Best Active MLB Players Who Have Never Won a Title
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Every player’s goal is to help their team win a World Series. Unfortunately, even some of the best players never experience the glory of being crowned champions and boasting a diamond-studded ring.
Players like Adrian Beltre have been the victim of playing for mostly mediocre teams. For others, like Roy Halladay, it’s been a case of “right place, wrong time.”
Below are the best active players who have never won a title.
Note: only active players with at least 10 years of experience considered.
All statistics (through July 25) sourced from Baseball-Reference.com.
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Making his debut at age 19 in 1998, Adrian Beltre has been a dynamic combination of elite defense at third base (career average 15.0 UZR/150) and stellar hitting (a career park-adjusted 114 OPS+) for 16 seasons.
But despite playing for competitive teams like the 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers and 2011 and 2012 Texas Rangers, Beltre has never won a World Series.
The Rangers will once again be a World Series contender this season, and the 34-year-old would certainly like to secure a ring this time around.
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After winning the World Series in 2008—and losing in 2009—the Philadelphia Phillies wanted to bolster their rotation. The Phils did that by acquiring Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays on December 16, 2009.
Even though the 2010 and 2011 Phillies were great teams, winning 97 and 102 games, respectively, neither squad made it to the World Series. Halladay did, however, toss only the second no-hitter in postseason history, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series.
Needless to say, Halladay and his career park-adjusted 133 ERA+ are deserving of a ring. The two-time Cy Young Award winner might not be able to win one with the aging Phillies, however.
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Ichiro Suzuki’s first year in the major leagues was a significant one. The Japanese import captured the Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards and helped lead the Seattle Mariners to a league-best 116 wins.
Despite their record, however, the Mariners fell to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, 4-1. It would take another 11 years—and with the Yankees—for Ichiro to make his second playoff appearance. But like his first bout, the 2012 Yankees fell short too.
With over 4,000 hits (between Japan and the United States) to his name, the 39-year-old will certainly hold an important place in baseball history. But given his elderly age, time is running out for Ichiro to experience the midsummer classic.
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The Philadelphia Phillies first acquired Cliff Lee for their playoff run in 2009. After the team failed to win back-to-back World Series titles, the Phillies surprisingly dealt the ace to the Seattle Mariners in the offseason. Lee would also be a part of the 2010 Texas Rangers, who lost to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, 4-1.
A year later, however, the Phillies inked Lee (a free agent) to a five-year, $120 million deal. The southpaw has been worth it so far, owning a collective 2.87 ERA and a park-adjusted 135 ERA+—but the Phillies have fallen prey to an aging roster.
Lee will be with the Phillies through at least 2015 (he has a vesting option for 2016 too), but unless the organization can cultivate young, homegrown talent, Lee’s lack of rings will only continue.
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Carl Crawford is a shell of his former playing self. But before the outfielder signed a mega contract with the Boston Red Sox pre-2011, Crawford was a star on the small market Tampa Bay Rays.
From 2002 to 2010, Crawford owned a park-adjusted 107 OPS+ with 105 triples, 215 doubles, 104 home runs and 409 stolen bases.
The speedster almost saw his hard work pay off in 2008, when the Rays advanced to the World Series. The Rays, however, dropped four games to the Philadelphia Phillies, ending what could have been a great baseball story.
Now a member of the surging Los Angeles Dodgers, the 32-year-old Crawford might again get a crack at the title.
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From 2004 to 2008, Johan Santana was arguably the best pitcher in baseball. The southpaw owned a 2.82 ERA and a park-adjusted 157 ERA+ over that span. He also took home two Cy Young Awards too.
But neither the Minnesota Twins nor the New York Mets ever made it to the World Series in his 12-year career.
Now sitting on the disabled list with his second torn shoulder injury in the past few seasons, it’s doubtful Santana will ever be able to pitch again. Subsequently, the pitcher’s chances of winning a World Series are even less likely now.
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Since 2003, Jose Reyes (when healthy) has been one of the best shortstops in baseball. Reyes owns a .292 batting average with a park-adjusted 107 OPS+, 111 triples, 101 home runs and 422 stolen bases in his 11-year career.
The shortstop’s contributions on both sides of the ball were pivotal factors for the New York Mets’ good play in 2006, which landed them on the verge of besting the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The team fell to the Cardinals, 4-3 in the series.
After nine seasons with the Mets, Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins—who promptly traded the switch-hitter to the Toronto Blue Jays the following season.
Even though the Blue Jays were a pre-2013 favorite in the American League East, the team is currently in fifth place. If the Blue Jays play to their on-paper talent in 2014, the 30-year-old Reyes could finally win a ring.
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For a decade, Roy Oswalt was the featured anchor of the Houston Astros’ rotation. From 2001 to 2010, Oswalt owned a 3.24 ERA, park-adjusted 133 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP and 3.57 K/BB.
The Astros advanced to the World Series in 2005, only to be swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games.
As part of their rebuilding efforts, the Astros pawned the right-hander off to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Oswalt and the Phillies advanced to the playoffs, but didn’t pass the muster in either 2010 or 2011.
The 35-year-old is currently pitching for the Colorado Rockies to the tune of a 7.64 ERA over four starts. It’s unlikely the former ace will ever see another title opportunity.
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Aramis Ramirez has endured a lot of disappointment in his career. From 1998 to 2003, Ramirez played for the Pittsburgh Pirates—who never enjoyed a winning season during that span.
And even when the third baseman was dealt midseason to the Chicago Cubs in 2003, super-fan Steve Bartman famously prevented the team from advancing to the World Series by interfering with a potential out.
In 2014, the 35-year-old Ramirez will be entering the final year of his three-year, $36 million contract he signed with the lowly Milwaukee Brewers. Barring a waiver trade to a contending team, the career park-adjusted 116 OPS+ hitter will likely have to wait until his contract expires to sign with a legitimate World Series-geared organization.
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Torii Hunter is one of the most well-liked players in baseball. Unfortunately, being popular doesn’t translate to winning rings.
Widely considered an elite fielder (on account of winning nine Gold Glove Awards), Hunter also owns a career park-adjusted 111 OPS+ over 17 seasons.
Despite his elderly age (37), the outfielder has been productive for the Detroit Tigers this season, posting a 116 OPS+ and 14 home runs. After having lost to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series last season, the Tigers—with Hunter in tow—will look to seek revenge in 2013.