Justin and B.J. Upton and the Top Brother-Teammate Combos in MLB History
Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times
In joining the Braves, the Upton brothers become the second tag team of brothers to play for Atlanta in the team's history,
While neat in its own right, where do the Upton brothers rank among the top-10 best “bro” team combos in baseball history?
10. Buck and John Ewing
Any time the topic of cool “bro” team combos comes up, it is mandatory to throw an original into the mix.
Enter Buck and John Ewing, back in the day before men used gloves.
Buck played 18 years in the big leagues, beginning as a 20-year-old catcher with the Troy Trojans. According to his Hall of Fame credentials, he was essentially the first six-tool player in league history.
From the Reach Guide, 1919:
In [Buck’s] prime, he was the greatest player of the game from the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments: batting, catching, fielding, baserunning, throwing and baseball brains.
Buck was also the first player in major league history to hit 10 home runs in a season. In the dead-ball era, this was no small feat.
Per Baseball Almanac, Buck batted .303 with 1,625 hits and 71 home runs. His OBP/SLG was .351/.456.
Buck’s brother John was primarily a pitcher. He played just six years in the major leagues, joining Buck for his final two seasons in 1890 and 1891.
In 121 career starts, 113 of which were complete games, John was 53-63 with a 3.68 ERA.
His final stats were remarkable considering he posted a 6-30 record with the Louisville Colonels in 1889.
9. Dizzy and Daffy Dean
The Dean brothers were key components of the "Gashouse Gang," a wild, rowdy bunch of baseball men who played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the early-to-middle 1930s.
Per the Online Book of Baseball, Dizzy and Daffy are tops all-time in major league history in combined wins in a single season by a pair of siblings playing for the same team (49 wins in 1934).
Second on the list in this category is…the Dean brothers (47 wins in 1935).
In his 12-year career, Dizzy was 150-83 with 1,163 strikeouts and a 3.02 ERA. He is in the Hall of Fame.
Daffy was 50-34 with 387 strikeouts and 3.75 ERA in nine years of MLB service. He is not in the Hall of Fame.
Regardless, the Dean brothers are one of the best remembered brother tandems in major league history.
8. Jim and Gaylord Perry
The Perry brothers are third on the all-time list of MLB “bros” to pitch lights-out in a single season on the same team (behind the Deans).
Of the two brothers, Gaylord had the Hall of Fame career. In 22 seasons, the right-hander posted a 314-265 record with 3,534 strikeouts and 3.11 ERA. Jim went 215-174 with 1,576 strikeouts and a 3.45 ERA.
Much love as well to the Niekro brothers (Phil and Joe) and the Reuschel brothers (Rick and Paul).
7. Pedro and Ramon Martinez
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Call me a little nostalgic, but I love the Pedro and Ramon Martinez “bro” combo.
Of course, Pedro whipped Ramon in career success.
In 18 seasons, Pedro went 219-100 with 3,154 strikeouts and an astounding 2.93 ERA. A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Pedro also won the pitching Triple Crown in 1999, leading the league in wins, earned run average and strikeouts. Not bad for an undrafted free agent.
Also undrafted, Ramon had a solid pitching career. In 14 seasons, he posted a 135-88 record with 1,428 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA.
6. Justin and B.J. Upton
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
Justin joining his older brother B.J. in Atlanta may be a game-changer in the NL East.
It may also benefit outfielder Jason Heyward, who is still trying to have that breakout superstar season.
B.J. is 28 and coming off a career year in home runs (28). In his eight-year career, this stud defensive outfielder has batted .255 with 118 home runs and 447 RBI—this while playing on a Tampa Bay Rays team not exactly known for being an offensive juggernaut.
Justin has posted solid career numbers. In six seasons, the 25-year-old has batted .278 with 108 home runs and 363 RBI.
Still, many speculate Justin is on the verge of his first true monster season. With new scenery and his brother at his side, this may happen in 2013.
5. Hank and Tommie Aaron
Rogers Photo Archive/Getty images
Long before Justin Upton made his brother-joining splash in Atlanta, Hank and Tommie Aaron played together for the Braves.
One common thread among big league brothers is that usually one takes a back seat to the success of the other.
Hank and Tommie are case in point.
