Which US State Produced the Most MLB Talent in 2021?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2022

Which US State Produced the Most MLB Talent in 2021?

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    Gary Friedman/Getty Images

    The answer to the question of which U.S. state produced the most MLB talent during the 2021 season will not come as a shock.

    However, there were plenty of surprises along the way counting up to No. 1, and with only four states not represented on MLB rosters this past season, there's something for almost everyone on the journey to the top.

    Ahead, we've tallied each state's MLB player total and combined WAR to paint a picture of where the most big league talent came from in 2021, and the entire state-by-state breakdown and full player list can be found here. The focus here is on each player's place of birth, even though many grew up and played their high school ball in a different state than where they were born.

    Where does your state fall in the rankings?

    Let's find out.

0-1 MLB Players

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    Brandon Nimmo was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
    Brandon Nimmo was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming.G Fiume/Getty Images

    States with 0 Players

    • Alaska
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont

    Maine (78), New Hampshire (54), Vermont (38) and Alaska (12) have all produced MLB talent in the past, but they were unrepresented during the 2021 season.

               

    States with 1 Player

    • Montana—RHP Codi Heuer, CWS/CHC (0.5 WAR)
    • Rhode Island—OF Mason Williams, NYM (0.0 WAR)
    • South Dakota—LHP Sean Doolittle, CIN/SEA (0.7 WAR)
    • West Virginia—C Tyler Payne, CHC (-0.1 WAR)
    • Wyoming—OF Brandon Nimmo, NYM (3.6 WAR)

    There is already a strong case to be made that Brandon Nimmo is the best offensive player ever born in the state of Wyoming. Outfielder Mike Devereaux, second baseman Mike Lansing and catcher John Buck are among the retired players who are also in the mix for that title.

2-5 MLB Players

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    Paul Goldschmidt was born in Wilmington, Delaware.
    Paul Goldschmidt was born in Wilmington, Delaware.Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    States with 2-5 Players

    • Washington D.C.—2 players, 0.7 WAR
    • Idaho—3 players, -0.3 WAR
    • Utah—3 players, 0.7 WAR
    • New Mexico—3 players, 7.4 WAR
    • North Dakota—4 players, -0.7 WAR
    • Kansas—4 players, 9.6 WAR
    • Delaware—5 players, 8.7 WAR

    Despite the small quantity of players, there are some surprisingly large WAR totals among this group of states.

    Left-hander John Means (4.1 WAR), catcher Jacob Stallings (3.0 WAR) and reliever Blake Treinen (2.4 WAR) are the headliners from the state of Kansas, which had the second-highest total WAR among states with fewer than 10 players.

    Delaware is propped up by Paul Goldschmidt (6.1 WAR) and Joey Wendle (3.8 WAR), with the other three players from that state actually bringing the cumulative WAR total down.

    All three players out of New Mexico were impact performers, led by standout rookie Trevor Rogers (3.2 WAR), who joined sluggers Alex Bregman (2.1 WAR) and Mitch Garver (2.1) in representing the state.

6-10 MLB Players

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    Walker Buehler and Will Smith were both born in Kentucky.
    Walker Buehler and Will Smith were both born in Kentucky.Harry How/Getty Images

    States with 6-10 Players

    • Iowa—6 players, -1.1 WAR
    • Nebraska—6 players, 3.0 WAR
    • Hawai'i—7 players, 5.5 WAR
    • Minnesota—8 players, -1.7 WAR
    • Arkansas—8 players, 1.4 WAR
    • Kentucky—9 players, 13.4 WAR
    • Connecticut—10 players, 12.1 WAR

    Shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa (3.7 WAR) and second baseman Kolten Wong (3.3 WAR) led a group of seven players from the state of Hawai'i who appeared in the majors in 2021. Kiner-Falefa was a fourth-round pick in 2013 out of Honolulu prep school Mid-Pacific Institute, while Wong was a first-round pick two years earlier after a stellar run at the University of Hawai'i.

    Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Walker Buehler (6.7 WAR) and Will Smith (3.5 WAR) were the WAR leaders out of the state of Kentucky, along with Atlanta Braves slugger Adam Duvall (3.1 WAR). Both Smith and Duvall attended the University of Louisville.

