25 Forgotten MLB Sluggers from the Last 25 Years

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2020

25 Forgotten MLB Sluggers from the Last 25 Years

0 of 25

    BOB GALBRAITH/Associated Press

    Ask someone to name the best power hitters of the last 25 years.

    Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera are sure to be among the first names mentioned.

    Dig a little deeper and guys like Carlos Delgado, Vladimir Guerrero, Adam Dunn, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield, Todd Helton, Jason Giambi and Paul Konerko will come up.

    Our aim was to take it several steps further and uncover some of the forgotten sluggers of an era defined by mounting home run totals and growing biceps.

    Ahead we've chosen 25 such players from the last 25 years.

    The goal was to elicit a few, "Oh yeah, I remember that guy" responses while reminiscing about players who might not otherwise be considered among the best sluggers in recent memory.

    To be included, a player could no longer be active, had to have at least one 30-homer season and had to have homered at least once every 25 at-bats during his career. That last modifier served to eliminate outliers such as Jay Bell and Rich Aurilia.

    There are no right or wrong answers for who belonged on this list. Just sit back and enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Mike Jacobs

1 of 25

    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 32 in 2008

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 100 (1 every 19.5 AB)

    Mike Jacobs hit 32 home runs as the first baseman of a Florida Marlins team that featured Hanley Ramirez (33 HR), Dan Uggla (32 HR), Jorge Cantu (29 HR) and Cody Ross (22 HR), and finished third in the majors with 208 home runs.

    Beyond the gaudy home run total, Jacobs hit just .247 with a .299 on-base percentage, and his atrocious defense at first base (-24 DRS) helped drive his WAR down to minus-2.0 WAR.

    The Marlins traded him to the Kansas City Royals during the offseason for right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo, who went on to record 92 saves in three seasons in Florida.

    Jacobs hit 19 home runs with the Royals in 2009 but played just 20 more MLB games, wrapping up his career with an even 100 long balls.

Mike Morse

2 of 25

    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 31 in 2011

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 105 (1 every 24.5 AB)

    With Mike Morse's imposing 6'5", 245-pound frame, it's hard to believe he began his career as a shortstop with the Seattle Mariners.

    Entering his age-29 season with the Washington Nationals in 2011, he had yet to play 100 games in a single campaign, and he had just 21 career home runs in 685 plate appearances.

    When Adam LaRoche underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in June, it opened the door for Morse to take over as the starting first baseman, and he made the most of the opportunity.

    He hit .303/.360/.550 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 575 plate appearances to finish 19th in NL MVP voting and lead the team with 3.4 WAR.

    After subsequently bouncing around a bit, he returned to relevance with the San Francisco Giants in 2014, when he posted a 130 OPS+ with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 482 plate appearances for the eventual World Series champions.

Jack Cust

3 of 25

    Brad Mangin/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 33 in 2008

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 105 (1 every 20.1 AB)

    Jack Cust hit .334/.450/.651 with 32 home runs and 112 RBI as a 20-year-old at High-A in 1999, establishing himself as one of baseball's most promising young power threats.

    Lack of a defensive home limited him, but his power was legit, and he paired it with stellar on-base skills.

    An everyday player for a three-year stretch with the Oakland Athletics from 2007 to 2009, he hit .241 with a .378 on-base percentage during that span while averaging 28 home runs and 76 RBI per season.

    And while he led the AL in strikeouts all three years and posted a 31.8 percent punchout rate, he also averaged 103 walks per season while taking free passes at an 18.0 percent clip.

    It's fair to wonder if he would have been more valued in today's game and what kind of career numbers he would have if he had received regular playing time before his age-28 season.

Morgan Ensberg

4 of 25

    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 36 in 2005

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 110 (1 every 20.0 AB)

    Morgan Ensberg spent three seasons raking in the upper levels of the minors before he was given a chance to take the Houston Astros' starting third base job.

    The 27-year-old hit .291/.377/.530 for a 131 OPS+ with 25 home runs and 60 RBI in his first full season, and two years later he broke out as one of baseball's most productive sluggers.

    Hitting cleanup for an Astros team that reached the World Series, he batted .283/.388/.557 and ranked among the NL leaders in OPS+ (144, ninth), home runs (36, sixth) and WAR (6.3, 10th).