While Hank amassed a ton of career achievements, Tommie’s career was one of relative mediocrity. In seven seasons, this solid defensive player batted just .229 with 13 homers and 94 RBI in 944 at-bats.
Still, these two make for a memorable combo, especially when one considers they were the first set of brothers to appear in a league championship game together (per the Society for Baseball Research).
4. Sandy and Roberto Alomar
The Alomar brothers played together on several teams during the course of their careers.
As a teenager in the 1990s, watching these two guys play baseball was a thrill to say the least.
While Sandy’s career hitting stats were not nearly as strong as Roberto’s, Sandy was a tremendous defensive catcher who was great at managing a big league pitching staff.
Many fans wonder what this fan favorite would have been able to achieve offensively had he not battled so many injuries during the course of his 20-year career.
Roberto also battled injuries, though most of these injuries came in the latter part of his 17-year career.
Regardless, Roberto was able to amass impressive numbers. In 2,379 games, he batted .300 with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs and 1,134 RBI. He also had 504 doubles, 80 triples and an OBP/SLG of .371/.443.
Defensively, Roberto was as fun to watch as Sandy. In his career, Roberto posted a .984 fielding percentage second base. He committed just 181 errors in 10,984 chances.
Sandy and Roberto Alomar were one of the most memorable “bro” diamond duos in MLB history.
3. Cal and Billy Ripken
Equally memorable were Maryland natives Cal and Billy Ripken.
This pair of hometown heroes played together seven years with the Baltimore Orioles.
Obviously, Cal had better career numbers. In his 21-year career, Cal batted .276 with 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 603 doubles in 3,001 games.
Billy hit .247 with 674 hits, 20 homers and 229 RBI in 912 career games over 12 years.
However, as far as baseball cards go, Billy's 1989 Fleer card in which an obscenity was clearly visible on the knob of his bat helps even the scale a bit.
CNBC writer Darren Rovell wrote a very funny piece on this infamous piece of cardboard in 2008.
This card is arguably one of the most comical error cards ever produced.
2. Paul and LLoyd Waner
Paul and Lloyd Waner are perhaps the most gifted brother combo in baseball history.
Starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1927 and ending with the 1944 Brooklyn Dodgers, this outfield brother combination produced two terrific careers.
Nicknamed Big Poison (Paul) and Little Poison (Lloyd), these men were the first blood-combo on the same team to achieve 200 hits apiece in a season, per MLB.com list of feats. The Waners did this in 1928.
They did it again the following season.
While both men were incredible talents, Paul edged out Lloyd statistically.
In 20 years of service, Paul batted .333 with 3,152 hits, 113 home runs and 1,309 RBI. He also had 605 doubles, 191 triples and an OBP and SLG of .404/.473.
Lloyd played 18 years. More of a slap hitter than his brother, LLoyd batted .316 with 2,459 hits, 27 home runs and 598 RBI. He had 218 doubles, 118 triples and and OBP/SLG of .353/.393.
Paul was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1952. Lloyd was inducted in 1967.
1. The Alou Brothers
Any time a big league team fields three brothers on the field at the same time, a writer has to give mad props.
The 1963 San Francisco Giants featured Felipe, Jesus and Matty Alou. All three were outfielders.
However with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey roaming the same outfield, finding playing time together was difficult.
Of the three brothers, Felipe was the only one who saw regular playing time for the ’63 Giants. Matty played in 63 games, Jesus 16.
Regardless, as brothers, I could not think of a cooler experience than being together on the same team as two of the most iconic figures to play the game (Mays and McCovey).
Interestingly, Matty Alou would later play for another team that featured three brothers in the outfield.
In 1973, Matty played for the St. Louis Cardinals. That year, the Cardinals featured Hector, Tommy and Jose Cruz (according to Baseball Almanac).
Of the three brothers, Jose got the starting nod in the outfield, along with Lou Brock and Luis Melendez.
Honorable Mention: Zach and Mack Wheat, Christy and Henry Mathewson, Frank and Joe Torre, Jose and Ozzie Canseco, George and Ken Brett, Tony and Chris Gwynn, Barry and Steve Larkin, Steve and Billy Sax.
See complete list of MLB brother teammates at Baseball Almanac.