    Having 10 players from cold-weather Connecticut is a bit of a surprise, with outfielders AJ Pollock (3.1 WAR) and George Springer (2.4 WAR) leading the way. Springer (No. 11 overall) and Boston Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes (No. 19 overall) were teammates at the University of Connecticut and first-round picks in the 2011 draft.

    Only Caleb Thielbar (1.2 WAR) had a positive WAR total among the eight players born in Minnesota, seven of whom were pitchers. A healthy Nick Anderson (0.0 WAR) should help in 2022.

11-15 MLB Players

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    Bryce Harper was born in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    Bryce Harper was born in Las Vegas, Nevada.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    States with 11-15 Players

    • Oregon11 players, 4.6 WAR
    • Wisconsin12 players, 3.5 WAR
    • Mississippi12 players, 11.2 WAR
    • Colorado12 players, 17.6 WAR
    • Massachusetts13 players, 5.4 WAR
    • Nevada13 players, 18.6 WAR
    • Maryland14 players, 15.7 WAR
    • Indiana15 players, 17.6 WAR

    Sluggers Bryce Harper (5.9 WAR), Joey Gallo (4.7 WAR) and Kris Bryant (3.3 WAR) all grew up in the Las Vegas area, and that trio helped Nevada rank No. 7 in total WAR among all states. Reliever Paul Sewald (1.6 WAR), starter Tyler Anderson (1.6 WAR) and outfielder Tommy Pham (1.4 WAR) also contributed.

    Meanwhile, Indiana and Colorado are tied for ninth in most total WAR produced.

    Pitchers Lance Lynn (5.4 WAR), Kyle Gibson (3.7 WAR) and Sean Manaea (3.4 WAR) paced the group from Indiana, while the Colorado contingent was also a pitcher-heavy group led by Kevin Gausman (5.4 WAR), Kyle Freeland (2.4 WAR), Tyler Rogers (2.4 WAR), Marco Gonzales (2.2 WAR) and Mark Melancon (2.1 WAR).

    Rising star Bryan Reynolds (6.0 WAR) was born in Maryland, but he attended high school in Tennessee before attending Vanderbilt University.

    Of the 13 players born in Massachusetts, six posted negative WAR in 2021. That dragged down the overall WAR total from a group led by Mike Yastrzemski (2.5 WAR), Alex Cobb (1.7 WAR) and Rich Hill (1.4 WAR).

16-20 MLB Players

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    Tim Anderson was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
    Tim Anderson was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    States with 16-20 Players

    • Michigan16 players, 7.6 WAR
    • Louisiana16 players, 12.6 WAR
    • New Jersey18 players, 12.6 WAR
    • Virginia20 players, 5.4 WAR
    • Missouri20 players, 8.7 WAR
    • South Carolina20 players, 12.2 WAR
    • Oklahoma20 players, 14.7 WAR
    • Alabama20 players, 16.9 WAR

    San Diego Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth (4.8 WAR) accounted for the bulk of Michigan's production, and he also attended the University of Michigan, where he was a two-way standout.

    With Mike Trout (1.8 WAR) injured for much of the year, the state of New Jersey was headlined by pitchers Charlie Morton (4.0 WAR), Anthony DeSclafani (3.9 WAR) and Zac Gallen (2.3 WAR), while Virginia was without Justin Verlander and instead led by second baseman Brandon Lowe (4.7 WAR).

    It's a bit surprising that Oklahoma doesn't rank higher considering the milder weather and what a hotbed for MLB talent neighboring Texas has been over the years. Catcher J.T. Realmuto (3.5 WAR) led the way, while under-the-radar pitchers Adrian Houser (2.1 WAR), Casey Sadler (2.1 WAR) and Tejay Antone (2.0 WAR) also made their mark.

    Shortstop Tim Anderson (4.8 WAR) leads a pitching-heavy group from Alabama that includes Casey Mize (3.2 WAR), Craig Kimbrel (2.5 WAR), Kendall Graveman (2.1 WAR) and Corey Kluber (1.4 WAR).

