MLB Playoffs: Ten-Year Veterans Playing for First World Series Ring
In every baseball post season, there are veteran players seeking their first ever World Series Championship.
Some players win a ring in their rookie year. Others win title after title, even when they change teams.
But a championship celebration must feel especially sweet for players who have cracked the lineup for ten seasons or more but are still searching for their first championship,
Here are some of the men from the playoff teams who have played in the Major Leagues over the course of ten years or more but have never won a ring.
At least one of these players will be celebrating at the end of the World Series.
Grant Balfour: Oakland Athletcs
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The popular and enthusiastic Australian native broke in with the 2001 Minnesota Twins. No stranger to postseason play in his ten seasons, he pitched in the 2004 Division Series for Minnesota and then found postseason success in Tampa Bay.
He recorded the final out in the 2008 Division Series for the Rays and pitched in the ALCS and World Series before the team fell to Philadelphia. He also pitched in the 2010 Division Series with the Rays.
If the A’s win the World Series, then chances are it will be Balfour jumping in the air and on the bottom of the pile.
Carlos Beltran: St. Louis Cardnals.
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The Cardinals lost Albert Pujols but gained Carlos Beltran. While Pujols’ Angels are playing golf, the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals are back in the post season, thanks in great part to Beltran’s power and speed.
Twice he played in an NLCS Game Seven, but he has never played in a World Series. In 2004 as a member of the Astros, he had a remarkable MVP caliber performance.
He had a terrific NLCS in 2006 with the Mets as well, but is best remembered for striking out looking to end the series.
Both times it was the Cardinals who beat Beltran’s team. Perhaps he felt that if he could not beat them he should join them.
Wilson Betemit: Baltimore Orioles
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The versatile utility man for Baltimore made his debut with the 2001 Atlanta Braves. Over his ten seasons in the majors, he has bounced from the Braves to the Dodgers to the Yankees, White Sox, Royals and Tigers before landing in Baltimore for the 2012 season.
The Orioles will be the fourth franchise he has played in the postseason with. He was on the 2004 and 2005 Braves, the 2006 Dodgers and last season played in the Division Series and ALCS with the Detroit Tigers.
He homered against the Mets in the 2006 Division Series. This year he is aiming for his first trip to the World Series.
Miguel Cairo: Cincinnati Reds
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For the past 17 seasons, Cairo has been a valuable utility infielder who always seems able to land a new job.
His career includes stops in Toronto, with the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Yankees, Mets, Mariners and Phillies. He has been with the Reds for the past three seasons.
He saw action in the postseason with the 2001 and 2002 Cardinals, the 2004 Yankees, the 2009 Phillies and the 2010 Reds.
The 2009 Phillies squad was the only pennant winner he played for. Maybe 2012 will be his second trip to the Fall Classic!
Endy Chavez: Baltimore Orioles
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Chavez made his debut with the Kansas City Royals and is one of the few remaining former Montreal Expos.
Over the past 11 seasons, Chavez has played in Kansas City, Montreal, then moved with the Expos to Washington. He played with the Phillies, Mets, Mariners and Rangers before joining the Orioles for the 2012 season.
He made one of the great catches in postseason history, robbing Scott Rolen of a go ahead home run in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS as a member of the New York Mets.
Last season he played in the World Series as a member of the Texas Rangers.
He got to within one strike of a World Series ring. This year he hopes to go all the way as as a member of the Orioles.
Eric Chavez: New York Yankees
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A fixture on the Moneyball A’s, Chavez played in the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 post season with Oakland. In 2000 and 2001 he was eliminated by the Yankees. His only trip to the ALCS was with the 2006 A’s, where they were swept by the Detroit Tigers.
He also played in the Division Series last year with the Yankees. Once again, the Tigers knocked his team out.
After 15 years in the majors, this could be his last realistic shot at a World Series title.
Matt Diaz: Atlanta Braves
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The veteran utility outfielder began his career with a trio of games with the 2003 Tampa Bay Rays. He played with the Royals and the Pirates but spent the bulk of his career with two stints with the Atlanta Braves.
He just missed the 1991-2005 run in Atlanta, joining the team in 2006. But he did play in the 2010 Division Series with the Braves.
Diaz is back with the Braves but will miss the playoffs after thumb surgery. But the champagne of a championship celebration would still taste sweet for the valuable veteran.
Mike Gonzalez: Washington Nationals
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The veteran left hander broke in with the 2003 Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that finished nowhere near the postseason. After stints with the Braves and Orioles he was traded in midseason to the 2011 Texas Rangers.
