie of the Year. He also contributed to the Phillies' 1980 World Series title and led the league in triples in 1969 with eight.

28. Todd Hundley

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    There are a fairly good number of catcher father-and-son tandems that make this list. One of many is Randy and Todd Hundley. Randy was a great defensive catcher for the Cubs in the 1960s.

    Todd Hundley, meanwhile, was alright on defense, and excluding 1996, doesn't have much on his resume besides some decent power seasons and an All-Star Game.

    In 1996 though, he hit 41 home runs, 32 doubles and 112 RBI and came out of nowhere to have an excellent season before falling back to earth.


    tu meta es llegar a los 3000 hits?

27. Aaron Boone

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    Here begins the Boone dynasty; three people are on this list in the top 30, with two in the top 20. Combine that with Ray Boone and it says a lot about this family and baseball.

    The first up is Aaron Bone, the two-time All-Star who is best known for his home run in the 2003 ALCS, causing the Yankees to beat the Red Sox.

    His stats could have come close to his father and brother had he not lost the 2004 to injury, as he wasn't as good after that.

26. Jayson Werth

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    Jayson Werth had already made his presence known. Having the nickname of Werewolf helps and so does having an uncle and stepfather who were in baseball; uncle Dick Schofield came very close to making the list himself.

    Werth came to life for the Phillies in 2009 and 2010, earning an All-Star bid and a top-10 MVP ballot finish, leading the league in doubles in 2010 with 46.

    He struggled with the Nationals in 2011, and time will tell if he can be a strong player again.

25. Don Mueller

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    Like Dick Wakefield, Don Mueller was a player who had a great peak but was not able to sustain it long-term, though he did last longer than his father Walter, who played four seasons with the Pirates.

    Mueller played for the Giants for 10 years and was a force between 1953 and 1955, hitting over .300 and making the All-Star team twice, as well as winning a World Series ring and leading the league in hits in 1954.

    After 1955, his average fell off, and he was done by 1959.

24. Jim Bagby Jr.

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    Jim Bagby Sr. was a long-time pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, winning 31 games in 1920 and winning a World Series ring to go with 127 wins.

    Jim Bagby Jr. didn't match those stats, but he did start two Opening Day games for the Indians, which his father never did. He also made two All-Star appearances, which included a 17-9 season in 1942. He finished his career with 97 wins in 10 seasons.

23. Harry Walker

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    The Walker family had two brothers whose careers really took off later on. Dixie Walker will appear later, but while Harry Walker's prowess was briefer, it was just as effective.

    Walker became a full-time starter in 1943, getting an All-Star bid. After serving the war effort in 1944 and 1945, he returned. It was in 1947, at 30, that he broke out, leading the league with a .363 batting average.

    He continued to hit well, yet struggled to be an everyday player; he retired with a .296 batting average.

22. Johnny Cooney

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    While Jimmy Cooney Sr. and Jr. were infielders who had rather short careers, Johnny Cooney is the only player on this list to serve as both a position player and pitcher.

    Johnny started off as a pitcher for the Boston Braves from 1921 to 1930 and finished with a 34-44 record. It seemed like his career was done, but he came back in 1935 as an outfielder. He hit very well and received MVP votes in three seasons.

    He had nearly 1,000 hits in his career, which is impressive; about 800 of them came after turning 35.

21. Ross Grimsley II

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    Despite being one of the hardest players on the list to find a good photo of (I didn't succeed), Ross Grimsley II had a very nice career as a pitcher in the 1970s.

    He won 18 games in Baltimore in 1974, and with Montreal in 1978, he won 20 games, earning his lone All-Star appearance.

    In 11 seasons, he amassed a 124-99 record and a 3.81 ERA.

20. Nick Swisher

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    In a nine-season career, Steve Swisher had 20 home runs and a .216 career batting average as a catcher, so it seems like Swisher's home run prowess came elsewhere.

    Nick is in his ninth season and has consistently been mashing 20-plus home runs and 80-plus RBI for the Yankees.

    He also made an All-Star appearance in 2010 after finally getting his batting average up as well.