    That earned him his only All-Star appearance, a Silver Slugger Award and a fourth-place finish in NL MVP voting.

    His batting average fell nearly 50 points the following season, though he was still good for a 120 OPS+ and 23 home runs. A slow start to the 2007 season cost him his starting job. Houston then traded him to the San Diego Padres at the deadline, and he faded into obscurity.

    It was a brief peak, but few were better in 2005.

Brad Fullmer

5 of 25

    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 32 in 2000

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 114 (1 every 24.5 AB)

    Brad Fullmer was a hyped prospect in the Montreal Expos farm system, peaking at No. 14 on the Baseball America top-100 list before the 1998 season.

    He won the starting first base job out of spring training that year and went on to hit .273/.327/.446 with 44 doubles, 13 home runs and 73 RBI to finish fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    Two years and a trade to Toronto later, those doubles turned into home runs, and he hit .295/.340/.558 with 32 long balls and 104 RBI while batting behind Raul Mondesi and Carlos Delgado in a dangerous Blue Jays lineup.

    He followed that with solid seasons in 2001 (100 OPS+, 18 HR, 83 RBI) and 2002 (133 OPS+, 19 HR, 59 RBI), but that was as close as he would get to repeating his peak performance, and his MLB career was over before his age-30 season.

John Jaha

6 of 25

    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 35 in 1999

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 141 (1 every 19.7 AB)

    It looked like John Jaha had already peaked when he joined the Oakland Athletics.

    In 1996, he hit .300/.398/.543 with 34 home runs and 118 RBI in his age-30 season with the Milwaukee Brewers, but injuries limited him to 119 games in 1997 and 1998.

    The A's took a chance, signing him to a deal that paid him just $525,000, and he wound up being one of the best bargains in recent history.

    He won the DH job and hit .276/.414/.556 with 35 home runs, 111 RBI and 101 walks in a 4.6-WAR season, earning an All-Star nod and AL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

    The A's brought him back on a two-year, $6 million deal, but he played just 45 games and hit one home run over the life of that contract before retiring.

    If only he could have stayed healthy during his prime.

Ryan Ludwick

7 of 25

    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 37 in 2008

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 154 (1 every 23.1 AB)

    Ryan Ludwick spent time with the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers before he found a home with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    After signing a minor league deal with the Cardinals before the 2007 season, Ludwick hit .267/.339/.479 with 22 doubles and 14 home runs in 339 plate appearances while serving as the team's fourth outfielder, and the following campaign he took over as the starting right fielder.

    The increased role led to a breakout season, and he hit .299/.375/.591 while ranking among the NL leaders in OPS+ (151, fourth), home runs (37, fourth), RBI (113, sixth) and runs scored (104, 10th).

    That earned him an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award and proved to be his career peak.

    He was productive again in 2009 (105 OPS+, 22 HR, 97 RBI), and he had a strong season with the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 (130 OPS+, 26 HR, 80 RBI), but he never again approached his 2008 numbers.

Carlos Quentin

8 of 25

    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 36 in 2008

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 154 (1 every 18.1 AB)

    The Chicago White Sox acquired Carlos Quentin from the Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2008 season for slugging first baseman Chris Carter. More on the latter in a bit.

    A 2003 first-round pick, Quentin had hit an uninspired .230/.316/.425 for an 85 OPS+ in 454 plate appearances in his first two seasons in the majors. The White Sox were betting a change of scenery would help unlock his full potential.

    Did it ever.

    In his first season with the White Sox, the 25-year-old hit .288/.394/.571 for a 149 OPS+ with 36 home runs and 100 RBI, earning an All-Star appearance, Silver Slugger honors and fifth place in AL MVP voting.

    While he posted a 114 OPS+ and hit 71 home runs over the subsequent three seasons, injuries limited him to an average of 116 games per year. After that, he was traded to San Diego, where he played another three seasons and failed to eclipse 100 games each year.

    Like several others on this list, an inability to stay healthy kept him from reaching superstardom.

Chris Carter

9 of 25

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 41 in 2016

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 158 (1 every 15.6 AB)

    Chris Carter struck out 951 times in 2,853 career plate appearances, or once every three times at the plate, including a whopping 212 in 2013 and 206 in 2016.