He pitched in the Division Series, ALCS and World Series and got to within one pitch of the title.
Now he is with the best team of the National League and has a great chance to go all the way and earn his first ring in his 10 year career.
Tim Hudson: Atlanta Braves
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One of the three aces during the Moneyball era, Hudson’s contributions to Oakland’s success was oddly not mentioned in the movie. Oh well.
He pitched six of his 14 seasons in Oakland, pitching in the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 playoffs. He joined the Braves in 2005 and pitched for Atlanta in the 2005 and 2010 Division Series.
Despite six postseason appearances, he has never even advanced to the League Championship Series, let alone the World Series. This year he hopes to get to the Division Series. If they advance, Hudson might join his other two former A’s aces (Barry Zito and Mark Mulder) as a World Series champion.
Raul Ibanez: New York Yankees
Ibanez made his debut with the 1996 Seattle Mariners. This year is his 17th in the majors. He played in the 2000 Division Series and ALCS with Seattle and the 2009 Division Series, NLCS and World Series with the Phillies. Ironically both times he was eliminated by the Yankees.
He also played on the 2010 and 2011 Phillies playoff squads, but never won a ring.
Omar Infante: Detroit Tigers
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For 11 seasons, Omar Infante has been a valuable infielder who can play all over the diamond. He showed his value making the 2010 All Star Team with the Atlanta Braves.
From his debut in 2002 with the Tigers and through his stints with Atlanta and the Marlins, he has started as a shortstop, a third baseman, a second baseman and in all three outfield positions
He played in the 2006 ALCS and World Series with the Tigers and the 2010 Division Series with Atlanta. Now he is willing to play anywhere in the field to get his first World Series ring.
Andruw Jones: New York Yankees
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Jones blasted his way onto the postseason stage at age 19, homering twice in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series against the Yankees. His Braves team lost that series. He played on ten Atlanta division winners including the 1999 National League Champions.
Unfortunately for the 17 year veteran, none of those teams won the World Series. He also played on the 2011 Yankees team that lost the Division Series to the Tigers.
For Jones, a World Series title would feel long overdue.
Colby Lewis: Texas Rangers
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Few careers have had stranger twists and turns than Colby Lewis. He was a top prospect who made it to the Rangers in 2002. In 2003 he had a winning record with double digit wins, which sounds impressive. But he also had a 7.30 ERA that year.
Over the next 10 seasons, Lewis had surgeries, missed a season, played briefly for the Tigers and A’s and went to Japan before returning to the Rangers and becoming a fixture in their rotation.
He started eight postseason games for the 2010 and 2011 Rangers including recording the only Rangers win against San Francisco in the 2010 World Series.
Elbow issues cut his season short and will keep him off of the playoff roster. But he will be celebrating with his teammates should the Rangers win it all.
Roy Oswalt: Texas Rangers
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In 2001, Roy Oswalt made his debut with the Houston Astros, going 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA. Soon, he would become a regular Cy Young contender and win the 2005 NLCS MVP, pitching the Astros to their only pennant.
In 2010, he was dealt to Philadelphia, a team that seemed destined for its third straight pennant and a World Series crown. But they were stopped short in the NLCS by the Giants. Oswalt lost a game in relief during that series.
He lost a critical Game 5 of the 2011 Division Series that could have advanced the Phillies to the NLCS. Instead, the Cardinals won and would eventually win the title that has eluded Oswalt.
His first season with the Rangers has been an uneasy one. But Oswalt is still in uniform and playing for that first ring.
Brandon Phillips: Cincinnati Reds
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The All Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winning infectious face of the franchise, Brandon Phillips made his big league debut for the other Ohio team. He was dealt from the Cleveland Indians to the Reds in 2006 and blossomed.
He was the National League player of the month his first month in Cincinnati.
He would remain with the Reds for the next seven seasons, representing the Reds twice in the midseason classic.
Before this season, he only went to the post season once in his 11 year career. He played for the Reds in the 2010 Division Series.
Phillips and his teammates have more ambitious plans this year than being swept out of the Division Series.
David Ross: Atlanta Braves
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The valuable reserve catcher is getting a chance to start the Wild Card Game for the Atlanta Braves. He made his debut as a member of the 2002 Los Angeles Dodgers and played for L.A. in the 2004 Division Series.
Then he became a very well traveled backstop. Stops in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati and Boston preceded his arrival in Atlanta.
He played for the Red Sox in the 2008 playoffs and in the 2010 Division Series for the Braves.
After 11 seasons in the majors and many stops, he is still looking for this first World Series appearance.
