The Definitive 2021 MLB Jersey Power Rankings
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece breaking down the best "units" in baseball, and at a quick glance, multiple readers thought the article was, in fact, on the best "unis" in baseball, only to be disappointed to find out we were not talking about jerseys.
Give the people what they want.
Ahead we've ranked all 30 MLB jerseys, focusing solely on each team's primary home and road uniforms. Alternate jerseys and throwbacks were not included in this conversation, though rest assured we'll be visiting that conversation at another time.
Visual appeal and historical significance were major factors in determining where each jersey ranked, but at the end of the day, this was a largely subjective exercise. There are no right or wrong answers here, and I look forward to hearing your take on the best of the best.
Let's get to it!
When you finally accept that your team branding is culturally insensitive but still decide to trot it out for one more season, you've successfully clinched the No. 30 spot in these rankings.
29. Atlanta Braves
It's time to retire the tomahawk. My outside-the-box alternative: A torso-sized silhouette of Hank Aaron, not unlike the NBA logo and Jerry West.
28. Miami Marlins
The Marlins are the only team in baseball that does not have the mascot name or primary logo on their home jersey. Instead, both their home and road jerseys simply read "Miami" against the traditional white and grey color schemes. Their alternate jersey does say "Marlins" on it, but we'll get to that washed-out, black-on-black disaster in a future article.
27. Texas Rangers
When I first became a baseball fan in the 1990s, the Rangers were synonymous with the color red in my mind. Decades later, they have moved almost entirely away from red in favor of an extremely generic, navy-centric design. The opening of their new stadium was a golden opportunity to rebrand, but instead, their uniforms remain the epitome of "meh" here in 2021.
26. Colorado Rockies
Who doesn't love the old-school pinstripe jerseys that, in some cases, carry more than a century of history? The Yankees. The Cubs. The Phillies. The...Rockies? Going for a throwback look for the club's inception in 1993 was an interesting choice, and the fact that their jerseys have been essentially unchanged since is a fitting approach for a team that's been stuck in neutral for much of its existence.
25. Houston Astros
If those rainbow-colored jerseys from the 1970s could see what the Houston Astros look like now, they'd call them sellouts. Heck, even the 1990s jerseys with italic type and a star for the "O" were infinitely more fun than what the AL West leaders are wearing these days. They're fine—just extremely boring.
24. Washington Nationals
Already a generic design, there is a dramatic enough disconnect in style between the Nationals home and road jerseys that they rank lower than some of the other middle-of-the-road selections. Finding some cohesiveness might be as simple as deciding on one fixed location for the number on the front.
23. Chicago White Sox
The same disconnect between home and road designs we mentioned with the Washington Nationals also exists in the White Sox jerseys. Their all-black alternate is their best jersey option, and they have some great throwback choices, but on a list where we're simply ranking home and road fits, it's hard to slot them any higher.
22. Minnesota Twins
The Twins have had so many cool uniforms and logos through the years that it's difficult to be anything but disappointed with how generic things have become. Leaning into the "TC" logo that appears on their hat by making it a more prominent part of the design might be the answer to spicing things up.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks
Props to the D-backs for a willingness to reinvent their look multiple times since the franchise debuted with a purple and teal color scheme in 1998 and then quickly transitioned into a vested road jersey look. The latest redesign is a step forward from the weird shoulder stripe look they had a few years ago, but it still seems like they're searching for a true winner.
20. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds home jersey is a classic, but the road jersey drags them down in these rankings. I've never been a fan of the font on the road jersey, which seems to all blend together, perhaps due in part to the overly intricate black and white outlining of the red letters. If we were just doing home jerseys, they'd rank much higher.
19. San Francisco Giants
Another jersey scheme dragged down by a less-than-stellar road fit, the Giants look suffers from the fact that they have to cram "San Francisco" across their chests away from Oracle Park. It's a problem that would be easily solved by returning to the "SF" logo approach they used in the 1990s.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates
I'm all for bringing back vested jerseys, and the Pirates had one of the best around at the height of Roberto Clemente's run with the team. As it stands, their home and jerseys are both timeless designs. They just don't move the needle much relative to past looks.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers get some bonus points for using an original font and staying consistent between their home and road uniforms, but this fit is right where it belongs in the middle of the pack. Who's ready for those baby blue pullover jerseys to make a comeback?
16. Los Angeles Angels
The person who decided to put a halo around the "A" in "Angels" all those years ago was a genius. That alone is enough to vault these jerseys ahead of some of the other more basic designs. But what's with the logo patch on both sleeves? Unless it's an anniversary of some sort or you're honoring someone, there's no need for dual sleeve patches.
15. New York Mets
I'm a sucker for pinstripes, so the Mets home jersey alone is enough to vault them into the upper half of the rankings. They deserve some credit for the restraint shown in using just a touch of orange alongside their primary blue color, as any more would have overpowered the entire look. Simple but effective.