19. Tom Tresh

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    The Yankees in the 1960s still had the greats Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, but Berra in particular was aging, and the next generation had to step up. Tom Tresh did just that.

    His father Mike played catcher, but he played almost everything except that during his career, mainly serving as an outfielder.

    He won Rookie of the Year in 1962 and made two All-Star Games, but his batting average dipped in 1965, and once his power faded, he was done after only nine seasons.

18. Danny Tartabull

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    The third of three Yankee sons, Danny Tartabull may be best known as a Yankee, but his most successful seasons were in Kansas City; his father played for the Athletics there for a few years.

    Tartabull could hit 30 home runs and 100 RBI to go with a solid average, yet he couldn't play a full season, earning only one All-Star bid. After hitting .316 in 1991, his hitting numbers fell off, and while he still had power, he couldn't do much else.

17. Roy Smalley III

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    Roy Smalley III's name makes him sound like a third-generation great. Too bad Roy Sr. wasn't a pro ballplayer. Roy Jr. was though, playing for 11 years.

    Roy III was a 13-season veteran, amassing nearly 1,500 hits. His best season came in 1979 with Minnesota, where he hit 24 home runs and 95 RBI, earning his only All-Star bid. He spent 10 years in all with the Twins mostly as their shortstop.

16. Joe Coleman

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    Joe Coleman was a longtime pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1950s. His son Joe (not a Jr, unlike nearly everyone else on the list) became a pitcher as well for 15 years.

    His best seasons came with the Detroit Tigers. He won 20 games and struck out 236 in 1971, made the All-Star team in 1972, and in 1973, he won 23 games.

    He bounced around with other teams and finished his career with 142 wins—a 3.70 ERA and 1,728 strikeouts.

15. Robb Nen

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    Perhaps, I'm overrating Robb Nen here, but I feel that he was a far better reliever than he gets credit for, as he was one of the elite ones at the turn of the century.

    His father Dick didn't do much in the majors, but in a 10-year career, Nen had 314 saves and a 2.98 ERA.

    He won a World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins, and a torn rotator cuff caused his retirement at 32, right after he led the Giants to the NL pennant in 2002.

14. Terry Kennedy

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    As noted, it seems like many great second-generation ballplayers are catchers. There are still several more left, yet none may be as underrated as Terry Kennedy.

    His father Bob Kennedy played in the majors for 16 seasons, and Terry almost matched that. In 14 seasons, he had four All-Star appearances, was a major run producer for the Padres in the 1980s and was a key piece for the NL champion San Francisco Giants in 1989.

13. Bret Boone

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    Continuing on with the Boones, picking Bret or Bob to be the top one was not an easy choice, but in the end, Bret is slightly further up on this list.

    In a 14-season career, Boone had 252 home runs and over 1,750 hits, and he nearly won MVP in 2001 to go along with three All-Star appearances and four Gold Gloves.

12. Sandy Alomar Jr.

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    Sandy Alomar, like his father, was a long-time catcher in baseball and is a tough one to rate for this list. On the one hand, he was rarely healthy and only played over 100 games a few times.

    On the other hand, he was great when healthy and made six All-Star teams; mediocre people don't make that many teams.

    Sure, he doesn't match up with his brother, but Sandy was a great player in his own right, even if the stats don't necessarily show it.

11. Bob Boone

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    The Boones are one of baseball's best dynasties. Aaron and Brett Boone were already on here, and patriarch Ray Boone was a great ballplayer in his time. Perhaps, the best of them was the middle generation, which had Bob Boone.

    Bob was one of the best defensive catchers, earning seven Gold Gloves and four All-Star appearances. He was a modest hitter but was still able to rack up over 1,800 hits in the 70s and 80s.

10. Prince Fielder

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    It's ironic that the father-son duo has the last name of Fielder, given that both Cecil and Prince are big men who mash the ball, and can't do much in the way of fielding.

    Fielder has led the league in home runs, RBI and walks, at least once, and has been an MVP candidate many times. Luckily, he's in the American League now, so he'll be able to continue his hitting prowess and move to DH soon.