    When he did make contact, he hit it a mile.

    The 6'4", 245-pound first baseman had a 37-homer season with the Houston Astros in 2014, and two years later he led the NL with 41 long balls in his first season with the Milwaukee Brewers.

    All told, he hit a home run once every 15.6 at-bats during his eight-year MLB career.

    That's better than all-time great sluggers Willie McCovey (15.7), Frank Thomas (15.7), Lou Gehrig (16.2), Albert Pujols (16.3), Hank Aaron (16.4), Willie Mays (16.5), Frank Robinson (17.1) and Reggie Jackson (17.5), among many others.

    His lack of defensive value and middling on-base skills made him a one-dimensional player, and he spent 2019 in the Mexican League, where he hit .293/.449/.709 with 49 home runs and 119 RBI in 120 games.

Henry Rodriguez

10 of 25

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 36 in 1996

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 160 (1 every 18.9 AB)

    Henry Rodriguez hit .246/.287/.388 for an 83 OPS+ in 254 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers to begin his career before a trade to the Montreal Expos jump-started his game.

    In his first full season with the Expos in 1996, he led the majors with 160 strikeouts but hit .276/.325/.562 with 42 doubles, 36 home runs and 103 RBI to earn a spot on the NL All-Star team.

    After a 26-homer, 83-RBI season the following year, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for right-hander Miguel Batista.

    Slotted in the No. 5 spot in the batting order behind Sammy Sosa during his 66-homer season and veteran first baseman Mark Grace, Rodriguez posted a 121 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 85 RBI for a Cubs team that made a surprise run to the NL wild card.

    He followed that with the best all-around performance of his career in 1999 when he batted .304/.381/.544 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI en route to a career-high 3.2 WAR.

    He had one more productive season after that before calling it a career.

Pedro Alvarez

11 of 25

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 36 (2013)

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 162 (1 every 18.4 AB)

    Pedro Alvarez was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, and he posted a .914 OPS with 27 home runs and 95 RBI in his pro debut in 2009.

    The following year he reached the majors, replacing Andy LaRoche in June as the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting third baseman. While it took time for him to settle in, he emerged as one of the NL's top power threats in 2012.

    That season he slugged 30 home runs, albeit with a subpar .244/.317/.467 line and 180 strikeouts. The following year, he led the NL in home runs (36) and strikeouts (186) in a 3.3-WAR season. He was selected to his only All-Star Game and won Silver Slugger honors that year as well.

    Even though he was just 26 years old during that peak season, his production dropped from there.

    He averaged just 22 home runs and 61 RBI the next three campaigns, and with so much of his value tied to his power, he was quickly out of a job. He spent most of 2017 and 2018 at Triple-A in the Baltimore Orioles organization before retiring.

Richard Hidalgo

12 of 25

    RICHARD CARSON/Associated Press

    HR Peak: 44 in 2000

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 171 (1 every 20.2 AB)

    A top prospect throughout his time in the Houston Astros system, Richard Hidalgo disappointed in his first extended MLB action in 1999, posting an 89 OPS+ with 15 home runs in 449 plate appearances.

    That made his 2000 season all the more surprising.

    In his age-25 campaign, he exploded for a .314/.391/.636 line that included 42 doubles, 44 home runs and 122 RBI, en route to a 6.3-WAR season.

    He went on to average 22 home runs and 74 RBI over the next four campaigns, including a 28-homer, 88-RBI performance in 2003 when he finished 18th in NL MVP voting.

    All told, he authored a solid nine-year MLB career, but his 2000 season was a clear outlier.

Russell Branyan

13 of 25

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 31 in 2009

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 194 (1 every 15.1 AB)

    Consider the following list of prolific sluggers and their respective at-bat per home run ratios:

    • Mark McGwire (10.61)
    • Babe Ruth (11.76)
    • Barry Bonds (12.92)
    • Jim Thome (13.76)
    • Giancarlo Stanton (13.81)
    • Ralph Kiner (14.11)
    • Harmon Killebrew (14.22)
    • Sammy Sosa (14.47)
    • Ted Williams (14.79)
    • Khris Davis/Manny Ramirez (14.85)
    • Adam Dunn (14.90)
    • Ryan Howard (14.94)
    • Juan Gonzalez/Dave Kingman (15.11)

    Those are the only hitters in MLB history with at least 3,000 career plate appearances who homered more frequently than Russell Branyan—who tied with Mickey Mantle at one every 15.12 at-bats.