14. Seattle Mariners
Am I overrating these jerseys because Ken Griffey Jr. wore them and was my favorite player growing up? Maybe, but that's the beauty of a purely subjective ranking like this. There will always be little things that click with some people and don't register with others. At the very least, the inclusion of the compass alongside the wording separates this one from some of the other basic white/gray combos.
13. Kansas City Royals
Too many teams go with a combination of script and block letters for their home and away jerseys, so props to the Royals for utilizing the cursive approach across the board. I would sign multiple petitions encouraging them to go back to using their powder blue jersey as their primary road option, but as is, they have one of the cleaner looks in baseball.
12. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are one of baseball's historic franchises, with an old-school look befitting the long, storied history of the team. Since they moved away from pullover jerseys to the current button-down look in the late-1970s, Boston has had the same classic jersey combination.
11. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles and Royals have essentially the exact same jersey design, though Baltimore has a more unique color scheme. The Maryland state flag patch they wear on their sleeve is a nice detail, and their alternate jerseys do a great job of complementing the basic white/gray staples.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
The classics are classics for a reason.
Since they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season, the Dodgers have had the same basic look for their home and away jerseys. Names were added to the back for the 1978 season, but other than that, things have gone largely unchanged.
It's an ultra-clean look, similar to the Royals and Orioles, and the blue "LA" stitching on the sleeve to match the identical white logo on the hat is a nice detail to pull it all together.
9. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies do a good job paying tribute to a city rich with American history, from their Liberty Bell logo to the subtle touch of blue stars adorning their red and white pinstripe uniforms.
The only team with pinstripes that are not black, brown or blue on one of their primary jerseys, they effectively shake up the look without coming close to venturing into Indiana University basketball warm-up pants territory.
Their road jerseys might be a better change of pace if they said "Philadelphia" in a slightly smaller font, rather than the identical "Phillies" type on a plain gray background, but the home jersey is enough to land them a spot inside the top 10.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
So many teams use the same basic cursive font or boring block letters that something as simple as the swooping bottom of the "R" on the Tampa Bay Rays jersey is enough to really make it pop.
The team rebranded from the Devil Rays and a stingray mascot to simply the Rays in 2008, and the starburst that accompanies the letters fits the theme and helps tie the whole look together.
While I would generally stump for a team having its mascot name on the home jersey and city name on the road jersey, Tampa Bay's complete inability to support the team makes it fitting that the city would not be recognized on either uniform.
7. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres spent years trying to move away from the brown and yellow jerseys they wore during the 1970s and early 1980s.
They ditched the yellow for a look that closely mirrored the San Francisco Giants during the late 1980s, then toyed around with a pinstriped look, generic cursive font, a cream-colored road jersey, and even a sprinkle of camouflage.
However, things finally came full circle when they readopted the brown and yellow look in 2020, and it was a long-overdue return to their roots.
6. Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are one of the only teams in baseball that do not regularly wear an alternate uniform of any sort, sticking simply with the "D" logo white home jerseys and the cursive "Detroit" gray road jerseys to get them through a 162-game season.
Sometimes, more is simply more, and the Tigers deserve credit for recognizing that they have a slick look and sticking to it.
It's pretty cool that you can pull up a picture of Ty Cobb, and he's wearing essentially the same jersey that Miguel Cabrera is wearing above.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays spend so much time wearing their all blue and powder blue alternate jerseys, it almost seems like cheating to rank them this high.
On the other hand, how awesome is the font they use for the "Blue Jays" and the numbers on their home white uniforms? There's nothing else like it in baseball, and it feels like a perfect blend of retro and modern accompanied by the blue jay logo.
Expect to see those aforementioned powder blues in a similarly prominent place on our alternate jersey rankings.
4. Chicago Cubs
Don't expect to see the Chicago Cubs rocking a different home jersey any time soon.
The blue pinstripe and classic Cubs logo have been a staple at Wrigley Field for as long as most fans have been attending the Friendly Confines. Even when they jumped on the pullover jersey bandwagon in the 1980s, it was still the same look, just sans buttons.
A marquee franchise. A classic design. A top-five jersey.
3. Oakland Athletics
In a sea of blue and black and red and white, the Oakland Athletics are the yellow and green hero baseball needs.
And we're not even talking about those sweet Kelly greens, though expect that jersey to be a strong contender for the No. 1 spot when it comes time to rank alternate uniforms.
The design itself is nothing special, but the color scheme stands out enough to make it one of baseball's best jerseys.
2. New York Yankees
One of the most iconic jerseys in all of sports, the New York Yankees pinstripes are an extremely strong contender for the No. 1 spot.
The uniqueness of not having player names on the back further adds to the throwback feel, and it perfectly ties the present to a rich history filled with iconic stars that donned the same threads.
If you think this one belongs at the top, you won't hear any argument from me.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
Coming from a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, it just doesn't get any better than the birds on the bat.
It's the perfect blending of team name and logo, executed in a way that few other teams across all of sports have come close to accomplishing.
From Stan Musial and Bob Gibson to Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, all the greats through the years in St. Louis have worn some iteration of the birds on the bat. In terms of historical significance and visual appeal, it is simply unrivaled.