9. Robinson Cano

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    Robinson Cano is a player on the rise, and by the time his career is over, he could definitely be in the top five on this list. For now though, the son of cup-of-coffee pitcher Jose Cano makes the top 10.

    The Yankees second baseman has become a perennial MVP candidate, hitting .300 with nearly 30 home runs and over 100 RBI. At 29, he's sure to win an MVP or two as long as he keeps hitting and the Yankees keep winning.

8. Jason Kendall

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    Jason Kendall may be the top guy on this list whose second-generation status may not be known; his father Fred was a catcher as well over 12 seasons, primarily for the San Diego Padres.

    Jason, however, surpassed him and was one of the great all-around catchers in the 1990s. He had three All-Star appearances, nearly 2,200 hits, and was not afraid to take one for the team; he was hit by a pitch 254 times, good for fifth all time.

7. Dixie Walker

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    It's not often the Yankees let one get away, especially in the 1930s, but they let Fred "Dixie" Walker go, and he became one of the biggest stars of the 1940s for the crosstown Brooklyn Dodgers.

    His father Fred Sr. was an occasional pitcher for the Washington Senators around 1910, but Fred Jr. found his niche with pure hitting.

    The outfielder hit .306 with over 2,000 hits, but he could have been a Hall of Famer if it didn't take him until 29 to join Brooklyn and get going.

6. Moises Alou

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    Moises Alou, perhaps, didn't get as much love as he should have during his career. While others were hitting home runs left and right, he was hitting .300, driving in 100 runs, and helping teams win titles, namely the 1997 Marlins.

    The son of Felipe Alou, a great hitter as well, Moises hit .303 in his career with over 2,100 hits. He made six All-Star teams and nearly won MVP twice, losing in 1998 to the McGwire-Sosa experience.

5. Buddy Bell

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    There's a big drop-off between here and the top four, as those are true legends of the game. Nonetheless, Buddy Bell was one of the best third basemen of the late 1970s/early 1980s and was an underrated talent.

    Buddy is the second of three generations of ballplayers and may have been the best of the three.

    He had over 2,500 hits in his career, made five All-Star teams, won six Gold Gloves and even though he didn't play on good teams (1970s Indians and 1980s Rangers), he was still able to showcase his great defense and solid hitting.

4. Roberto Alomar

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    Sandy Alomar Sr. was a veteran catcher who fathered two greats of baseball. Sandy Jr. followed in his father's footsteps as a catcher, but Roberto surpassed both of them and became one of baseball's best second basemen.

    The five-tool player was a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner, a second ballot Hall of Famer and he didn't really have any weaknesses in his game; he was simply great all-around.

3. Barry Bonds

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    What is there to say about Barry Bonds that hasn't already been said?

    We have a seven-time MVP who's hit more home runs than anyone else and is the most controversial figure of the past 25 years.

    Meanwhile, his father Bobby Bonds may be one of the most underrated players in the game's history. Sure, Bonds may have used PEDs, but he did get a lot of natural talent from his father.

2. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Ken Griffey, Jr. established himself as a baseball legend in the 1990s. With the Seattle Mariners, he could do no wrong, and he may have been the best player in his 20s out of anyone on the list, except, perhaps, Bonds.

    When he joined the Cincinnati Reds, he was no longer a good defensive outfielder, and he wasn't often healthy. Even a past-his-prime and unhealthy Griffey was still more exciting to watch than many in the league though, and it's no question, in my mind, that he'll be in the Hall of Fame.

    He and his father, Ken Sr., played together with the Mariners in 1989.

1. Cal Ripken, Jr.

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    Cal Ripken Jr. is a legend of the game of baseball. The Iron Man set a games played record at 2,632 that I can't see being broken, and he was, if not, the best shortstop in MLB history, then at least in the top three.

    It's a bit of a stretch to call him a second-generation player though, since Cal Ripken Sr. was actually manager of the Baltimore Orioles and played in their farm system.

    Nonetheless, he was a second-generation ballplayer, and the best one we have seen.