25 Greatest Players on Terrible Teams

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer INovember 18, 2010

25 Greatest Players on Terrible Teams

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    Throughout sports history, there have been some great players that have gone before us and continue to go after us.

    They break records, they change the game and they change the way fans see the game. But they also end up as some of the greatest players never to win a championship. And why is that?

    Well, the answer is simple. They were stuck on bad teams during their career.

    You can go down the list from Ted Williams to Dwayne Wade to even one of the best hitters in baseball history, Babe Ruth.

    There are a lot of players that we can go back through sports history and talk about the bad teams they were on. Though it didn't hold some of them back, to others, they never got their chance at that one thing that ended up missing.

    For most of you, you'll know these names. Some of them a recent, others go back in time.

    Here are a list of 25 players that played for some bad teams throughout their career.

25. Felix Hernandez

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 05:  Starter Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on August 5, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Felix Hernandez is one of the best young pitchers in the game today. It's just too bad he plays on a horrible Seattle Mariners ball club.

24. Chris Paul

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    NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 05:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets in action during the game against the Miami Heat at the New Orleans Arena on November 5, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Another young player that's also making his own name in his sport is young point guard, Chris Paul. There's a reason he wants to be traded out of New Orleans.

    They're just not that good.

23. Julius Peppers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 01:  Defensive end Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers warms up before the NFL game against the Houston Texans at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Panthers defeated the Cardin
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Though the Panthers did have one Super Bowl appearance (2003) while Peppers was there, he eventually told the team in 2009 that he would request a trade if they franchise-tagged him.

    The Panthers would make it to the NFC title game in 2005; they would miss the playoffs over the next few years before his departure.

    They did not, and he left as a free agent.

    The Chicago Bears signed him, but he hasn't exactly lived up to his potential.

22. Roy Halladay

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14: American League All-Star Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
    Pool/Getty Images

    Talk about playing for bad teams. Roy Halladay was, and still is, one of the more prolific pitchers in baseball today but was stuck in Toronto for far too many years.

    He finally got the trade he wanted as he headed to Philadelphia but could not help the Phillies get past the Giants in the NLCS.

    If you ever get to watch this guy pitch, it's well worth sitting down and watching him work. He's meticulous and makes hitters look foolish at times.

    With his career not exactly on the down slope but not exactly still going up either, it's hard to tell if he'll be added to the list of great players never to win a championship.

21. Craig Biggio

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 9:  Craig Biggio #7 of the Houston Astros reacts to striking out during their game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium September 9, 2007 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Travis Lind
    Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

    A lifelong Houston Astro, Craig Biggio saw some bad years as a member of the team. You can also add him to the list of great players never to win a World Series championship.

20. Elton Brand

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18:  Elton Brand #42 of the Los Angeles Clippers looks on against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets at Staples Center on April 18, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by d
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Drafted by the Clippers out of Duke University, Elton Brand made his mark almost immediately. Unfortunately for him, he would have to play out his contract with several bad teams.

    Though, I can't remember the last time the Clippers were really that good. I do feel sorry for the franchise, however, due to the fact that they're always in the shadow of "big brother," the Los Angeles Lakers.

19. Barry Bonds

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    5 Jul 1992:  Left fielder Barry Bonds of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches his shot during a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hixon  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    I'm going to hold back the comments that I'm sure will come from other people, but I will say that this was probably the skinniest Barry Bonds anyone had seen him through his career.

    While he did play in a World Series as a member of the Giants, he had to endure some bad teams with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Everyone saw the potential he had when he first came into the league, and his potential continued through his time there.

18. Keyshawn Johnson

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    7 Nov 1999: Keyshawn Johnson #19 of the New York Jets carries the ball during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Cardinals 12-7.
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    What more can you say about Keyshawn Johnson. A great receiver but had to endure some pretty bad teams while with the New York Jets.

    He was part of the 1-15 team in 1996 and the 9-7 team in 1997.

17. Steve Smith

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24:  Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers against the San Francisco 49ers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    I don't know if there's a better wide receiver in the NFL that's played for some bad Carolina Panthers' teams, including a team that's sitting at 1-9 so far this season.