    He saw more than 400 plate appearances just three times in his 14-year career, with his lone 30-homer season coming in 2009 when he hit 31 for the Seattle Mariners.

Phil Nevin

14 of 25

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 41 in 2001

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 208 (1 every 20.1 AB)

    It's not as if Phil Nevin came out of nowhere when he broke out with the San Diego Padres.

    He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 draft after winning Golden Spikes honors at Cal State Fullerton, and he was a top prospect with the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.

    However, it was not until he was traded to the Padres at age 28 before the 1999 season that his career took off.

    He had a 127 OPS+ with 24 home runs and 85 RBI in a super-utility role in his first year with the Padres, before posting two huge seasons in 2000 and 2001:

    • 2000: 605 PA, 136 OPS+, .303/.374/.543, 31 HR, 107 RBI, 4.1 WAR
    • 2001: 624 PA, 158 OPS+, .306/.388/.588, 41 HR, 126 RBI, 5.8 WAR

    Injuries derailed things from there, as he played in just 166 games the next two years, but he bounced back with a 26-homer, 105-RBI season in 2004.

    He may not have lived up to the expectations that come with being a No. 1 overall pick, but at his best, he was one of the most feared sluggers in the NL.

Travis Hafner

15 of 25

    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 42 in 2006

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 213 (1 every 19.1 AB)

    During a three-year stretch from 2004 to 2006, Travis Hafner was one of baseball's elite sluggers.

    He hit .308/.419/.611 for a 170 OPS+ while averaging 34 home runs and 111 RBI over that span, and he led the AL in OPS+ in 2004 (162) and 2006 (181).

    The burly designated hitter was one of just 14 players to hit at least 100 home runs during those three years, and his 42 home runs in 2006 are tied for the eighth-highest single-season mark in Cleveland Indians history.

    Injuries became an issue following a 24-homer, 100-RBI season in 2007, and he averaged just 86 games over his final five years in Cleveland.

    However, he remained a legitimate power threat right up to his final MLB campaign, with the New York Yankees in 2013, when he socked 12 home runs in 299 plate appearances at age 36.

Tony Batista

16 of 25

    AARON HARRIS/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 41 (2000)

    30-HR Seasons: 4

    Career HR: 221 (1 every 20.7)

    Perhaps best remembered for his exaggerated open stance, Tony Batista took his game to another level upon joining the Toronto Blue Jays in a midseason trade in 1999.

    He posted a 123 OPS+ with 26 home runs and 79 RBI in 98 games following the trade and exploded for a 41-homer, 114-RBI season the following year.

    The 2000 Blue Jays were stacked offensively, with Carlos Delgado (41 HR), Brad Fullmer (32 HR), Jose Cruz Jr. (31 HR), Raul Mondesi (24 HR), Shannon Stewart (21 HR) and Darrin Fletcher (20 HR) also posting gaudy power numbers for a team that led the AL with 244 home runs.

    He averaged 28 home runs and 96 RBI the next four seasons before making the surprise decision to sign a two-year, $15 million deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks before his age-31 season.

    He returned stateside in 2006 and hit seven more home runs in 313 plate appearances to close out his MLB career.

Cliff Floyd

17 of 25

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 34 in 2005

    30-HR Seasons: 2

    Career HR: 233 (1 every 22.8 AB)

    Cliff Floyd was No. 1 on the Baseball America top-100 prospect list heading into the 1994 season.

    He hit .250/.319/.381 with 12 home runs in 739 plate appearances from 1993 to 1996 with the Montreal Expos, who had taken him No. 14 overall in the 1991 draft, before he was traded to the Florida Marlins for pitching prospect Dustin Hermanson and veteran outfielder Joe Orsulak.

    That change of scenery led to a breakout performance as he hit .300/.369/.527 for a 133 OPS+ in his four full seasons with the Marlins, peaking with a 31-homer, 103-RBI campaign in 2001 when he made the NL All-Star team.