21-30 MLB Players

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    Robbie Ray was born in Brentwood, Tennessee.
    Robbie Ray was born in Brentwood, Tennessee.Cole Burston/Getty Images

    Arizona24 players, -3.8 WAR

    Top player: OF Alex Verdugo, BOS (2.2 WAR)

    Arizona was one of just six states to produce a negative WAR total, and it had more big leaguers in 2021 than the other five states combined. A whopping 17 Arizona-born players produced negative WAR, including Cody Bellinger (-1.5 WAR), while Boston Red Sox teammates Alex Verdugo and Josh Taylor (1.3 WAR) were the best of the bunch.

         

    Washington26 players, 8.2 WAR

    Top player: OF Michael Brantley, HOU (2.5 WAR)

    Aside from veteran Michael Brantley, the WAR leaders out of the state of Washington were Tampa Bay Rays pitchers Andrew Kittredge (2.3 WAR) and Drew Rasmussen (1.6 WAR). Other big names from the state include 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell (1.3 WAR) and Michael Conforto (0.8 WAR), who spent his 2021 season with the New York Mets.

          

    Tennessee26 players, 22.6 WAR

    Top player: LHP Robbie Ray, TOR (6.6 WAR)

    2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, breakout star Austin Riley (6.1 WAR) and longtime superstar Mookie Betts (4.2 WAR) represent the cream of the crop from Tennessee. Tony Kemp, Sonny Gray, Mike Minor and David Price are among the Tennessee-born players who decided to stay in-state and attend Vanderbilt University.

           

    Pennsylvania27 players, 7.5 WAR

    Top player: OF Chas McCormick, HOU (2.3 WAR)

    Outfielders Chas McCormick and Ian Happ (1.6 WAR) were joined by relievers David Bednar (2.1 WAR) and Lou Trivino (1.2 WAR) as the most productive players out of a long list of Pennsylvania-born talent. Young slugger Alex Kirilloff (0.6 WAR) will be one to watch in the years to come.

8. North Carolina

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    Cedric Mullins was born in Greensboro, North Carolina.
    Cedric Mullins was born in Greensboro, North Carolina.Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Players: 32
    Total WAR: 17.6

    Top 5 Players

    1. OF Cedric Mullins, BAL—5.7 WAR
    2. SS Corey Seager, LAD3.7 WAR
    3. 3B Kyle Seager, SEA2.0 WAR
    4. LHP Madison Bumgarner, ARI1.8 WAR
    5. LHP Alex Wood, SF1.3 WAR

    Breakout star Cedric Mullins accounted for nearly a third of the WAR total produced by an impressive 32 players born in the state of North Carolina. He actually went to high school in Georgia, but returned to his home state to attend Campbell University.

    The Seager brothers attended Northwest Cabarrus High School in Kannapolis, North Carolina, though they are seven years apart in age and were never teammates.

    Beyond the impressive top five, there are several up-and-coming young talents poised to make their mark in the big leagues in the coming years, including right-handers Jackson Kowar (KC) and Bryse Wilson (PIT), catcher Cal Raleigh (SEA) and outfielder Jo Adell (LAA).

7. Ohio

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    Chris Bassitt was born in Toledo, Ohio.
    Chris Bassitt was born in Toledo, Ohio.Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    Players: 33
    WAR Total: 17.3

    Top 5 Players

    1. RHP Chris Bassitt, OAK4.0 WAR
    2. OF Kyle Schwarber, WAS/BOS3.2 WAR
    3. LHP Andrew Chafin, CHC/OAK2.9 WAR
    4. OF Andrew Benintendi, KC2.4 WAR
    5. LHP Eric Lauer, MIL2.3 WAR

    The Ohio contingent is a top-heavy group, with the five players listed above and veteran infielder Josh Harrison (2.1 WAR) accounting for 97.7 percent of the state's combined WAR total.

    Right-hander Chris Bassitt has been something of a late-bloomer, breaking out with the Oakland Athletics in his 30s after he was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 draft. He was undrafted out of high school and attended the University of Akron.

    Lefty reliever Andrew Chafin also stayed in-state, playing his college ball at Kent State University.