    A Super Bowl appearance in 2003 and a loss in the AFC title game in 2005 are all he has to show for a long career with the team. Though injuries have slowed him significantly over the last few seasons.

16. Cris Carter

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    30 Dec 2001:  Wide Receiver Cris Carter #80 of the Minnesota Vikings stands ready on the line against the Green Bay Packers during the NFL game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Vikings 24-13.  Mandatory Credit:  Jonathan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Arguably one of the best wide receivers in the NFL through his career, Cris Carter had a few playoff appearances including one in the NFC title game but was never able to break through and get to the big game.

    He also played on some bad teams in Minnesota as well; teams that wouldn't get close to the playoffs.

    It's not that he didn't play with talented quarterbacks, having played with guys like Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham, they just couldn't get there.

15. Steve Largent

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    18 Sep 1988:  Steve Largent #80 of the Seattle Seahawks in action during a game against the San Diego Chargers at the Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Seahawks 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Steve Largent was the face of the Seattle Seahawks through his 13 seasons with the team. When he retired, he held almost every NFL receiving record there was.

    However, his time with the Seahawks never ended with a championship though there was an appearance in the AFC title game in 1984, a game they would end up losing.

    That would be the team's last appearance in the playoffs until 2005.

14. Dwayne Wade

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 22:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrates after hitting the game-winning shot over Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Arena December 22, 2007 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Jazz 104-102. NOTE TO USER:
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Dwayne Wade has become a superstar in the NBA, but he had to pay his dues to get there and that includes playing on a bad team in South Beach.

    The 2007-2008 team finished with a horrible 15-67 record which was surprising, seeing as not only was Wade on that team, but so was Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Marion.

13. Antoine Walker

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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 17:  Antoine Walker #8 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 17, 2004 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Blazers won 100-84. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When Antoine Walker was in the NBA, he was arguably one of the most dangerous shooters with the ball in his hands.

    Not only that, but he could be physical inside or take you off the dribble.

    Sure it's hard to see him on this list, but he was one of the good players in the league while he was around.

    In 2004, he played with a horrible Atlanta Hawks team that finished the season 13-69.

12. Warren Moon

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    19 Sep 1993:  Quarterback Warren Moon of the Houston Oilers looks to pass the ball during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won the game, 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Houston Oilers won the bid for Warren Moon in 1984, bringing him over from the Canadian Football League.

    That year, the team finished 2-14. In 1985, it wasn't much better, finishing at 5-9 and going 9-6 in 1987.

    Though he was just getting started in the NFL, the Oilers couldn't have known what they picked up but would soon find out that he would be one of the best quarterbacks to play the game.

11. Junior Seau

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates during the game against the Houston Texans on September 15, 2002 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 24-3. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Ge
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    San Diego is still Junior Seau's town; he even has his own restaurant in Mission Valley called "Seau's." Which, by the way, if you're ever in San Diego, you need to stop in there. It's worth the trip, I promise you.

    Anyway, Seau had to endure some bad San Diego teams but finally got to be a part of a winning team in 1994 when the team got to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they would be blasted by the 49ers that year.

10. Dan Marino

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    Dan Marino will probably always be known as one of the best quarterbacks to never win a championship. He was one of the best passers and could pick apart any defense he wanted to. What people don't know about him was the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team Marino grew up rooting for, considered drafting him to replace Terry Bradshaw but eventually went with Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabriel Rivera.

    However, he ended up in Miami and shattered just about every passing record there was.

    By the time his career was over, his playoff record was a disappointing 8-10 and played on a 1999 team that would lose four of their last five games after winning eight of their first 11.

9. Tony Gwynn

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    3 Apr 2000:  Tony Gwynn #19 of the San Diego Padres getting off the field after being hit by the pitch during the game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the Padres 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /Allsport
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Tony Gwynn is another one of those guys on the list of great players never to win a championship. But it didn't make him any less of a player.

    Gwynn was one of the best hitters the game had ever seen. He wasn't a guy that was going to give you a lot of power, but he could do everything else including being able to aim where he was going to hit the ball. He was one of the ones that coined the phrase "5.5 hole" for the space between the short stop and third baseman.

