The Top 15 MLB Players' Names That Sound Like They Must Be Fake
The annals of baseball history are loaded with unlikely and amusing names. Urban Shocker. Oil Can Boyd. Van Lingle Mungo. But as unusual as the monikers borne by those players of yesteryear were, they simply cannot compete with the truly outrageous names borne by some players today.
With the voting for the MLB All-Star Game finally completed and the rosters set, what follows is another list of what fans have been voting on for years: the Top 15 player names that sound most ludicrous.
Only current players were deemed eligible for this list—so sorry, Garth Iorg. Our apologies, Ducky Medwick. But you can’t compete.
Throw out your spell-check, ladies and gentlemen. Here comes the list.
15. Jair Jurrjens (ATL)
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Born in Curaçao, a Dutch protectorate in the southern Caribbean, Jair Jurrjens first garnered international attention while pitching for the Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Signed by the Tigers and then traded to the Braves, Jurrjens has proven himself a reliable major league starter over the last six seasons.
He’s also proven that a guy can make the majors with three “J’s” in his name.
14. Coco Crisp (OAK)
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Loved by children in Boston for years because of how he left the milk when they finished breakfast, Coco Crisp stands alone in MLB history as the only player to ever share a name with an artificially flavored cereal.
While Coco isn’t actually his given name, the title on his birth certificate—Covelli Loyce Crisp—is at least as ridiculous, if not more so.
13. Kila Ka’aihue (OAK)
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What he lacks in hitting prowess, Kila Ka’aihue makes up for in pure aloha spirit.
A Mendoza Line hitter, Ka’aihue has nonetheless been a fan favorite since entering the Bigs in 2008 due to his smile, demeanor and a name that nobody’s mother ever believes is real.
The most popular Hawaiian major leaguer since Benny Agbayani, Ka’aihue has been flummoxing scorekeepers and announcers since the second Bush administration.
12. Milton Bradley
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Yes, he technically retired halfway through last season. But Milton Bradley earns a wee bending of the rules here because he’s got such a great, great phony name that there can be no serious discussion of oddball player names without granting him mention.
It’s all too easy to see kids across the world telling their mothers they’re playing with their invisible or imaginary friend, and when pressed, coming up with his name from the cover of the spilled mess of a board game they’re playing by themselves.
“Can you make an extra grilled cheese sandwich for my friend Milton Bradley, Mom?”
11. J.J. Putz (ARI)
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Except for two brief stints in middle relief, J.J. Putz has spent much of the last seven years proving himself to be one of the top closers in baseball.
He also shares a name with a Yiddish epithet for a part of the male anatomy.
Though he caught a tough break with that last name, Putz has wicked off-speed stuff. So while he must have had a tough time in grade school, he’s probably doing all right.
10. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)
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Wandy Rodriguez has spent the last eight years toiling away in near obscurity for the Houston Astros. He’s about as nondescript as a player can be.
His career win-loss record is 79-81, putting him right around .500. His career ERA is just about 4.00, again, putting him right in the mid-range of starters of his era.
But you know what is unusual? That sportswriters could have spent the last eight years covering the Astros without highlighting the fact that his name is Wandy Rodriguez.
Wandy Fulton Rodriguez, in fact. Now does that sound like the name of an MLB starter? Or does it sound like the name of a Latino wizard in some basement game of Dungeons & Dragons?
9. Nyjer Morgan (MIL)
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There is so much to love about Nyjer Jamid Morgan that it’s hard to know where to start. There’s the fact that he has not one, but two unbelievably made-up sounding names. Then there’s the fact that he actually did make up a name for himself: Tony Plush.
Yes, on Twitter and on the field, Nyjer Morgan prefers to go by what he calls his “gentleman’s name” Tony Plush. His own phony-sounding name wasn’t enough for him, so he had to make up another one. How great is that?
Nyjer’s website is www.nyjermorgan2.com. And it is amazing.