    The Marlins traded him back to the Expos at the 2002 deadline in an eight-player deal that sent a young Carl Pavano the other way, and he hit the free-agent market that offseason.

    The Mets signed him to a four-year, $26 million contract, and after dealing with injuries his first two seasons, he stayed upright in 2005 and slugged a career-high 34 home runs.

    In his 17-year MLB career, Floyd played in more than 120 games just five times, and with better health he might have been a bona fide superstar.

Matt Stairs

18 of 25

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 38 in 1999

    30-HR Seasons: 1

    Career HR: 265 (1 every 19.6 AB)

    The most memorable moment of Matt Stairs' career came when he launched a go-ahead, pinch-hit home run off Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS.

    He was 40 years old at the time.

    The late-blooming slugger did not become an everyday player in the majors until his age-29 season, yet he still tallied an impressive 265 home runs during an underrated 19-year career.

    He averaged 28 home runs and 90 RBI in his four full seasons with the Oakland Athletics, peaking in 1999 when he posted a 132 OPS+ with 38 home runs and 102 RBI.

    That was the only time he eclipsed 30 home runs, but he reached double digits 13 times, including a 21-homer season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007 at age 39.

    The 5'9" outfielder definitely packed a punch.

Brian Giles

19 of 25

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 39 in 1999

    30-HR Seasons: 4

    Career HR: 287 (1 every 22.7 AB)

    After a pair of solid seasons in a semi-regular role with the Cleveland Indians, Brian Giles was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1999 campaign for lefty reliever Ricardo Rincon.

    He emerged as one of the best players in baseball.

    During his four full seasons with the Pirates, Giles hit .309/.426/.604 for a 160 OPS+ while averaging 37 home runs and 109 RBI, hitting at least 35 home runs each year.

    His 23.8 WAR during that span trailed only Barry Bonds (35.1), Alex Rodriguez (32.3), Jason Giambi (29.9), Andruw Jones (26.7), Sammy Sosa (26.6), Todd Helton (25.9) and Chipper Jones (24.3) among all position players.

    On Aug. 26, 2003, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for left-hander Oliver Perez and outfielder Jason Bay, who went on to win NL Rookie of the Year the following season.

    The move to Petco Park sapped his power numbers, but he still hit .285/.386/.446 with 77 home runs and more walks (463) than strikeouts (317) in his five full seasons with the Padres.

Richie Sexson

20 of 25

    Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 45 in 2001 and 2003

    30-HR Seasons: 6

    Career HR: 306 (1 every 16.1 AB)

    A breakout season from Richie Sexson in 1999 gave an already stacked Cleveland Indians lineup that featured Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Roberto Alomar, David Justice and Kenny Lofton another dangerous bat.

    The 24-year-old posted a 102 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 116 RBI in his first full season, and he had 16 home runs in 91 games the following year when he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers at the deadline for pitchers Jason Bere, Bob Wickman and Steve Woodard.

    The 6'7" slugger immediately became a star in Milwaukee.

    In his three full seasons with the team, he posted a 132 OPS+ while averaging 40 home runs and 117 RBI, and he hit a career-high 45 home runs in 2001 and 2003. He was traded to the Diamondbacks before a contract year in 2004, but he played in just 23 games while battling a shoulder injury.

    Despite the injury, the Mariners signed him to a four-year, $50 million contract in free agency, and he averaged 36 home runs and 114 RBI over the first two years of that deal before his production started to decline.

Jeromy Burnitz

21 of 25

    Jeff Carlick/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 38 in 1998

    30-HR Seasons: 6

    Career HR: 315 (1 every 18.1 AB)

    After forgettable stints with the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians, Jeromy Burnitz found a home with the Milwaukee Brewers when he was swapped for third baseman Kevin Seitzer on Aug. 31, 1996.

    A breakout 1997 saw him post a 140 OPS+ with 27 home runs and 85 RBI, and that was only the beginning of his emergence as a top-tier power threat.

    He hit 30 or more home runs in six of the next seven seasons, averaging 32 home runs and 95 RBI during that span while hitting a respectable .251/.346/.491 for a 114 OPS+.

    The Chicago Cubs signed him to replace Sammy Sosa in right field for 2005, and he posted a 94 OPS+ with 24 home runs and 87 RBI at age 36 in what would be his final productive MLB season.