    However, Gwynn would spend his entire career playing for several bad San Diego Padres' teams. But, he did get to play in a World Series in 1998, but the team was swept in four games by the New York Yankees.

8. Bo Jackson

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    OAKLAND, CA - 1990:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals stands ready at the plate during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 1990 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Arguably one of the most incredible athletes that most of us have ever seen. A guy that could not only play two sports, baseball and football, but succeed in both in a big way.

    He had power to hammer a ball 400 feet in baseball and power through a defensive line in baseball. He also had speed to cover an outfield in baseball and run away from defenders in football. He was an incredible athlete.

    However, he had to endure not only bad teams in Kansas City but also in Oakland. Some say his talents went to waste, but I for one am glad I just got to see him play.

7. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 15:  Ken Griffey Jr #24 of the Seattle Mariners swings at the pitch during the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 15, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. All Major League Baseball players are wearing #42 in ho
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    There was no one in baseball, and I mean no one, that could match the sweet swing of Ken Griffey Jr. It was absolutely effortless, and it looked like one fluid motion.

    I still, to this day, have never seen anyone like him.

    His younger days in Seattle were absolutely incredible, and he's played with guys who have turned into superstars—guys like Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez just to name a few.

    But, unfortunately, Griffey has never found that one team that could get him over the top, and his days in Seattle have been mostly with bad teams.

    Another great player without a championship.

6. Barry Sanders

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    14 Aug 1998:  Running back Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions in action during the pre-season game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions 7-3.
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    He was greatness personified. Barry Sanders made the running back position into what it is today.

    Sure there were great ones before him, but the new style of backs started with him. He was incredible in every way. Could cut on a dime, be able to come to a full stop, start back up again and still out run you.

    But, through his career, he never played with a Detroit team that was even good. He shocked everyone by retiring, but he knew that the Lions were never going to let him go, and he had nothing more to prove in the league.

    For once, a player walks away at the exact right time.

5. Don Mattingly

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 30:  Don Mattingly #23 of the New York Yankees looks on as he stand on the field during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 30, 1994 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty I
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Donny baseball or "Mr. Baseball" as he's come to be known. Don Mattlingly was, and still is, known as one of the greats of the game.

    He was a solid hitter and a good defensive player. You would think that putting a guy like this on a New York Yankees team would automatically make them contenders.

    Well, would you be surprised to learn that the Yankees make the playoffs just one time in his tenure with the team? He's still known as one of the best Yankees to have never played in a World Series.

4. Ralph Kiner

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    Ralph Kiner was part of the 1952 Pirates' team that finished with an abysmal record of 42-112. That was one season before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs as part of a 10-player deal.

    Kiner still holds the record for eight home runs in four consecutive multi-home run games.

3. Ted Williams

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    Ted Williams is still considered one of the purest hitters this game has ever seen. He's a guy that another great hitter went to for advice—Tony Gwynn.

    Williams was greatness throughout his career and always wondered why players today had gotten away from being good hitters and were trying too much for the power stroke.

    In 1941, Williams ended his season hitting an incredible .406. He's the only player to have accomplished that feat in baseball history. Only problem is, it was the same year that Joe Dimaggio broke the all-time consecutive hit streak (56).

    It was just unfortunate that he had to play for some bad teams during his career.

2. Ernie Banks

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    Ernie Banks broke into the big leagues in 1953 with the Chicago Cubs—the team he would spend his entire career with, becoming their first ever African American player.

    He was selected to the All-Star team 14 times over his career and is well known for the catch phrases "let's play two" and "it's a beautiful day for a ballgame."

    We all know that the Cubs have a curse that hasn't quite been lifted; the same curse that stayed over the team while Banks was with them.

1. Babe Ruth

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    Before Babe Ruth became "The Babe" or became his legendary self with the New York Yankees, he was a member of the Boston Braves.

    With all his accolades and the famous "calling his shot" home run, he played with one of the worst teams in baseball history.

    In 1935, the Boston Braves finished the season with a horrific 38-115 record. No wonder The Babe wanted to find greener pastures.

    His name and his career are still stuff of legends.