Ramon Santiago – Detroit Tigers
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Like his teammate Omar Infante, the versatile Santiago can play all over the infield and has done so in his two tours of duty with the Tigers.
He made his debut with the dreadful 2002 Tigers and started on the 2003 team that lost 119 games.
After a short stint in Seattle he was back in Detroit for 2005. He played for the Tigers in the 2006 ALCS and World Series and in the 2011 Division Series and ALCS.
His career would come full circle if he could have played on both the worst Tigers team ever in 2003 and a World Champion Tiger team in 2012.
Marco Scutaro: San Francisco Giants
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For the past 11 seasons, Marco Scutaro has been a reliable if unspectacular infielder. He has been a solid shortstop, second baseman and sometimes third baseman.
He began as a member of the Mets but spent four years in Oakland where he had his only postseason experience. He played in the Division Series and ALCS for the 2006 A’s.
He was part of the Red Sox team that collapsed down the stretch in 2011.
Now he finds himself with the San Francisco Giants. A .362 hitter in his 61 games with the Giants, he could provide an offensive spark to the Giants World Series hopes.
Ben Sheets: Atlanta Braves
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The oft injured Sheets once looked like he was going to be one of the budding pitching stars in the game. He made his debut with the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers and made four All Star appearances for the Brew Crew.
But injuries sidelined him, missing all of 2009 and 2011 and a large chunk of 2010. He came back for nine appearances in Atlanta.
He probably will not play in the postseason, but he would gladly accept that World Series ring after 12 injury plagued seasons.
Rafael Soriano: New York Yankees
The Yankees reliever broke in as a spot starter with the 2002 Seattle Mariners. Over his 11 years in the majors he pitched effectively when healthy, but was sidelined for much of three different seasons.
After a few seasons in Atlanta, he had his best overall season with the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched in the Division Series for the 2010 Rays and 2011 Yankees.
Now Mariano Rivera’s replacement, he is fighting for the chance to not only play in a World Series, but clinch it.
Ichiro Suzuki: New York Yankees
The future Hall of Famer electrified baseball when he made his debut with the 2001 Seattle Mariners. That team won 116 games but lost to the Yankees in the ALCS.
And despite Ichiro’s best efforts and several outstanding squads in Seattle, his Mariners never made it back to the post season.
Ichiro can still hit and cause havoc. His midseason trade to the Yankees seemed to re-energize his bat and give him his best shot of his 12 years in the majors to win a World Series.
Jim Thome: Baltimore Orioles
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The future Hall of Famer is probably the best liked player in all of baseball. And there is no denying that he was one of the most terrifying figure at the plate of his generation.
Over the past 22 seasons, Thome has amassed 612 homers, scandal free. He has also played in nine different postseasons with five different franchises.
But all of that success never translated into a World Series ring. He got to within two outs of a title in 1997 with the Cleveland Indians who lost their Game 7 ninth inning lead to the Florida Marlins.
Thome’s place on the roster would make the Orioles sentimental favorites for an impartial fan.
Jose Valverde: Detroit Tigers
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Papa Grande made his debut with the 2003 Arizona Diamondbacks. He developed into a premier reliever, saving 47 games for the 2007 NL West Champion snakes.
In the Division Series that year he closed out the Cubs and sent Arizona to the NLCS. After a few seasons in Houston, he landed in Detroit in 2010.
In 2011 he closed out Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees to win the Division Series, becoming only one of seven pitchers to close out a postseason series with two different franchises.
Saving in Division Series' is cool. Papa Grande wants to close out the World Series.
Ryan Vogelsong: San Francisco Giants
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Vogelsong made his debut with the 2000 Giants in their first season at Pac Bell Park. He would become a big time contributor and All Star for the Giants. But that would have to wait 11 seasons.
Between 2000 and 2011 he was traded to the Pirates, played in Japan and was kicked around a few different minor league systems and winter baseball in Venezuela.
In 2011, he joined the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants. He replaced Barry Zito in the rotation, began the season 6-1 and made the All Star team.
He had a long journey back to the majors on three different continents. A World Series ring would cap an unusual baseball career.
Randy Wolf: Baltimore Orioles
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Randy Wolf was a fan favorite in Philadelphia shortly after his debut in 1999. He made the 2003 All Star team. He had stops in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Milwaukee before landing in Camden Yards.
In his 14 years in the majors, he played in the postseason twice. Wolf pitched in the Division Series and NLCS with the 2009 Dodgers and the 2011 Brewers.
He is hoping the 2012 Orioles will lead to his first World Series trip.