    While he was never viewed as a superstar, and much of his production went unnoticed while playing for also-ran Brewers teams, his uppercut left-handed swing produced some of the most consistent power numbers of the last 25 years.

Troy Glaus

22 of 25

    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 47 in 2000

    30-HR Seasons: 5

    Career HR: 320 (1 every 16.9 AB)

    Troy Glaus was selected No. 3 overall in the 1997 draft and made his MLB debut down the stretch the following year after hitting .307/.402/.641 with 35 home runs and 93 RBI in Double-A and Triple-A.

    The 22-year-old took over as the everyday third baseman the following year and finished second to Mo Vaughn in home runs (29) on the Angels.

    That was just the beginning.

    He hit 118 home runs over the next three seasons, including an AL-leading 47 in 2000 when he batted .284/.404/.604 on his way to a career-high 7.8 WAR.

    The injury bug reared its ugly head from there, and he played in just 149 games in 2003 and 2004 before he departed in free agency.

    A return to health brought gaudy power numbers once again in 2005 (126 OPS+, 37 HR, 97 RBI for ARI) and 2006 (122 OPS+, 38 HR, 104 RBI for TOR), but back and shoulder problems took a toll from there, and he retired after a 16-homer, 71-RBI season with the Atlanta Braves at age 33 in 2010.

Shawn Green

23 of 25

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 49 in 2001

    30-HR Seasons: 4

    Career HR: 328 (1 every 21.6 AB)

    While he debuted as a 20-year-old, Shawn Green did not deliver on his top-prospect potential until his age-25 season.

    During his five-year peak with the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1998 to 2002, Green hit .288/.369/.545 for a 137 OPS+ while averaging 38 home runs and 112 RBI.

    His 2001 (154 OPS+, 49 HR, 125 RBI) and 2002 (154 OPS+, 42 HR, 114 RBI) netted him a sixth- and fifth-place finish in NL MVP voting, respectively.

    On top of his impressive power numbers, Green was a picture of durability, averaging 158 games per season during the seven-year stretch from 1999 to 2005.

    Aside from his impressive career numbers, he also holds the record for the most total bases in a single game. On May 23, 2002, he went 6-for-6 with one double and four home runs against the Milwaukee Brewers, good for 19 total bases.

Tino Martinez

24 of 25

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 44 in 1997

    30-HR Seasons: 3

    Career HR: 339 (1 every 21.0 AB)

    Tino Martinez might be best known for his time with the New York Yankees, but he was already an established slugger when he joined the Bronx Bombers.

    He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Seattle Mariners, and in his final year with the team, 1995, he posted a 135 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 111 RBI to earn his first All-Star appearance.

    The M's traded him to the Yankees before the 1996 season along with Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock, and he immediately became one of the team's primary run producers.

    In his first six seasons with the Yankees, Martinez averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBI, batting .279/.348/.488 for a 114 OPS+.

    His offensive peak came during the 1997 season when he hit .296/.371/.577 for a career-high 143 OPS+ while slugging 44 home runs and racking up 141 RBI. That was good enough to make him runner-up to Ken Griffey Jr. in AL MVP voting.

    Playing on Yankees teams that included the likes of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Paul O'Neill and others, he did not always receive the attention he deserved despite wearing the pinstripes.

Greg Vaughn

25 of 25

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    HR Peak: 50 in 1998

    30-HR Seasons: 5

    Career HR: 355 (1 every 17.2 AB)

    The 1998 season is often credited with helping Major League Baseball fully recover from the 1994 strike, as the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation.

    Hidden in the immense shadow that those two cast, Greg Vaughn hit 50 home runs for a San Diego Padres team that reached the World Series.

    Vaughn was already well-established as a dangerous slugger, with a 30-homer season in 1993 and a 41-homer, 117-RBI performance in 1996 when he was traded from the Brewers to the Padres midseason.

    He followed his monster 1998 season with a 45-homer, 118-RBI showing in 1999 to finish fourth in NL MVP voting once again.

    His 355 career home runs are good for 89th on the all-time list, and that two-year stretch with the Padres ranks as one of the best in baseball history, yet he was often overlooked in an era loaded with gaudy power numbers.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.