    Kyle Schwarber climbed into 16th all-time in 2021 among Ohio-born players with 153 career home runs, and he could move into the top 10 in the not-too-distant future. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt sits atop that list with 548 long balls.

6. Illinois

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    Nicky Lopez was born in Naperville, Illinois.
    Nicky Lopez was born in Naperville, Illinois.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Players: 37
    WAR Total: 14.0

    Top 5 Players

    1. SS Nicky Lopez, KC4.3 WAR
    2. C Carson Kelly, ARI2.1 WAR
    3. LHP Tyler Alexander, DET2.0 WAR
    4. RHP Collin McHugh, TB1.9 WAR
    5. C Danny Jansen, TOR1.3 WAR

    Nicky Lopez is the only player from the Illinois top five that actually attended high school in the state. He played his prep ball at Naperville Central High School before moving on to Creighton University and eventually going in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.

    Meanwhile, Texas Rangers second baseman Nick Solak played for Naperville North High School at the same time that Lopez was at Naperville Central. He was also a 2016 draft pick, going in the second round after attending the University of Louisville.

    Top pitching prospect Quinn Priester was born in Glendale Heights, Illinois, and he attended Cary Grove High School before going No. 18 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2019 draft. It's only a matter of time before he joins this list, and he has the potential to develop into the future ace of the staff.

5. New York

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    Harrison Bader was born in Bronxville, New York.
    Harrison Bader was born in Bronxville, New York.Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Players: 43
    WAR Total: 22.2

    Top 5 Players

    1. OF Harrison Bader, STL3.9 WAR
    2. 3B Jeimer Candelario, DET3.8 WAR
    3. RHP Marcus Stroman, NYM3.7 WAR
    4t. RHP Ian Anderson, ATL2.7 WAR
    4t. OF Jesse Winker, CIN2.7 WAR
    4t. C Sean Murphy, OAK2.7 WAR

    There were 11 players born in New York who produced at least 1-WAR during the 2021 season, seven of which were pitchers.

    Outfielders Harrison Bader and Jesse Winker enjoyed breakout seasons in 2021, while Ian Anderson is a rising star in his own right in the Atlanta Braves rotation. The 23-year-old attended Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, New York, and he was the No. 3 overall pick in 2016.

    Catcher Sean Murphy went to Centerville High School in Ohio and stayed in-state to attend Wright State University, where he developed into a third-round pick, but he was born in Peekskill, New York. The 27-year-old had a 17-homer, 59-RBI season for the Oakland Athletics in 2021 and has the potential to be a two-way star in the coming years.

4. Georgia

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    Zack Wheeler was born in Smyrna, Georgia.
    Zack Wheeler was born in Smyrna, Georgia.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Players: 59
    WAR Total: 45.6

    Top 5 Players

    1. RHP Zack Wheeler, PHI7.7 WAR
    2. 1B Matt Olson, OAK5.8 WAR
    3. OF Byron Buxton, MIN4.5 WAR
    4. 2B Adam Frazier, PIT/SD4.0 WAR
    5. RHP Adam Wainwright, STL3.7 WAR

    The state of Georgia has always been a baseball hot spot, and there is plenty of notable talent beyond the top five listed above.

    Recently retired and future Hall of Famer Buster Posey (3.5 WAR) and his replacement Joey Bart were both born in the state, and Bart attended Georgia Tech. Young outfielders Kyle Lewis (SEA), Brandon Marsh (LAA) and Josh Lowe (TB) represent the next wave of Georgia-born talent.

    Shortstop Dansby Swanson and outfielder Byron Buxton were two of the top prep players in the state of Georgia in 2012. Buxton went No. 2 overall in that year's draft, while Swanson attended Vanderbilt University and was selected No. 1 overall three years later.

    Veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright has put himself squarely in the conversation alongside Kevin Brown, Tim Hudson and Kenny Rogers as the best Georgia-born pitcher in MLB history.