8. Jordan Norberto (OAK)
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Jordan Norberto is a young middle reliever from the Dominican Republic.
It’s not so much his first name as it is his last name that sounds too made up to be believed. Try to picture a guy named Norberto standing on the mound in Angels Stadium. Don’t you just see O.J. Simpson as the Naked Gun sidekick standing next to Lieutenant Frank Drebin?
“Now pitching for the Oakland A’s: Jordan Norberto! And singing the national anthem is our own Enrico Palazzo.”
7. Esmil Rogers (CLE)
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A new-age mash-up of a J.D. Salinger story and everyone’s favorite cardigan-wearing TV host, Esmil Rogers offers both intellectuals and little kids something to love.
Though he’s yet to show much stuff on the mound—four seasons of play have left him with an 8-11 win-loss record and a 6.51 career ERA—Esmil Rogers’ name alone is garnering him his share of fans.
6. Frank Francisco (NYM)
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He’s the New York Mets’ closer. His fastball is white-hot. And he’s got a fake ID name as ridiculous as McLovin.
Picture this scene:
“Really? Frank Francisco?”
“So your name is Frank Frank?”
This guy’s name is so ridiculous, it’s hard to believe it isn’t made up.
5. Yorvit Torrealba (TEX)
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It’s the Yorvit that does it.
This journeyman catcher is nearing the end of his career, but for over a decade, he’s made journalists for hometown papers in five different cities—San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Diego and now Dallas—send their copy boys running down to the news room to double check the spelling of his name. And that’s something to celebrate.
4. Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)
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Full name Yoenis Céspedes Milanés, he was paid $36 million for a four-year deal by the Oakland A’s this winter.
Not since Jose Canseco has there been such sensation around a Cuban-born rookie in Oakland. And not since the Atlanta Braves drafted Wonderful Terrific Monds III has there been a prospect so touted by fans of the odd and awkward name.
Seriously, the A’s now boast Yoenis Cespedes, Jordan Norberto, Kila Ka’aihue and Coco Crisp on their 25-man roster. Though they may not be atop the AL West, they’re certainly leading the league in funny names.
3. Jairo Asencio (CHC)
He's a Cub now, but the idea is the same.
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Already a journeyman at the young age of 28, Jairo Asencio is on his third MLB team in only his third year in the Bigs.
No word yet if this is due to his high walks-to-strikeouts ratio, or the fact that the security staffs checking roster lists at most major league fields still don’t believe he’s a real player.
2. Alcides Escobar (KC)
Keppinger's not a bad name, either.
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Yunel Escobar plays shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays. Eduardo Escobar plays shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. But taking the Escobar patronymic title for true funny-name glory is Alcides Escobar, the slick-fielding shortstop for the Kansas City Royals.
This is not like the Molina brothers or the Alomars—none of these Escobars are even related. And that’s part of what makes Alcides Escobar’s name so ludicrous.
Can you imagine manager Ned Yost’s face when he was told they got Alcides in the 2010 Zack Greinke trade with Milwaukee?
“You gave up our ace? Well, who’d you get in return?”
“We got Escobar. The shortstop.”
“Not that Escobar.”
“Not that Escobar, either.”
It must have been a real-life Abbott and Costello routine.
1. Yuniesky Betancourt (KC)
Bash brothers! Yuniesky Betancourt with his friend... Alcides Escobar.
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Amazingly enough, our winner for the most ludicrous, unbelievable name in all of baseball—Yuniesky Betancourt—was also in the Zack Greinke trade that sent runner-up name champion Alcides Escobar to Kansas City.
Thing is, Yuniesky Betancourt was traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee, and then after a year with the Brewers, he walked back to the Royals in free agency.
But forget about the history for a second; just focus on the name. Say it aloud. “Yuniesky Betancourt.” Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
So much so, in fact, that it doesn’t even really sound like a player’s name. It sounds like a posh salad at a fancy foreign restaurant.