3. Texas

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    Max Muncy was born in Midland, Texas.
    Max Muncy was born in Midland, Texas.Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Players: 98
    WAR Total: 36.7

    Top 5 Players

    1. 1B Max Muncy, LAD4.9 WAR
    2. RHP Nathan Eovaldi, BOS4.6 WAR
    3. SS Trevor Story, COL4.2 WAR
    4. OF Trent Grisham, SD3.3 WAR
    5. 1B Josh Bell, WAS3.1 WAR

    Three of baseball's best first basemen—Max Muncy, Josh Bell and Brandon Belt (2.7 WAR)—were born in Texas, and both Muncy (Baylor) and Belt (Texas) also went on to attend college in the state.

    Future Hall of Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw (2.3 WAR) was selected No. 7 overall in the 2006 draft out of Highland Park High School, the same school that produced 13-year big leaguer and current Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young.

    Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is the closest thing to the prototypical flame-throwing Texan in the game today, and he racked up a career-high 195 strikeouts in 182.2 innings in 2021 to finish fourth in AL Cy Young balloting.

    Shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder Trent Grisham are two of the better power/speed players in the game, and both were first-round picks out of Texas high schools.

2. Florida

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    Trea Turner was born in Boynton Beach, Florida.
    Trea Turner was born in Boynton Beach, Florida.Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Players: 113
    WAR Total: 81.1

    Top 5 Players

    1. 2B/SS Trea Turner, WAS/LAD6.5 WAR
    2. SS Bo Bichette, TOR5.9 WAR
    3. OF Kyle Tucker, HOU5.7 WAR
    4t. LHP Carlos Rodon, CWS5.0 WAR
    4t. 3B Manny Machado, SD5.0 WAR
    4t. RHP Jacob deGrom, NYM5.0 WAR

    No surprise to see Florida in the No. 2 spot on this list.

    A trio of University of Florida alums—Pete Alonso (4.2 WAR), Jonathan India (3.9 WAR) and Mike Zunino (3.8 WAR)—fell just outside the state's top-five list, and right-hander Brady Singer (0.1 WAR) is also a former Gators standout on the rise.

    Veteran sluggers Nick Castellanos (3.2 WAR), Josh Donaldson (3.2 WAR), J.D. Martinez (3.0 WAR) and Anthony Rizzo (1.7 WAR) were all born in Florida, along with generational pitchers Zack Greinke (1.2 WAR) and Chris Sale (1.0 WAR).

    Rising ace Lance McCullers Jr. (3.4 WAR) and up-and-coming right-handers Logan Gilbert (SEA), Alek Manoah (TOR), Nate Pearson (TOR) are among the other notable names on the pitching side of things.

1. California

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    Marcus Semien was born in San Francisco, California.
    Marcus Semien was born in San Francisco, California.Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Players: 238
    WAR Total: 153.1

    Top 5 Players

    1. SS Marcus Semien, TOR7.3 WAR
    2. SS Brandon Crawford, SF6.1 WAR
    3. OF Aaron Judge, NYY6.0 WAR
    4. RHP Corbin Burnes, MIL5.7 WAR
    5. RHP Gerrit Cole, NYY5.7 WAR

    California produced 21.8 percent of the 1,091 players born in the United States who suited up for at least one big league game in 2021, including 34 players who tallied at least 2.0 WAR.

    Aside from Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole, some of the notable pitchers born in the state include high school teammates Max Fried (5.4 WAR), Lucas Giolito (4.3 WAR) and Jack Flaherty (0.9 WAR), along with Tyler Mahle (4.8 WAR), Logan Webb (3.9 WAR), Chris Flexen (3.5 WAR), Joe Musgrove (3.5 WAR), Shane Bieber (2.6 WAR) and Tyler Glasnow (2.3 WAR).

    On the offensive side of things, Freddie Freeman (4.7 WAR) is the best in a long list of players who didn't quite crack the top five, along with Nolan Arenado (4.1 WAR), Ryan McMahon (4.0 WAR), Justin Turner (3.7 WAR), Matt Chapman (3.5 WAR), Giancarlo Stanton (3.1 WAR), Mitch Haniger (3.1 WAR) and rookie standout Dylan Carlson (3.2 WAR).

    That's just a sampling of the 238 players born in the state.

         

    All stats and background info courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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